How do Online Patient Portals Benefit Patients?
Portals aren’t just the realm of science fiction. They’re a very useful tool in real life, allowing patients and medical professionals to share, store, and discuss health care-related information.
What are some ways that portals involve patients in their care?
Schedule appointments online
Appointment scheduling is one of the biggest benefits that patient portals provide.
Letting people schedule appointments themselves could be convenient. Instead of being surprised and interrupted by phone calls at unexpected times, people have the ability to go online and explore appointment options at their own convenience.
When scheduling, patients could refer to their own calendars and the scheduling calendars on their portals, making it easier to determine the times that work and don’t work. If their schedules change, they could enter portals again to check their calendars and make changes.
They might want to call the offices and speak to people in person if they want to make a last-minute change or cancellation, though, especially if their medical offices charge fees for late changes or their appointment is for that same day.
Review results of labs and tests
Looking up the results of tests and labs is another benefit of patient portals.
It can be challenging to remember the numbers and other results of medical tests, especially if people are unfamiliar with the tests and terminologies themselves.
Placing information from electronic health records (EHRs) onto medical portals gives patients exact numbers and results. These listings allow patients to access their personal data anytime and any place, which could be useful if they live far from their medical team, have questions, are planning to visit other medical professionals, or need to use this information for other purposes.
In addition, patients might be embarrassed to ask for results, especially if they’re modest and their tests and lab work relate to private body parts or functions. Going online could circumvent this awkwardness while still answering questions.
Check and pay bills
Online health information on portals could also help patients deal with insurance companies and pay their bills.
Insurance providers want thorough, updated information about medical conditions before they’ll pay for their treatment. Patients can log onto portals to view all this information and share it with insurance companies or programs if they’ve requested it.
Or, since their portals are connected to their doctors’ electronic health records and practice management systems, patients might not need to send this information themselves. Instead, they could see the information that their doctors offices’ have already shared with their medical insurers.
By engaging with portals, patients might be able to pay their bills online. They could also find records of how much they’ve paid their doctors, how much they still have to pay, and other information. This could help them with budgets, taxes, and other financial matters.
View prescription information
Using portals also helps patients view and apply information about their prescriptions.
It could be hard to keep track of several medications, especially for patients who might struggle with dementia or other challenges. Portals list a patient’s medications, their dosages, and instructions for using them.
Having this information could be useful if patients are having health difficulties and think their medications could be one of the reasons why. It could also be handy if they’re visiting other doctors who might be prescribing them other drugs that could cause interactions.
Finally, portals might allow patients to refill their prescriptions and provide information about where they want these prescriptions filled. Studies have found that patients who use portals to fill their medications are more likely to use their prescriptions. Just like paying bills, portals could make filling and using prescriptions more convenient.
Interact with staff members
Working in the medical field involves asking and answering questions.
But what happens if patients want these answers outside your office hours or can’t travel to an office to ask a quick question or two? Portals could provide the solution.
Portals allow patients to send questions and information to medical professionals online. They allow health care workers to answer these questions, ask their own, and provide other information.
Medical practices that offer useful information and timely responses in these portals show they care about their patients and what they have to say. In fact, some patients have admitted that the availability of portals is what prompted them to choose certain medical practices over others.
Benefits of patient portals for your office
Online portals benefit more than just patients. They could also help the healthcare practices that offer them.
Gather and store accurate information
Medical files are always changing, with new information being added frequently.
If practices need to update their patient’s records and inform them about these changes, they can make a note in the portal that sends them an automatic email or text message.
Similarly, patients can send their doctors brief email or text messages through their portals. The messages will be stored with other communication and their medical information, making it easy to store, access, and cross-check information for future purposes.
Create more efficient, faster appointments
Adding and accessing information in portals could also improve in-person office visits.
Medical professionals might ask patients to provide information before their appointments. This might include their blood pressure readings or descriptions of their latest symptoms over a period of days.
Having records of a patient’s recent health status could alert medical professionals if something is wrong or patients should see them or receive other medical assistance sooner.
Professionals could analyze this data and look for trends and patterns, which could help them diagnose and treat conditions quicker. Data could help them determine what to do next.
Reduce time spent on the phone and asking questions in person
Digital portals and their data could also help other medical professionals in other ways.
Since the information contained in them could provide quick, accurate answers to a wide variety of questions, patients might not need to interact with medical staff members as much. Sure, people might ask questions online, but questions via email are likely to be shorter, more focused, and easier to research than ones asked during an examination when lots of other things are occurring.
Do you want to know more about portals and how they could assist your patients and your practice? Contact Eye Care Leaders. We’ll answer your questions about portals and other digital matters and help you find online answers to your questions.
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