Patient Portals are online applications related to healthcare which through which patients can communicate and interact with healthcare providers like their doctors and their hospitals. Patient portals provide a service which is accessible round the clock via the Internet. Some patient portal applications are individual websites that provide a service to healthcare providers at a cost. Other patient portal applications may be incorporated into the website, already in existence, of the healthcare provider. Other patient portal applications come as modules which can be added into an existing EMR (electronic medical record) system.
The common factor in all these services is that patients are able to interact and access their medical data through the internet. At present there is no clear dividing line between a patient’s personal health record, a patient portal and an EMR.
The main feature of a patient portal is its ability to display the health information of an individual patient through the internet in a totally secure environment. Additionally almost all patient portals enable patients to communicate with their healthcare providers by some means. Patient portals increase efficiency and productivity because of which both patients and providers benefit. They are also considered key tools through which physicians are able to meet a ‘meaningful use’ requirement so as to obtain federal incentive checks particularly for providing patients with health information.
Patients can register through some patient portal applications and can also fill in forms online which facilitates their visits to hospitals and clinics for a more productive experience. Through most patient portal applications patients can request refills of prescriptions online, order contact lenses and eyeglasses, pay bills online, examine medical records and lab results, and schedule appointments with their physicians.