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What Is A Patient Portal?

By Planet DDS
April 20, 2022

By Dr. Greg Grillo

Patients visit our offices with many consumer expectations that extend beyond the operatory. They pay their phone bills through an app, make restaurant reservations online, and consult their physicians via telemedicine. A patient portal opens a virtual door to our practice that everyone appreciates. It brings us up-to-speed with the rest of their daily experiences and gives our teams much-needed support. Better engagement builds stronger relationships even if there is no human interaction involved.

What Is A Patient Portal?

A patient portal provides direct access to many functions that drive business operations and success. These activities take time and can be a reason appointments run behind. Our staff feels that stress. Patients can jump on and fill intake forms, update health histories, schedule appointments, and more. A patient portal saves our practices money by freeing our staff to work on high-priority patient interactions. Once our practice started using this tool the question changed from, “What is a patient portal” to “How did we ever live without this?”

What Are The Benefits Of A Patient Portal?

At least 90% of healthcare organizations offer patient portals, so our patients expect this access, and they’re surprised if they don’t find one. Consider these five benefits of patient portals:

1. Better Office Efficiency

Patients don’t like starting their visit with a clipboard or tablet in the waiting room, and it doesn’t help us stay on schedule, either. An online portal helps streamline communication with our patients, especially when bringing new patients into the practice. Patients can fill out intake forms at their convenience, and arrive ready to go. They’re more likely to provide accurate information when they don’t feel rushed and can take time to check current medications.

2. Fewer Barriers To Scheduling

If a patient wants to schedule an appointment, how many options do they have? In many practices, patients need to break free from their busy day to call us between our working hours. They’re more accustomed to setting up reservations online, so making a phone call may feel stifling. An online portal allows them to conveniently book or manage appointments and frees up time for our staff to focus on in-office interactions.

3. Improved Patient Experience

Convenience tools continue to gain importance as consumer expectations evolve. About one-third of Gen Z and Millenials prefer online portals and chat features to communicate with their providers. 70% of patients want communication in healthcare to match other industries. A patient portal elevates the user experience and opens access to features they expect to find. Happy patients lead to positive reviews and more referrals.

4. Faster Adoption Of Teledentistry

Nearly 40% of patients have recently attended a virtual medical appointment, and this trend appears steady as the pandemic retreats. A patient portal gives patients another way to connect with our offices and frees up time for our teams to reach more patients. Our office moved 3-5 hours of chair time to teledentistry, which significantly impacted our efficiency in 2020. Teledentistry visits fit between in-office appointments and don’t require room turnover or additional staffing.

5. Reduced Input Errors

In many offices, a staff member takes information over the phone or from a form and enters data into their system. This method is inefficient and runs the risk of input errors. A missed medication can lead to clinical mistakes, and a miskeyed insurance group number can lead to returned claims.  A portal allows the patient to provide their information at their convenience. Mistakes can still occur, but a slight reduction in errors means significant benefits for everyone.

How To Get Patients To Sign Up For A Patient Portal

Some practices struggle with getting patients to sign up for a patient portal. Once our patients start using portals, we notice steady engagement. They’re familiar with portals since 40% of patients have used them at other healthcare facilities. Consider a strategy to boost adoption:

  • Create a few talking points for the admin team to use when patients check-in and out.
  • Develop a simple, one-page flier to hand patients on their way out that tells them how to set up their portal.
  • Add a custom message to Legwork Dental Appointment Reminders or statements with a link to set up a portal.
  • Put a notice and link on your website about your portal.
  • Post on social media about the feature and link to it.
  • Send out an email to your patients highlighting the benefits mentioned in this article, and include a link for sign-up.

Shifting even a small percentage of your patients to a portal allows your staff to serve patients more efficiently. You’ll be surprised how many patients end up there with a consistent approach. Consider using Legwork Campaigns to help implement some of these strategies and boost portal adoption in your practice. A patient portal opens another door for patients to stay connected with your practice, especially as their preferences change. Nearly 50% of patients say that convenience is the top priority when choosing a healthcare provider. This criterion includes physical location, but consumers expect online options to be standard features of most brands in 2022. Make A Patient Portal Work For You Legwork Patient Portal offers appointment scheduling and online forms within a secure, seamless interface. Pre-loaded, standard forms make it a breeze to collect patient info, medical records, dental history, insurance info, authorizations, and manage communication. After completing the initial intake, all subsequent forms are pre-populated with patient data to save time, minimize errors, and increase patient satisfaction.  Better yet, the system automatically notifies patients when forms need updating. Patient portals are like having another staff member working for you 24/7. If you’d like to increase patient satisfaction and staff efficiency, this is one tool to add today!