Source: Thinkstock

What are patient portals?

Patient portals are sites linked to your electronic health record system where patients can access their lab results, health data, hospital summaries and exam notes.

Some portals are more sophisticated, allowing for appointment scheduling,prescription refill requests, bill paying and secure messaging with healthcare providers. Capabilities depend on the portal vendor, so this is something that should be scrutinized prior to purchase and implementation.

Mandates ( meaningful use requirements) necessitate that at least 5% of patients have entry to a portal with some access to their EHR data. According to a recent HIMSS survey released during its 2016 conference, 58 percent of healthcare professionals connect with their patients via mobile optimized patient portals.

The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) reports that 64%  of hospitals gave patients the ability to view, download, and transmit their health data in 2014;  51% could message securely with patients.

Source: ONC


  • Patients engage with their physicians
  • Patients take more active role in improving their health
  • Strengthens patient/doctor bonds
  • Fosters patient loyalty
  • Mistakes or updates on records are more quickly amended

According to David Clain, research manager at athenaResearch:

“If you are a patient at primary care practice or you have some cardiac issue and you have an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, I think it’s really helpful to be able to continue the conversation outside of the office. And once you’ve done that a couple of times, you feel that connection to your provider, you have a sense that they are committed to your health and to ensure that you have good outcomes.”

Clain also says “The portal becomes sort of the hub for managing especially patients with chronic diseases outside the office, bringing them back into the practice when you need them.  It’s not just how you get a patient to come in and fill a spot, but how you make sure that you see them often enough that you can really have a good handle on their health status and you can intervene early and often if you have to.”

Do you use a patient portal?  Are you satisfied with the one you use?  Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comment box below.