Patient Portal: Bringing Healthcare to All


Patient Portal: Bringing Healthcare to All

Digital health is quickly becoming the way to correct historical wrongs and bring healthcare to patients who have trouble accessing it. While eHealth and telehealth encompass the overarching digital healthcare, the specific software and tools solve numerous problems for patients and providers. That is why most health execs in the past years have focused on investing in technologies to increase patient engagement and improve clinical results. Patient health portals are one such tool.

The Growing Demand for Healthcare Portals

According to Deloitte, 92% of healthcare leaders undergoing the digital transformation journey hope to improve patient experience through technology. The trajectory of healthcare transformation is patient-centered, offering an outside-in approach to maximize health benefits for individuals on the receiving end. With the ONC’s Cures Act, health information exchange has been brought into focus, with the idea of offering a seamless and secure health information exchange.

The market for patient portals in healthcare is rapidly growing: in 2022, the market was valued at $3.61 billion. This number is expected to grow until 2026, reaching $7.10 billion. This demand for digital solutions is in line with the other growing trends in the healthcare industry. According to MSI International, 25% of patients are willing to switch their care provider if it would give them access to remote patient monitoring. In other words, patients are aware of the benefits of telehealth solutions, and the adoption of these technologies is rising.

Benefits of Patient Portals

To qualify for incentive payments through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services EHR Incentive Programs, care providers and hospitals must demonstrate “meaningful use”: they must achieve specific objectives and offer clear patient benefits. In stages, they developed as follows:

  • Stage 1 (2011-2012): Data capture and sharing
  • Stage 2 (2014): Advanced clinical processes
  • Stage 3 (2016): Improved outcomes

The focus of this shift in healthcare comes with recognizing just how useful digital technologies can be in healthcare delivery and how necessary it is to implement and use these tools properly.

An online patient portal does many things:

  • It gives patients quick and easy access to their health information
  • It protects patient privacy and security, allowing for secured message exchange within the medical organization’s EHR system
  • It improves patient engagement, which has been linked with improved clinical results
    92% of US residents say that quick and easy access to their medical records is essential. However, almost half of the users (45%) report having trouble accessing it through their patient portal or physician’s office (42%). Quick and easy access is a must, but it can’t be achieved if this technology isn’t user-friendly or if it isn’t implemented correctly.

As mentioned above, digital transformation is a long journey, and many medical organizations are somewhere between the start and middle. That is why 77% of health executives are investing in enhanced portals and mobile apps to offer easier use to their patients, and 50% are planning on investing in systems that interact with patients through text messages.

Online Patient Portal Use

The benefits of this technology go beyond quick and easy access to information. Patients who use portals are turned into activated patients, driving better clinical results and taking a more active role in their healthcare delivery. From there, they reap the practical benefits of online health tools – patients relying on portals usually do so for the following reasons:

  • To get medical information
  • To interact with their care provider
  • To schedule appointments
  • To fill out medical forms

Recent studies show that patient portals for healthcare play a more prominent role in accessing healthcare than other technologies that offer that same benefit, such as mHealth. In fact, according to recent data, portal use is as follows:

  • 18% of patients of hospital physicians have used portals to fill out the needed forms
  • 17% of patients have used patient portals to schedule an appointment., while 16% did so via the practice’s website, and 5% used text messages
  • 15% of family practice patients relied on portals to schedule appointments, 5% used the practice’s website, and 2% relied on texts

Patient Health Portals and Provider Recommendations

The adoption of portals among patients hinges heavily on the care provider’s recommendation. Providers are concerned with the “meaningful use” measurement, which quantifies the number of patients using a portal and then judges a clinic’s success based on that number. An additional fear among providers is that portals drastically increase their workload, leading to higher burnout rates among clinicians. It is interesting to note racial disparities among provider recommendations.

On average, clinicians offer healthcare portals to their Black and Hispanic patients 5% less than they do with their White patients. While 65% of White patients said their care providers offered them portals, only 54% of Black and 49% of Hispanic patients reported the same. But racial differences can be witnessed in how patients of different backgrounds utilize portals:

  • Black and Hispanic patients were 7.9% less likely to access their portals than their White counterparts.
  • Black and Hispanic patients who did access their portal were 12% more likely to use it to download or transmit information.

When it comes to how they use their patient portal in healthcare, White people mostly did so to look at test results, while Black and Hispanic people placed more emphasis on secure messaging and downloading and transmitting data.

We can also see the disparity in use among men and women: female patients aged 41 to 65 were more likely to log in to their portal than their male counterparts. Additionally, non-smokers and people living in geographically distant areas were more likely to use a healthcare portal, with 82% of patients in rural areas regularly referring to portals to access their health information.

Patient Portals in Healthcare and Cost Reduction

As mentioned above, portals drive better clinical results by turning patients into activated patients. That is why relying on this technology had a direct effect on hospital stays pertaining to two conditions: COVID-19 and heart failure.

Hospitalized patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis who used portals had a 1.1 shorter hospital stay than patients who did not. Similarly, patients hospitalized due to a heart disease who used this technology would stay in the hospital for 0.6 days shorter than those who did not.

A successfully implemented patient portal directly correlates to cost reduction: US health systems cut costs considerably when patient stays are shorter. The average hospital stay could run up to $11,700 with Medicare.

Patient Portal Statistics, Infographic

Our Experience

Vicert has decades of experience developing software to fit our client’s needs. Creating a proper patient portal is one of our areas of expertise, but don’t take our word for it. Check out some of our solutions below and book a call to see if we can develop a solution that fits your medical organization.

Patient Registration App with EHR Integration
Employer Portal