Sep 7, 2010

What are Patient Portals?

What Are Patient Portals?
Patient Portals are healthcare-related online applications that allow patients to interact and communicate with their healthcare providers, such as physicians and hospitals. Typically, portal services are available on the Internet at all hours of the day.
According to the 2009 Industry Survey from HealthLeaders Media, less than 5 percent of hospitals have interactive patient portals. By 2014 however, more than three quarters of hospitals expect to have patient portals. With increasing popularity of available patient portals, a shift to online patient portals as a service for small and medium sized hospitals seems inevitable.

A study published in JMIR concludes: 
"Portal group patients demonstrated increased satisfaction with communication and overall care. Patients in the portal group particularly valued the portal’s convenience, reduced communication barriers, and direct physician responses. More online messages from patients contained informational and psychosocial content compared to telephone calls, which may enhance the patient-physician relationship."
Common Features offered by portals:

  • Scheduling requests - allows patients to request an appointment date. The appointment is then made by office and confirmation sent to patient via secure messaging.
  • Medication refills - allows patient to request refill on medications
  • E-Visits - is a non-urgent electronic visit and in some instance can be a reimbursable.
  • Electronic History taking - patient fills out electronic information regarding visit. This can save time and helps with documentation of HPI and presenting complaints. Thereby improving documentation and reimbursement.
  • Pre-registration/Registration - Gets the patients medical history and demographics a very efficient way of registering new patients.
  • PHR (Personal Health Record) - a homepage maintained by patient via the Internet allows patient to take charge of their Health.
  • Lab results - secure method of transmitting lab results to patients without having to call or send letters.
  • Secure messaging - allows for electronic consultations quick questions and/or method to blast vital information to patients especially announcements.
  • Patient education materials - same as above but some offer medical information as well
  • Bill payments - some portals offer payments via the Internet some offer account information without the ability to pay on line via credit card.

      Who offers Portals:

      • Medfusion - offers a full array of services (patient registration, secure messaging, personal health records, e-prescribing, virtual visits)
      • Instant Medical History from PrimeTime Medical Software is not a patient portal but can be integrated into one. $50/month.
      • PrimePatient from Greenway Medical is a Medfusion product that integrates with Greenway's PrimeSuite Electronic Health Record
      • Meditab - health care portal and auto check in.
      • Medisolve - seems limited to patient registration and medical interview.
      • Medseek - pre-registration, scheduling, secure messaging, eConsults. Seems to be targeted for larger group practices.
      • RelayHealth - part of McKesson. WebVisits, secure messaging, PHR, eScripts. $125/month per physician


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