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patient portal

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A patient portal is a web-based access point that enables self-serve health IT services for patients.

Patient portals are used for secure patient access to data related to the patient’s personal care, as well as scheduling appointments and communicating with healthcare professionals.

Patients can use these portals through web browsers or mobile apps, connecting patients to health IT systems from anywhere in the world. Patients log in with personal credentials to ensure privacy and security. Information from databases of records is made digestible for patients by conversion to plain language and laymen’s terms. These database records may be self-reported or reported by healthcare professionals.

Some of the information available from patient portals includes:

  • Reports from recent doctor visits
  • Results of lab tests
  • Discharge summaries
  • Immunization records
  • Allergies
  • Patient education materials
  • Secure email
  • Prescription refill ordering
  • Information on benefits and coverage
  • Self-serve updates of patient information
  • Downloadable forms
  • Payment processing

Patient portals improve patient education, involvement and patient-to-practitioner communication. Along with evidence-based medicine and patient similarity, patient portals enhance patient-provider understanding and contribute to improving patient outcomes. One way this improvement occurs is through increased reporting of symptoms due to more ready communication access. The improved communication, reporting and mutual understanding help make both doctors and patients more able to engage in proactive health care.

This was last updated in June 2017

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