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What are Patient Portals and Does your Practice Have one?

Dovetail Patient Portal

EHRs and practice management software are not the only technologies in a dental office anymore. Patient portals are also becoming common among providers. The rise in patient portals is due to a number of factors including the proliferation of EHRs, federal programs such as the meaningful use initiative as well as growing demand from patients themselves.

What exactly is a patient portal? It is a website that allows patients access to their data, sometimes in real-time. The features in a patient portal depend upon the vendor and standards within the healthcare practice. At the very least, patients are able to view demographic and medical history. Some portals also incorporate additional features such as appointment scheduling, secure messaging, bill payment etc.

How do the Patient Portals Work?

Patient portals are able to show this information because they are connected to the EHR within the practice. Some of the data such as results from lab tests even update in real-time. It is a one-stop shop for patients to check prescriptions, immunization records, discharge summaries and even doctor notes.

Some portals even allow users to download or transmit that data. A patient may want a record of their medical history if they are moving to another state or provider. The ability to take your data comes in handy for patients when they are referred to specialists or other care providers. These portals are especially useful for doctors to manage chronic ailments and guide patients when it comes to medications, scheduling visits and preventive care.

Does Your Practice Have a Patient Portal?

If you don’t already have one, you might be wondering if it is a good idea. One common misunderstanding among providers is that only a few patients in a specific age group are interested. Specifically providers who cater to young children or older citizens assume that their patients will not use these portals. The reality is that parents of young children or the caregivers of senior citizens can benefit from easy access to medical data. In fact, many older patients prefer online access since they don’t have to travel to the clinic for information.

A patient portal is a good idea regardless of your patient demographics. Using one can bring significant benefits to your practice. Both providers and patients who use these portals report that it helps to build a relationship of trust. Patients feel that their dentist cares for their health and they’re not a random face that shows up at the clinic. Patient portals can foster loyalty since users prefer to come back to a provider if they like the portal features.

Another reason to have a patient portal is convenience and efficiency. Who doesn’t like to save some time in today’s busy world? With a single click, patients can access all their medical data, their health records, order prescription refills or even schedule the next appointment without delay. Patients are more likely to keep up with maintenance visits and aftercare as well.

Secure messaging is a very useful feature of patient portals. It provides an accessible method for dentists to communicate important messages to their patients. It is especially important for managing chronic ailments when patients need to change medications or treatments. Patients are more likely to engage with and take control of their healthcare when they can access the relevant information.

Patient portals are almost a necessity in today’s digital world. Some vendors also offer mobile optimized portals for greater convenience. If you don’t already have one, now is the best time to add it to your clinic. Patient portals can help you deliver better care to patients, so what are you waiting for?