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Patient Portals: A Look Forward

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, March 16, 2011
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If you have a patient portal, chances are you aren’t using it to its full potential. And if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on benefits from increased efficiency to improved patient satisfaction to an edge in the marketplace. And, experts predict, the capabilities of patient portals are only going to increase over the next few years. What remains to be seen is whether all this innovation will have an impact on market share and quality of care and whether significant numbers of consumers and providers will embrace them.

A January HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report found that only 25% of physician practices with an EHR have patient portals and only 21% of hospital-based systems have them. And those that do have them aren’t exactly thrilled. Only 12% and 9% of physician practice- and hospital-based respondents, respectively, said they’re strongly satisfied with their patient portal’s capabilities.

Whichever camp you fall into, many say keeping up with the technology could help your organization retain a competitive advantage.

“In the future there will be more healthcare organizations using portals as a resource for patients to see valuable health information, but also as a way to increase patient loyalty and to grow market share,” says Kim Gordon, integration solutions manager at Grand Rapids, MI–based Spectrum Health, a nine-hospital system. “I see patient portals in healthcare moving from being used as a competitive advantage and patient satisfaction initiative to becoming something that a consumer of healthcare services demands and expects.”

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