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Benefits of Using a Patient Portal: Q&A with Dr. Bridget Peterson

Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health recently posed a question asked by one of our readers to Dr. Bridget Peterson, a Clinical Instructor with Washington Health System Family Medicine in Cecil.

Q: What are the benefits of using a patient portal to communicate with my doctor’s office?

Dr. Bridget PetersonIn today’s digital age, more practices are implementing a patient portal for their patients as a way to streamline and improve patient care. At Washington Health System Family Medicine, our outpatient electronic medical record system has a patient portal feature that patients can sign up for through our office.

Here are the three primary benefits to using a patient portal:

1. Improved Communication
A patient portal makes it easier for patients and physicians to communicate with each other. We know how difficult it can be to fit everything into a 20-minute office visit. With the help of a patient portal, patients can send a message to their doctors about any concerns. This opens up the communication between physicians and their patients.

Unlike email communication, patient portals are more secure. Our physicians and nurse practitioners can send patients messages securely, and likewise, our patients can send secure mes-sages to us.

2. More Convenient
Another benefit of a patient portal is the convenience. Patients can also see their lab results faster through the portal. It’s much faster for the doctor to review your results, type a quick message, and send it to you immediately, instead of waiting until later in the day when they have the time to call you on the phone. The patient then has the option to message the doctor back with any clarifying questions.

Also, if patients need their lab results or a portion of their medical record to take to another provider outside of the system, they don’t have to bother coming in and getting it from the front desk. They can just print it out themselves through the portal.

Another great benefit for patients is that they can request prescription refills instantly. This saves time from having to call the physician. Need to schedule an appointment? Patients can login and schedule their next appointment by seeing when their doctor is available and sign themselves up for that available slot.

3. Better Patient Engagement
A patient portal can get a patient to become more involved in their well being. For example, if a patient has diabetes, my patients can send me an update on their blood sugars a couple times a week with a quick note. I can message them in less than a minute to adjust their insulin dose if necessary.

It can also be used to send patients reminders when they are due for any screenings such as a colon cancer screening. Patients can login to the portal and set a reminder.

Finally, we can also send patients educational materials through the portal. If we saw a patient who had an ankle sprain and we wanted you to try some exercises, we can go into the portal and select “exercises for ankle sprain” and the material will be uploaded to the portal so they can review it at anytime.

For more information, please visit: washingtonhospital.org/services/family_medicine

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