09 Aug, 2017

Patient Portals: Valuable, When Used


The digital healthcare landscape has provided patients with new innovative tools that make retrieving personal data easy and accessible.

Providers have been focused on driving these digital tools into the marketplace, in order to introduce a new customer-centric experience to the healthcare industry.

This experience gives patients the opportunity to be in charge of their healthcare journey.

“Today, thanks to advances brought about by healthcare reform, including an increased emphasis on customer satisfaction and value-driven care, many people are becoming more active participants in their own healthcare.”  Hsph reports. 

In order to successfully engage in customer-centric care, providers must understand who their patients are and how to reach them using tools such as patient portals.

“By understanding the growing popularity of patient portals, their benefits, and their uses, providers can better leverage them to boost patient engagement.” Patientengagement reports.

Patient portals are secure online websites connected through electronic health records that provide patients with 24-hour access to personal healthcare information, using a username and password.

This tool has created a large impact on the healthcare industry since 2014, providing agile customer engagement.

“Unlike one-dimensional first generation portals, advanced solutions offer longer-term benefits for healthcare organizations. Far more complex than simple web technology, they are complete platforms that standardize and aggregate data in addition to providing valuable connectivity” Patientengagementhit reports.

The benefits of patient portals have been steep.

  • Accessible – Online resources make information accessible anywhere with internet present.
  • Improved communication – Communication between physicians and patients is seen through portals.
  • Increased patient engagement – Providers can use portals to be constantly up to date with the patient’s health data provided.

Although providers have made efforts integrating these portals into the industry, according to a study done by U.S. Government Accountability Office, only one-third of patients are actually using them.

The study concluded that most patients are frustrated with the amount of time these digital tools took, and unhappy with some inaccurate data that was displayed.

“Patients often receive access to a different portal for each provider they visit, and must manage separate login information for each one,” according to GAO. “The patients we interviewed were frustrated with the amount of time and effort it took to set up these portals, understand each portal’s user interface, and manage all the different passwords.” Healthcareit news reports. 

So, as a healthcare provider, how can you tailor your portals to be as useful as possible, to target patient’s needs?

Appointment Scheduling Feature

Based on the study done by GAO, the patients who did engage with patient portals enjoyed the feature that enabled appointment scheduling.

Using unique location features, this tool finds doctors that work for the patient, depending on the date and times available.

Being able to search for a physician on the web and schedule an appointment, makes the healthcare industry more accessible than ever.

Integrating this feature into your patient portal can result in positive patient engagement.

Secure, Direct Messaging

Giving patients access to directly communicate with their doctors has been seen to be successful while using the patient portal and has also improved patient care.

Messaging can be done by providing patients with a secure email address to contact physicians, for health concerns, with the capability of automated alerts.

“…use of secure physician-patient email communication is associated with a 2 to 6.5 percent improvement in Healthcare Improvement Data Information Set (HEDIS) health measures like glycemic, blood pressure and cholesterol screening and control.” HITConsultant reports.

Mobile Capabilities

The patient portal should be optimized for both mobile and non-mobile, so patients can access this technology wherever they are located.

Providers Are Called to Promote Patient Portals

A survey conducted by HealthMine revealed that only 22% of patients used portals to make medical decisions, and patients did not find value in portals based on lack of understanding information provided.

“While 71 percent of patients are able to easily access and make sense of their health data, 15 percent have more difficulty understanding the information. Ten percent of respondents said they are able to access their EHR data but don’t actually do so, and four percent said they cannot access their EHR data or do not know how to.” The survey  concluded.

The survey also reported that patients were not using the portal to communicate with doctors as frequently as it has been designed to do.

Due to lack of communication, the researcher suggested that providers were not promoting the patient providers in a transparent way after doctor visits.

In order for digital tools to be successfully integrated into the industry, providers have a duty to properly inform patients of the new tools that are seen in the marketplace.

Identifying the areas that patients struggle with while using patient portals is one step to understanding how new the new wave of digital transformation in healthcare can be tailored to meet the needs of the customer.


The Millennium Alliance is pleased to announce that applications for our biannual Healthcare Providers Transformation Assembly is now open. Join leaders from North America’s leading Health Systems at The Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, TX to discuss how the industry is adapting to a healthcare customer-centric transformation.

Patient portals are one example of how healthcare is moving toward customer-centric care and increased patient engagement. Once providers focus on what their patients want while accessing data, patient portals can be created to deliver the most value to both the patient and the provider.

As digital transformation hits the healthcare industry, it is clear that we are entering an innovative time, where new tools are created, forcing both providers and patients to adopt. Customer-centric transformation is sweeping the healthcare industry. New studies are being conducted that suggest patients want to be targeted and personalized in all aspects of healthcare. If the digital tools do not meet the needs of the customer, their potential will not be fulfilled.

Through a series of executive education roundtables, keynote presentations, collaborative think tanks, educational workshops, and networking sessions offering insight into industry-specific topics and trends, will help you stay one step ahead.

This is not just another “Healthcare” event. Spaces are reserved for the best in the business. Apply for Millennium Membership today

Our agendas and attendee lists are for Millennium Members only. Apply today for access!


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