Patient portals are a dream come true for many healthcare providers—anything that promotes health involvement is a godsend for ensuring that procedures and checkups go off without a hitch. Carers have sought to incentivize adoption by offering rewards for signups or feedback. But even with these measures, it seems that patients aren’t as interested.


Though portals are intended as a hub for any sort of patient need, promoting easy EHR access and medical updates, few patients are choosing to adopt. Across all demographics, usage is low—though in many cases, it appears as if doctors are infrequently recommending portals to patients. This raises the question of whether more educative measures might help improve adoption.


How are patient portals beneficial?


On the care provider side, patient portals allow organizations to stay compliant by offering EHR access while providing patients with the tools and information they need to improve their own health. For patients, research has shown that portals empower individuals to take control of their own health with easy access to data. On both sides, portals can easily facilitate communication between all parties and allow for a more holistic look at how a patient’s status progresses over time.


What are the issues with patient portals?


Even when promoting the use of online tools, some patients may not adopt for a variety of reasons. Some simply do not see the need. For older individuals, many reported that they preferred not to use portals because of potential data security risks—a notion likely spawned from recent data breaches.


Indeed, it is up to care providers to both create a secure infrastructure for patient usage and ensure adequate understanding of what portals can offer. If providers fail to work with patients on education, then they overlook the benefits of engagement that are such a draw.


How can patient portals be improved?


As with any other facet of patient engagement, carers must listen to the voices of their patients before adopting any sort of solution. In the face of widespread misunderstanding about the use of patient portals, improving the user experience can go a long way at ensuring that individuals regularly use these tools. In this case, specific customizations can even help address care disparities for minority groups and ensure equal access for all.


In a similar manner, providers should reconsider the way they communicate about patient portals. Doctors are the primary point of trust between organizations and patients, and as a result, their recommendations can go a long way. They should be able and willing to speak to the positives and answer patient questions in a professional way.


There’s no “best” strategy for encouraging patient portal adoption. Even so, care organizations that have worked toward improving patient buy-in have found immense benefits for all involved.