Monday, February 1, 2010

Melissa Young, MD: The patient portal

A patient portal has been touted as a time saver, an efficient and secure way for patients to communicate with the office. It’s supposed to save money and effort, too, by decreasing time spent by the staff and the physician on the phone.

I cross my fingers. Quite honestly, two weeks ago, I considered ditching the whole thing.

First of all, it took more effort than I envisioned to get it going. It doesn’t help that you are required to develop a “portal authorization form,” something for the patients to fill out saying that they understand the purpose of the portal and what their responsibilities are, etc, etc. But the vendor can’t give you a template for this form. They can’t give you an example. I didn’t really understand the explanation for why they can’t. Ah, but Google is a wonderful thing, and I found one.
Read more
Then there are the various disclaimers you have to post (that the vendor can’t help you with either). You know the disclaimers like, “we try to keep your information private, but well, stuff happens and we can’t be held responsible if someone hacks into the site,” and “if you received this in error, please tell us, otherwise you will be in big trouble.”

And let’s talk about the cost. It seemed like a minimal expense compared to everything else at first. But now that there are a million other things to pay for, and I’m looking around to find the least expensive toilet paper, I realize that there is no such thing as a minimal expense. I had planned to offer the service for free, but I was advised to at least charge an administrative fee. I chose to have a one-time fee, as opposed to a yearly one.
And I figured that two to three patients a month would cover the annual fee I pay.

Well, perhaps I over-estimated the number of patients who would be interested. After having the portal up and running for almost three months, we had people express interest in using it, but nobody who had actually signed up.

Until two weeks ago. And that just gave me fodder for next week’s blog entry.


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  2. Sorry to hear this Melissa. You obviously went with the wrong EMR company, and were too quick in setting up a patient portal. After nearly 8 years of being "electronic" I am still not convinced about the value of such a patient portal. And, to ask patients to ship in with this economic crisis, is not a smart idea. Besides, people are always looking for a free lunch or service.

  3. How about a free EMR/EHR that has a secure patient portal? We have used it for 3 years and our patients LOVE it.
    It's fee and it's online: