Should Doctors Make the Patient Internet Portal Leap?

An ME-P Readers Survey

By Staff Reporters

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Patient Portals

In healthcare, for example, the use of patient website portals is a hotly debated topic. These are [should be]  sophisticated HIPPA compliant and secure Web sites offered by medical practices to help engage patients electronically, with the promise of better service and care for patients — and less hassle for the medical practice, doctors and nurses. Often clinical, insurance and financial data gathering and scheduling functions are included, along with separate patient log-in, e-prescribing, and laboratory result features, etc. The promise of eMRs only increases the sophistication of these burgeoning sites.

Use Still in Infancy

But, according to unscientific sampling of our clients and technically sophisticated practices [skewed cohort], physicians note that the uptake of portal use by patients outside of tech savvy urban centers is still small, although use by senior citizens is rapidly increasingly. And, tech savvy youngsters are typically not in need of healthcare.

The Survey Question

So, this raises the question, unanswered by other professionally focused websites like Physicians Practice, should you make the patient portal leap?


Before we answer that question, let’s provide a bit more historical detail on this technology. In contrast to a traditional [first generation – health 1.0] practice Web site, which provides smiling pictures of the physicians, directions, hours of operation, policies, and maybe a smattering of educational materials, a patient portal is designed for active interaction between patient and practice [second generation – health 2.0].


As an example, a patient portal typically provides secure e-mail, allowing the patient to make a quick query of the physician (and presumably receive a reasonably quick response) without the delay and inconvenience of attempting to catch the physician on the phone between visits or after hours. Patient portals can also be used for open-source scheduling, allowing patients to make requests for particular times and days.


Finally, the newest and most sophisticated patient e-MR engaged portals will allow patients to take a peek inside their patient record, giving them online (and secure) access to their medication list, recent labs, and other data that might be useful in self management, or if the patient is seeing another provider, etc. 


And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Should doctors and medical clinics make the patient portal leap? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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