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Patient Portals: A Look Forward

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, March 16, 2011
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 Medical records requests are another patient portal function that can produce measureable ROI by eliminating printing, mailing, and other costs. 

“We offer a variety of services, but probably the No. 1 service is requesting medical records,” says Fahl-Watkins. The ability to respond in a second is a big plus. “The average records release costs our practice $6.47 in labor, postage, and supplies. The most minimal release of testing results costs our practice around $3.20,” she says.

Leaders looking to boost the return on their investment in portals should consider using them to reach out to patients in need of care before they come into the office. “In-office care frequently needs to be managed by a physician,” says Brandon Savage, MD, chief medical officer at GE Healthcare IT. “However, many of these proactive use cases can be managed by a nurse or case manager. As a result many more patients can be managed and the patient will feel better taken care of.”

Eventually, payers will also drive up the ROI of patient portals as they increase reimbursement for better efficiency, he adds.

Forward-looking portals

Industry leaders are already noodling with the next iteration of portals.

“The future of the patient portal is unlimited at this point,” says Fahl-Watkins. “I feel like we are just scratching the surface in finding new ways to communicate more thoroughly and efficiently with patients.”

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