Advantages and Disadvantages of Patient Portals

Patient portals can have a profound impact on patient engagement and patient outcomes. According to one study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, patient portals have the potential to enhance the doctor-patient relationship, improve health status awareness, and increase adherence to treatment plans.

Patient portals are becoming more commonplace in every medical field, but their features and capabilities vary. It’s clear that patient portals provide advantages to both patients and providers, but change can be daunting. Below, we’ll address some advantages and disadvantages of patient portals, and ways your practice can address problems before they appear.


What Are Patient Portals?

A patient portal is a secure online platform that allows patients to access their personal health information and interact with healthcare providers. Portals are typically secure web-based applications that patients can access using a computer or mobile device from anywhere.

Patient portals are designed to improve patient engagement and communication between patients and healthcare providers. Patients can use the portal to view their medical records, test results, immunization records, and medications. They can also schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and communicate with their healthcare providers through secure messaging.

In addition to providing patients with convenient access to their health information, patient portals can also help to streamline administrative tasks for healthcare providers. Patients can complete forms and update their personal information through the portal, which can save time on in-office visits and reduce data entry errors.

Advantages of Patient Portals

Patient portals have been widely adopted for many reasons. Because portals allow patients to review and interact directly with their profiles, medical information, bills, and more, they provide many advantages and streamline medical and administrative processes for practice staff.

Some advantages of a patient portal include:
  1. Convenient access to medical information: Patient portals allow patients to access their medical information such as test results, prescription history, and medical history from anywhere with an internet connection. This can save time and effort for both patients and healthcare providers.
  2. Improved communication with healthcare providers: Patients can use the portal to communicate with their healthcare providers and ask questions about their health. Providers can respond to messages at their convenience, reducing the need for phone calls and in-person appointments. Some portals even support self-scheduling, making it easier and more convenient for patients to schedule appointments.
  3. Better management of health information: Patients can update their personal information and medical history in the portal. Many patient portals can be configured to automatically feed information into patients’ electronic health records (EHRs). Information coming straight from the patient into your system saves administrative and medical staff time and paperwork, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring that healthcare providers have up-to-date information.
  4. Increased patient engagement and participation: Patients who use the portal can become more engaged in their healthcare by tracking their health information, setting goals, and monitoring their progress. The ability to view health records and lab results at any time can help patients understand their health and take action earlier and more consistently.
  5. Better ability to track health overall: When paired with remote patient monitoring devices, patient portals can allow for individuals to upload their vitals for their care team to reference. Patients can take control of their own health journey by engaging with a patient portal or mobile application outside of a clinical setting, improving their medical care, health literacy, and overall patient satisfaction.

Disadvantages of Patient Portals

However, adjusting your team and workflows to include a patient portal can pose some risks. Access to patient information can result in better care, but can also raise concerns about online access, health literacy, and privacy concerns. 

Some potential disadvantages of patient portals include:
  1. Limited access for patients who don’t use technology: Patients who don’t have access to technology or are not comfortable using the internet may not be able to use the patient portal. Disparities in age, technological literacy, and internet access can make use of patient portals intimidating or unattractive to some patients. Be sure to include alternatives for communication in your workflows to patients who may require it.
  2. Potential for information overload: Patients may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available in the portal and may not know how to interpret or use the information. While patient access to personal health records can improve patient engagement, concise summaries, educational resources, and prompt follow-up calls and visits can help patients not feel overwhelmed or ignored when using a portal.
  3. Risk of data breaches and security concerns: Patient portals store sensitive health information, which could be vulnerable to data breaches if proper security measures are not in place. Privacy concerns should be paramount for any healthcare organizations, so Benchmark Systems uses advanced encryption technology and user authentication to protect patient data.
  4. Challenges encouraging adoption: Even with a portal available, not all patients are aware of how to register, or sometimes, they just aren’t interested. It’s important to help patients understand that patient portals can provide better care with less time spent in the doctor’s office. If a patient is resistant to use of the patient portal, talk to them and help them understand how the system works, what they can do in the portal, and how to do it.

At Benchmark Solutions, we’re aware of these risks, and we do everything we can to ensure our clients can offer secure, user-friendly portal access to their patients. Ensuring the security and compliance of our patient portal is of paramount importance to protect sensitive patient information and maintain the trust of our clients and those they serve. Our authentication and access control systems, secure data storage, data encryption, and dedicated support teams ensure our systems remain secure and your patients feel supported and protected.

Benchmark Systems Patient Portal Demo
Benchmark Systems Patient Portal Demo


Benchmark Solutions Can Build Your Perfect Portal

Benchmark Solutions offers a variety of fully customizable patient-facing care management solutions. Benchmark EHR and Benchmark PM offer innovative, powerful, and intuitive patient portal interfaces for collaborative, easy-to-understand, and efficient patient care.

With Benchmark Solutions, your clinicians and practice staff can do more with less time. Automated feeds can disseminate patient information from portals, to billing, to electronic medical records, to practice management systems, so everyone’s on the same page — including your patients.

If you’re ready to experience our purpose-built, interoperable healthcare management solutions, call us today. Our in-house health management experts want to hear about your goals, and walk you through what’s possible.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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