How Online Patient Portals Create Value For Your PracticePosted: May 18, 2022 - By Health Dev
As the healthcare industry continues its digital transformation, technology supports the trend toward more patient-centered care. This style of practicing medicine — where patients are encouraged to take a more active role in their health and doctors are encouraged to learn more about the views and lifestyles of their patients — has proven to substantially improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Patient-centered healthcare fosters the engagement of patients with their providers and the healthcare system as a whole. This engagement leads to a better flow of communication. More open communication reduces the chances of misunderstandings and gives the patients the freedom to ask all of the questions they want answers to.
Patients who understand the reasons and possible outcomes of their treatment plans are much more likely to follow their doctor’s advice and continue to return for any and all follow-up visits. The aspect of the digital transformation of medicine that seems to have the biggest impact on increasing patient engagement is online patient portals.
What Is an Online Patient Portal?
A patient portal is a personal website offered by a healthcare system to patients. These sites allow patients to keep track of, view, and verify all of their healthcare information in one place.
Things you may find in a patient portal include:
- Scheduled appointment
- Appointment setting
- Secure messaging with physicians
- And more
Patient portals require that patients set up an account with your healthcare system, but there is no cost for them to do so. After you have completed their registration process, they will be asked to provide a password so that all of their information remains secure.
Features of Patient Portals That Support Patient Engagement
Patient engagement can be defined as having the desire to be involved with one’s healthcare and the providers that supply it. The more access patients have to their information and the more readily they can have their questions answered, the higher their engagement will be.
The more patients that are encouraged to become partners in their healthcare, the more likely the chances of a positive outcome are. These positive outcomes increase the patient’s trust in the system, resulting in even more predictable and positive outcomes.
Patient portals make it easy for you to be engaged with your patients and their care. Here are just a few of the tasks that can be handled through your patient portal.
Ability to Schedule Appointments Online
Traditionally, if patients needed to schedule an appointment, they had to call the office and wait until someone had the time to help. Once a patient got in contact with someone at the front desk, there were further delays while the patient and the receptionist checked calendars to find a time and date that worked for both them and you, the healthcare provider. Once everyone agreed, the patient had to remember to write the correct time and date down or risk missing the appointment.
Patient portals make scheduling your appointment online quick and easy. Patients simply:
- Open the schedule section for the doctor they need to see
- Find an open appointment that works for you and the patient
- Click on the appropriate button
- You have successfully scheduled an appointment with no downtime or frustrating back and forth — on either end
To make your life even easier, most patient portals offer you the option of setting up appointment reminders. There is no need to make reminder calls or suffer late or missed appointments because a patient lost an appointment time card or forgot the scheduled date and time.
Use of Secure Messaging
Perhaps the biggest asset of patient portals is that they provide you and your health care teams with a direct, secure line of communication with patients. No matter when a patient thinks of a question, they can send an email to the appropriate provider and trust that they will receive it. Your providers can respond at any time — either from the office or anywhere else they have access to this online tool.
This free flow of information goes a long way to improve the patient experience and encourages them to stay involved with health and wellness.
How Does Patient Access to These Features Create Value?
Patient portals do more than help patients stay engaged — they also create tangible and notable value for your practice. Access to patient portals and the features they contain has been shown to improve the patient experience.
Positive patient experiences not only help to attract new patients, but they also help you to keep the ones that you have. While new patients are helpful, the backbone of long-term success for any medical practice is loyalty from the patients you have.
Patient portals also create value by creating healthier patients. Patients that have access to their own medical information feel more in control of the process. This positive feeling often leads to them taking a more proactive approach to their health care. This leads to early treatments and better outcomes.
How Your Practice Can Transition to Patient-Centered Care With Patient Portals
Patient-centered care is a trend that is likely to stay — and for a good reason. It is beneficial for every member of the healthcare system, including patients, insurers, doctors, and the facilities they serve. Patient portals are an essential part of moving your practice toward a more patient-centered approach to medicine.