It has been found that people who engage with healthcare providers through online patient portals benefit from improved health outcomes. Researchers at The University of Texas partnered with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to study the patient portal logs for 3,266 patients with congestive heart failure over 12 years.
Multiple benefits of patient portals for patients were discovered throughout the study. Patient health outcomes were improved in several ways after the continued use of a patient portal. Patients who effectively used a portal were 2-4% less likely to be hospitalized. Those who engaged with the portal were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency room. The average length of stay after being hospitalized decreased by 11%. Readmission rates were about 2% lower among users of patient portals compared to those who did not make use of a patient portal.
During the study, researchers noted which portal features were most frequently used by the patients. Below we summarize how certain patient portal features result in reduced inpatient visits, 30-day readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.
Lab results and medical history
Lab results can be automatically uploaded to the patient portal from the EHR or lab. A patient can be notified by an alert when their test results are available. Access to lab results and medical history improves the accuracy of patient health information as providers can update the info as soon as anything changes. Access to these features allows for ease of access for providers to patient medication history, lab results, and health summary. These features provide accurate and comprehensive information for both patients and providers. This leads to many benefits of patient portals in healthcare as providers can gain valuable insight into the patient’s overall health. Providers are able to determine the level of adherence to a medical regimen and care plans in order to work with the patient to make improvements.
A secure HIPAA-compliant messaging platform allows patients to communicate with health providers and vice versa. Patients get a notification when a new message is waiting for them. Providers can respond to incoming messages through the patient portal, or directly from their EHR using an interface. Secure messaging improves communication between patients and providers. This increase in communication improves care coordination and allows for shared decision making. Patients are able to provide their healthcare providers with updates regarding their health, which allows both parties to monitor disease progression.
Prescription refill request and appointment scheduling
Patient self-scheduling software allows patients to book appointments at their own convenience. Self-scheduling allows patients to select their doctor and preferred visit time from a list of available appointment slots. Appointment scheduling improves visit adherence and reduces no-show rates. Prescription refill requests allow the patient to order a refill of their medication through the patient portal. This feature within a patient portal benefits adherence to a medication regimen. Both features increase patient satisfaction and self-efficacy.
Healthcare organizations should consider increasing patient engagement through access to the patient portal in order to increase patient outcomes by decreasing inpatient visits, readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.
Bridge Patient Portal is an important part of how our clients communicate with their patients. At Bridge, we think its important to share ways that Bridge Patient Portal can be used to help our clients meet their patients’ needs during this challenging time.
The Bridge team is available to help with any of the below items, AT NO COST, as part of our commitment to providing our clients the highest level of support in these situations.
Throughout Bridge, clients are able to place an “Alert Message” (see the images below) to help educate patients on any changes taking place with a client.
Homepage Alert Message:
Appointments Alert Message:
Messages Alert Message:
There is also a “Custom Widget” which can be placed on the portal home page to provide detailed information, such as links to external resources (i.e. CDC), symptom information, visit/scheduling protocol, etc.
Mass Messaging (SMS & Email)
In the Bridge admin panel, clients can filter patients by many different criteria (i.e. age, provider, active portal account, etc.) then type in a message to be sent to all patients meeting the filter criteria. The message can be sent in an SMS or Email format.
Automated Pre/Post Visit Messages
Using the Bridge admin panel, clients can create automated email notifications to be sent before and/or after a certain appointment type. This could be used, for example, to educate patients on a new visit policy.
Bridge is committed to fully developing its telemedicine solution in 2020. This has been many years in the making as the Bridge team has carefully watched the telemedicine market for trends, new innovations, and standout vendors. We will be working closely with our clients in the coming months to evaluate the best course of action for our telemedicine solution and explore partnerships with industry-leading vendors.
In the meantime, there are many features in Bridge to help our clients facilitate telemedicine encounters and online communication with their patients.
Secure Patient-Provider Messaging – Bridge supports secure messaging between patients and providers or delegated to a provider’s team. Interface permitting, messages can be received and replied to in the provider’s EHR. Many questions can be answered in this way and for providers using patient-provider messaging already, this is the most commonly used feature in the portal. Educating patients that this is a reliable way to communicate with the provider for non-emergent questions, especially defining the protocol for when a message should be sent to a provider. This protocol can be shared with the patient in the messaging feature, using the “Alert Message” feature.
Telemedicine Appointment Scheduling – Bridge offers appointment requests and self-scheduling functionality. Depending on the telemedicine program of a particular client, different options are available for helping patients schedule a telemedicine appointment. In first place, a telemedicine appointment type can be created, which would then allow better organization of provider schedules. If self-scheduling is already in use, a protocol that manages the times and providers that a telemedicine appointment can be scheduled can be created in Bridge. Again, using the “Alert Message” feature, clients can educate their patients on how to schedule a telemedicine appointment.
Facilitating Video Conferencing – Once an appointment is scheduled a message can be sent to the patient with a link to the video conference. It’s important that whichever video conferencing solution is used, that it meets HIPAA requirements. (Improving this functionality is where Bridge will be investing most of its efforts in 2020)
DISCLAIMER: Client environments and the capabilities of their environments can vary. Some functionality may not be available in certain environments. Please speak with a Bridge client manager to learn more.