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Engaging patients through patient portals

Patient engagement refers to ongoing and constructive exchange between patients and their providers. Within the scope of healthcare IT, patient engagement is driven by technology such as patient portals, which enables patients to view test results and records online and communicate with healthcare providers. So what exactly is a patient portal? It is a tool […]

Patient engagement refers to ongoing and constructive exchange between patients and their providers. Within the scope of healthcare IT, patient engagement is driven by technology such as patient portals, which enables patients to view test results and records online and communicate with healthcare providers.

So what exactly is a patient portal? It is a tool within the Electronic Health Record (EHR) software which gives patients access to their clinical information from their homes or any other remote location. In addition, it serves as a medium to keep providers and patients connected at all times, thereby increasing practice workflows.

With access to patient portals, patients no longer have to wait in a queue just to request appointments or a copy of their records. All they need to do is to log in and schedule appointments or review any updates that have been made to their medical information.

Not only the patient himself, patient portals can also encourage involvement of patients’ families, and other healthcare providers since many patients depend on their support. Patient portals have been shown to facilitate patient self-management by motivating patients to care for themselves and by informing patients about their health status. Examples of patient engagement activities through the use of EHRs include:

  • viewing medical records and crucial medical data
  • conducting transactions with providers, such as secure messaging with providers, refilling prescriptions, scheduling appointments
  • accessing medical knowledge and health information materials
  • managing personal health information such as blood pressure, weight
  • participating in health-related social media

Patient engagement is valuable for all patients and is especially crucial for those suffering with chronic diseases since they have to manage difficult conditions on a daily basis.

In addition, patient portals can also be used by the provider to identify customized educational resources for patients and providing those resources to them. Due to these factors, healthcare provision not only becomes more effective, it also reduces the chances of repeated visits to the provider since a patient who is actively engaged in his own care is comparatively ready to take on health related challenges in the future.

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