The Evolution and future of the Patient Portal

April 16th, 2021 - By Andrew Fearnley

The better utilization of technology represents every industry’s future — and healthcare is no exception in this regard. There are plenty of ways in which technology has improved the inner workings of the healthcare industry. One of the most noticeable improvements has been the increasingly usable patient portals from the patients’ perspective.

patient portal dashboard
Patient Portal Dashboard

Patient portals represent the forefront of workflow organization and patient communication technology. In essence, these are personal health records in specific medical institutions. During the past decade, patient portals have become the most promising tool for increasing patient engagement. However, healthcare leaders and patients alike have yet to fully adopt them, which is why we’ll examine the current state and the future of patient portals right here!

How patient portals create value for patients

In the healthcare industry, the most important goal when changing any process or technology is to provide better value for your patients. And patient portal software can do that. While the reasons for adopting this type of technology are many, we can differentiate between three main benefits of patient portals:

● Workflow optimization

● Better clinical outcomes

● Better relationships between patients and physicians

Using a patient portal to automate and digitize some tasks (such as scheduling and billing) can free up some of your staff’s activities for activities that provide better patient care more directly. Furthermore, many patient portals offer features such as reminders for prescription refills, improving medication adherence levels — ultimately leading to a more favorable clinical outcome. Of course, all of this means that the patients and their physicians can develop a better long-term relationship.

Patient portal earlier 

We should note that Internet portals and applications have been the norm in many industries for a while now. And that’s true even for industries that handle personal data that are comparably important to medical information — such as the banking sector. However, since the early 2000s, the healthcare industry wasn’t as quick to catch up.

Thankfully, this has been changing since adopting regulations that provided stimulus packages for technological improvements in the healthcare industry — like the ARRA law of 2009. Since then, healthcare providers and software developers have constantly improved and reinvented patient portals. 

Top patient frustrations with portals

As many physicians can attest to, it hasn’t all been rosy when it comes to the adoption of patient portals. There are plenty of instances where patients have noted frustration with their healthcare portals, ranging from inconsistency and inconvenience to a lack of proper personalization. 

At the onset of the patient portal revolutions, many clinicians used subpar portals for their practices, ultimately creating more work and frustration instead of creating tools that mean less work for patients. 

Difficulties in navigation and the lack of some essential quality-of-life improvements were often cited. When it came to patients who needed these portals to help them manage their chronic illnesses, many of the usage had to be manual on their side; instead of the portals having automated functions that make things easier. 

Slowly but surely, however, the design of the average patient portal started to improve. The previous decade was a constant improvement in the patient portal technology, as both developers and physicians became more proficient at realizing precisely what the patients needed and expected from such an online platform. 

The most-requested patient portal features

popular features

One of the biggest reasons that the patient portal concept’s Evolution has been a steady success is that patients have become more vocal about what improvements they expect. Plenty of surveys have been conducted in recent years, and they’ve yielded exciting results.

For instance, a vast majority of patients have expressed concerns about the ability to see their medical history on a secure platform and the security of their online communication with their doctors through patient portals. 

We can also see that patients value certain features above others and use them more often — for example, more than 80% of patients use these platforms. Accessing their test results; indeed a more convenient experience than actually having to go to their physician for the results. 

Most patients that access patient portals also expect them to showcase their health records, with ease of use being crucial here. A significant portion of younger patients would readily switch to a different physician if they felt they could get a better online platform. 

Naturally, this speaks volumes about the rising importance of features such as online appointments. And the unprecedented rise of Internet communication during the COVID-19 pandemic has further raised the bar for patient portals’ essential nature. 

Furthermore, it’s not just about the patients using their patient portals. In this day and age, they also expect their doctors to use text messages, emails, and even social media to communicate follow-up or preventive care. 

The rising popularity of patient portals

In conclusion, the key takeaway from the information we’ve outlined above is that patient portals are not only better and more important than ever; they’re here to stay. In 2018, surveys revealed that a stunning 90% of US-based healthcare providers had some patient portal capabilities. 

On the other hand, the remaining 10% claimed to be in the process of creating such options for their patients. This means that the patient portal has gone from a novelty to a definite industry standard — and a higher rate of patient adoption due to usability improvements is the next logical step!

Interesting Articles to Read:

Promote your Practice with Patient Portal and Google

Improve Patient Service with PrognoCIS Patient Portal


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