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Patient Portals Aren't That Convenient

June 03,2016

Even though patient portals have various benefits, provide easier dissemination of information, and allow patients to see their lab results, there are major drawbacks that keep patient portals from being widely utilized by patients, physicians, and hospitals for meaningful use requirements.


For instance, they are not accessible by low-income minorities (1) as many of them do not have access to a desktop or a computer. They mainly access the internet through their mobile devices (2), which is why secure messaging is rapidly becoming a communication tool for medical professionals to communicate with patients across all demographics.


Many patient portals do not have portability, provide limited access to data, and have inconsistent features, as shown in the report by Chillmark Research (3):


Most deployed patient portals today have limited or no mobile-friendly patient tools (beyond mobile-optimized browsers) or advanced care planning applications.



They also do not provide immediate access and convenience for many patients, and are treated as an afterthought for the health providers and staff who maintain communication through patient portals. They also are not regularly updated as they should be.


The user interface (UX/UI) on many patient portals are outdated (4), awkward, and not easy to use for patients. Necessary information is not easily found, and navigating to send an email message to a health provider can take a while. In contrast, with a secure messaging app like IM Your Doc, it takes just a tap on a mobile device to send a message, and get a read receipt.


Secure messaging offers a richer suite of benefits for patients, providers, and hospitals. And it also improves care coordination, reduces hospital readmissions and the length of stay for patients in the hospital system (5):


A study of some 11,500 patients at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center found a 14 percent reduction in overall patient stays when care coordination was handled with text messaging


The use of secure messaging increased by 30% from 2013 to 2014 (6), and 52% of physicians said that they had exchanged secure messages in 2014. They used secure messaging because it was faster than email, quicker than phone tag, pagers, patient portals, and faxes in reaching their patients. And patient satisfaction also increased with the use of secure messaging, as one internal study by Kaiser Permanente (7) found.


Patient portals require educating the patient, signing them up, and teaching them how to navigate the system. It also is not easy to use on mobile devices for some patient portal vendors. In contrast, the secure health messaging app by IM Your Doc is easy to download with just a click, easily opened, and accessed by both providers and patients without a lengthy hassle.


For more on how physicians can now send orders, prescribe medicines, attach files and health records using secure messaging, contact us at 1 (800) 409 8078, or send us an e-mail here.


(1)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25880485

(2)http://www.fiercemobilehealthcare.com/story/smartphones-have-potential-reduce-health-disparities-america/2012-10-23

(3)http://www.chilmarkresearch.com/2015/02/10/20142015-clinical-patient-engagement-report-now-available/

(4)http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-blog/hospitals-why-are-you-surprised-nobody-wants-to-use-your-patient-portal.html

(5)http://mhealthintelligence.com/news/text-messaging-study-shows-clinical-benefits

(6)http://healthitsecurity.com/features/how-healthcare-secure-texting-messaging-impact-the-industry

(7)http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/2/251.full