September 24th, 2020
If you see a doctor or other health provider regularly, chances are you’ve received an email inviting you to register for the office’s patient portal (also called a patient health record). Although you might not be thrilled about taking the time to create login credentials for yet another website or to learn how to navigate the site, there are some good reasons to do so.
Patient portals are one of the smartest, most convenient innovations in health care today. Although they vary in the options they offer (so your own patient portal might not include all of the options discussed below), here are a few of the ways you can benefit from using them:
- Patient portals save you time. No more calling the doctor’s office, waiting on hold and then having a long conversation with the scheduler as you try to find an open appointment time that works for you. Just click on the availability calendar to make an appointment with your doctor. You can also request prescription refills through the portal, instead of going to the pharmacy and then waiting for the pharmacy to request a refill from the doctor’s office.
- Patient portals are convenient. If your appointment requires paperwork to be filled out, you can do that at home, rather than having to arrive 15-30 minutes ahead of time to complete it. Depending on your portal, you can fill out the forms online or download them and fill out paper copies. You’ll also get convenient email reminders when you’re due for an appointment, test or procedure.
- Patient portals keep you informed. Test results are automatically uploaded to the portal as soon as they’re available, so you don’t have to wait anxiously by the phone. Often your doctor will send you a message describing the results of your test (or you can request a phone call) and you’ll also have access to the specific details of the test for reference.
- Patient portals keep you organized. All of your health information, including visit notes, test results and immunizations, is neatly organized in one place. Many portals include charts that graph past test results so you (and your doctor) can identify any fluctuations that may be concerning. Your health record also includes information about medications you take and allergies you have. This makes it easy for you to provide any information needed to a new doctor you see – and allows your current doctor to easily access all past medical information about you during your appointment.
- Patient portals make communication easy. Following your visit, your doctor can upload notes detailing what was discussed, tests or prescriptions ordered, recommendations made and reminders about follow-ups. You don’t have to try to remember everything the doctor said or take notes during your visit – it’s all right there in the portal. Some portals allow you to send private and secure emails to your doctor if you have additional questions or updates. This is especially helpful because it’s often difficult to get a doctor on the phone once you’ve left the office.
- Patient portals may save you money. Many portals allow you to pay outstanding bills online. This makes it easier for you to remember to pay your bill compared to paper bills that may get lost in the mail or set aside and then overlooked. Paying bills on time helps you avoid any late fees or interest charges. You may also be able to set up an automatic payment schedule if you can’t pay the whole bill at once.
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