The patient portal system has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my practice in 21 years. Rarely, a day goes by where at least several of my patients will comment unprovoked how they love the system.
Since starting the process over a year ago, I have about three quarters of my patients actively using the portal system.
The portal system uses the e-mail address for the username, and then a computer generated password assigned to the patient as a password. The communication occurs in an encrypted form, and meets the HIPAA guidelines as a secure method to electronically communicate with our patients, and I refer to this as secure messaging. I have my staff utilize this terminology, as e-mailing is not HIPAA compliant, and not allowed as a mode of communication with patients in our office.
Contacting the office, instead of the telephone for non emergent requests, has been extremely beneficial, such as for appointment requests or medication refills.
Being able to send laboratory results 3-4 days before the annual visit has been well received by my patients who can then compare to last years results, cogitate, print and take notes before the actual face to face visit.
Normal mammograms, DEXA, pap smear results can be sent immediately with a templated letter attached modified by my nurse for personalization, as soon as the result enters the inbox on the computer.
One other really cool feature is the practice wide broadcast, where I design a letter, such as, “The flu shot is now available please call or message Dawn to make an appointment.” This feature confirms what a different world we live in from just a few years ago, because within one to two hours, 300-400 patients will have read the message, and 80-90% by 24-48 hours, as the messages appear read in the inbox of the computer when opened by the patient.
Not only because of the patient satisfaction, but also for improved operational efficiency, I highly recommend the portal system in any small office based practice.