News Feature | August 21, 2014

Do Your Patients Know You Have A Portal?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Patient Portals

A recent survey found 40 percent of patients don’t know if their healthcare provider has a web portal.

A recently released Technology Advice survey says many patients don't know if their healthcare provider offers an online patient portal. In a random sample of 430 people, 40 percent said they were not aware of a patient portal offering. Forty-nine percent said they were aware of the portals offered by their provider and another 11 percent said their doctor does not offer one.

“Based on these responses, it appears physicians need to invest more time and resources in educating their patients on the availability of patient portals. Creating in-office orientation programs to walk patients through the portal site would likely reduce the large number of uninformed patients. Such programs would likely boost patient portal interaction numbers as well, and help physicians attest for Meaningful Use Stage 2,” writes Technology Advice.

The survey also asked questions regarding other lines of communication between doctors and patients. More than half of patients reported their doctor did not follow up with them after an appointment and, of those who did, only 9.1 percent did so through an online portal.

“These results suggest there is large room for improvement in post-appointment patient engagement strategies. Physicians are likely missing out on a key opportunity to encourage patient portal usage by failing to orient patients to such online resources, and then failing to provide incentive for them to log on to the platform.”

MobiHealth News reports that a large portion of patients surveyed (42.9 percent) would like to be contacted by phone when it comes to physicians follow up. Twenty-five percent chose email, nearly 14 percent chose online, 13 percent wanted to receive a letter, and 5.4 percent didn’t want their physician to follow up with them.

The survey also found patients prefer phone calls when regarding lab results. Forty-two percent said they would prefer a phone call, 18.7 percent said an email would be best, 14.1 percent would like to view the results online, 12.6 want to receive a letter in the mail, and 11.9 percent prefer a second visit.

Technology Advice concluded, “These findings suggest that many physicians do not have adequate programs in place to introduce patients to such online resources, and are not engaging their patients post-appointment. By investing more resources and time into such initiatives, physicians will likely be able to raise their patient portal engagement rates, meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, and cultivate greater acceptance of online portals in their patient populations.