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Patient Portals Can Be a Win for You and Your Patients

Dec 19, 2023

Online patient portals can be an integral part of the patient-provider relationship. Encouraging more patients to communicate through a portal more frequently with their health team can reduce phone calls coming into the provider’s office, require fewer appointments for reviewing lab results and empower patients to access their health information when convenient for them.

(Reference: Patient Portal Optimization Empower Patients as Partners in Health Care - AMA STEPS Forward)

While some gaps still remain in functionality, Inspira’s patient portal team continues to explore and add new features. Patients will soon be able to view/download/print Imaging Orders and Lab Orders written by IMG providers. However, patients are not able to view radiology images through the portal and, when a provider enters a referral into Cerner, patients are not able to access it at this time.

Here’s how you and your office staff can benefit by increased portal use.

1. Using the portal can save time and increases efficiency, say some physicians

“Using the portal is much more efficient for providers,” said Tammy Turner, D.O., a family medicine doctor at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Mantua. “Many patients don’t answer their phones the first time, and physicians may not be available when they call back, so they’re constantly playing phone tag. Portal messages are more efficient because patients and physicians can read messages and respond at their convenience, even on the weekends when our office isn’t open.”

Additionally, patients can request prescription refills, access test results and complete necessary forms electronically through the portal.

2. Nurses can triage messages sent through the portal

It’s important to know that your nurse pool is responsible for the first triage of portal requests. Any time-sensitive or pertinent messages that require follow-up are forwarded to the appropriate provider.

3. Online patient portals improve patient engagement

By offering secure messaging features, clinicians can communicate more efficiently—answering questions, addressing concerns and providing information so patients can stay engaged in their own health care. Staying in consistent contact for symptom follow-up or medication feedback allows providers to be more actively involved and encourages patients to take control of their health. Patients can also share at-home clinical information, such as blood pressure logs.

4. Providers can see if a patient has opened a message

“There has been some confusion over whether or not providers and support staff can see if a patient has read a message you sent them,” said Dr. Turner. “The portal does inform you when your patient has received and read a message.”

5. Getting patients to use the portal is easy

Dr. Turner and others in her practice have found that getting patients to use the portal takes little convincing. “Patients are happy to hear they can avoid waiting on hold and navigating a directory [of phone prompts],” she said. “They also appreciate the benefits of accessing their lab work directly on their phones or computers and the ability to reach out to their provider with questions all at once.”

Inspira Medical Group providers can contact the Cerner IT team with questions or support requests.