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December 17, 2019
June 27, 2022

Many healthcare facilities use online patient portals to communicate directly with their patients. These portals have improved the provider and patient relationship by offering more transparency, timeliness and a patient-centered experience. While some facilities have adopted an online patient portal, others remain hesitant.

Concerns about using an online patient portal

Patient information security

One of the main concerns about using an online patient portal is the fear of a security breach. In order to prevent this from occurring, it's important to take the necessary steps to make sure your patients' information is secure. Working with trusted vendors and a strong IT department can prevent information from falling into the wrong hands.

Speaking the language of your patient

Another concern both providers and patients have is interpreting medical information. As a provider, when entering notes into the EHR, make sure that you explain the medical results in a way the common person can understand. Using too much medical jargon may confuse your patients and cause stress and anxiety while they try to interpret their information.

Older adults using technology

Sometimes older adults do not feel comfortable with technology, however this should not deter your facility from adopting an online patient portal. One option is to remind older adults that they can grant access to a tech-savvy loved one who can login on their behalf and access medical records. Another option is to provide visual training materials about how to access the portal and the perks of being able to access this information online. Finally, if all else fails, make sure your staff is available to answer questions from patients via the telephone.

Pros of using an online patient portal:

Providing real-time information

Patients love using an online patient portal because they can access their health information more quickly than before. Instead of waiting for a phone call, they may receive an email notification as soon as their results are posted to the portal. Not only do they appreciate getting their medical information in a timely manner, this also allows them to take time reading and comprehending their results.

Increasing efficiency and quality of care for patients

Using an online patient portal makes medical information readily available to other providers. This results in more appropriate patient care when each provider a patient sees has medical history of the patient right in front of them.

Allowing staff to be more productive

Previously, office staff would spend time reviewing patient records and contacting them to provide results or schedule an appointment. Online patient portals vastly decreases the time staff spends on the phone by allowing patients to have control over their experience. Whether they want to check results at any time during the day, request or cancel appointments, or message their provider directly, all of this can be accomplished in the portal.

Overall perception of online patient portals:

While the concerns about patient portals are valid, they can easily be remedied or prevented. Meanwhile,  the benefits of using an online patient portal are hard to ignore. In fact, a study found on the website for the National Library of Medicine indicates that healthcare providers view online patient portals as favorable despite some of the concerns. If your facility has not adopted a patient portal, it may be time to consider getting one.

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