Patient portals are an important new development in the medical world. Giving patients 24/7 access to their medical information through a secure website has the potential to change the way we think about our relationships with our patients, save everybody time and money, and – most importantly – improve patient outcomes.
Benefits for patients
Giving patients access to their own medical history and information is a meaningful way to engage them in their own healthcare, and empowers them to become active, responsible members of their own treatment team. As the way we practice medicine becomes more fragmented, it has never been more important to establish continuity among the many healthcare providers a patient may see in the course of a year. Well-informed patients have better outcomes, and the right patient portal can make the flow of information much easier.
As a matter of convenience, a patient portal can be a big value-added proposition for your patient base. Knowing that they can have instant access to medical records is something that patients will appreciate. Lab results, medications, immunization records, allergy information and more are available to them whenever they might need them, without a wait. Some patient portals go a step further, allowing people to request prescription refills, schedule non-urgent appointments, and exchange secure email with their healthcare teams.
Benefits for doctors
First and foremost, anything you do to improve patient-doctor communication has immediate benefits for you and your practice. When patients feel included in their healthcare, they’re happier with their doctors. Higher patient satisfaction leads directly to more patient loyalty, more word-of-mouth recommendation, and a healthy, thriving practice.
There are also other practical considerations for doctors. The government is offering incentives of up to $44,000 to doctors who switch to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, but to benefit from this scheme, your practice must meet a set of “Meaningful Use” objectives. It’s worth taking a close look at the complete list of objectives, but a patient portal is one of the best ways you can begin to check off the requirements.
Setting up a patient portal that really works to positively impact your patients may require a significant investment of time, research, and resources, but it’s something that more practices should explore. Health information technology is just one more way that you can improve the efficiency of your practice, enhance the patient experience, and make a significant difference in your patients’ health.