The medical field is rapidly switching to eHealth today and Patient Portals are an extension of it. Patient portals are online healthcare applications that allow patients to interact and communicate with their healthcare providers, such as physicians and hospitals. Portal services exist 24 hours over the internet.
How Patient Portals help
Patient portals permit patients to converse directly with their healthcare providers by asking questions, leaving remarks, or sending e-mail messages. These portal applications are either merged with the existing web site of the hospital or to the electronic medical record (EMR) system. These services help the hospital to interact with patients through internet. There are companies which provide a readymade patient portal system and offer services. For example, Epic Systems, WEBeDoctor, and Cerner, offer patient portals as one module of a complete Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, these are vendors of patient portals.
Patient portals benefit both patients and providers by increasing efficiency and productivity. Patient portal applications allow patients to register and complete forms online, which can organize visits to hospitals.
The advantages that hospitals will have from patient portals are as follows:
- Hospital can provide all the health-related information of individual patients safely and securely through the internet.
- They can provide up to date personal health information, anywhere, anytime with secure access to messages, blood tests, imaging reports and doctor’s documents.
- The hospitals can meet the demands of the patient day and night, without the trouble of travel for elderly and handicapped.
- Even rural or distant patients can connect with the hospital; this way hospitals can provide services to many more patients than possible physically.
- Many portal applications also enable patients to request prescription refills online, access medical records, pay bills, review lab results, and schedule medical appointments. This can save hospitals and their pharmacies immense time, money and valuable manpower.
- Hospitals can communicate with the patients directly, clear their doubts and even promote themselves.
- Patient portals will help in increasing consumer engagement.
- Hospitals can educate patients, by providing disease related data and latest research on therapy and treatment, latest disease updates, etc.
- Hospitals can connect instantly with their healthcare team members, this communication will strengthen the patient-provider relationship.
- It gives patients an opportunity to acquire information that aids them in forming better health decisions.
- Patient portals help healthcare organizations of all types engage their patient population and improve profits.
- Patient portals reduce administration manually, delivering health summary documents, view appointments, field routine inquiries and provide communications between the patient and provider.
- The need to print reference information for patients can be reduced who instead, can access it online.
- They allow one to handle non-urgent questions via secure messaging and use proxies to align the flow within each environment so that vital time can be given to critical cases.
- Eliminating the need to mail health documents – patients can access these online
- Reducing the number of missed appointments due to online visibility
- Adding new patients and/or providers in a few easy clicks
That’s a comprehensive list to prove how patient portals can enhance the value of health institutes in the form of consumer engagement, marketing, and profitability. In future, as the electronic medium progresses further, all hospitals will work by patient portal systems without which it will be difficult to meet patient demands and compete in the field.
Keeping in mind the busy lives of patients today, difficult travelling, work commitments and time constraints, if hospitals and medical institutions build up their patient portals, their patient turnover will escalate, translating into increasing their revenue multiple times.
Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD
- Litton, J. Scott “Encouraging Patients to Use Online Communication “. Physicians Practice. February 3, 2012.
“Three Great Integrated Patient Portals”. TechnologyAdvice. May 19, 2014.