Adoption of Patient Portals Grows Worldwide
Reading Time: 5 minutes read
Increased patient engagement and satisfaction with providers fuel growth.
As consumers, we go online to purchase clothes and furniture, do our banking, and make travel arrangements. So it’s only natural that we are receptive to logging in to patient portals to view our healthcare information.
At Carestream, we see increasing worldwide adoption of patient portals that incorporate diagnostic images. In Latin America, private providers tell us that having a patient portal gives them a competitive advantage, and helps them build customer loyalty. For public providers in Europe, portals are a proof point that they are spending public dollars in a way that directly benefits patients.
In Greece, Euromedica’s Medical Director, Dr. Patsinakidis, said that patients like the technology and the ability to find out more about their diseases, as well as to see and share their images. He told us that the patient portal “enhances greatly the experience of our patients because they can have very easy access to their whole imaging portfolio. They can link to our portal and in a secure way they can download, view, and share their studies. This is very important because we are in an era where people are very much into new technologies, and they’re very much engaged with their imaging studies.” (1)
In the U.S., 82% of patients said that they had logged in to their provider’s patient portal at least once, according to a 2017 American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) survey. That’s a big jump from a similar AHIMA survey in 2013 that showed fewer than 5% of patients had access to their patient portal. (2)
Adoption of patient portals in the U.S. is expected to grow, fueled in part by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which created financial incentives to increase interoperability and patient engagement through the Meaningful Use program (now rebranded to “Promoting Interoperability”). (3)
Additionally, patients around the globe are becoming more mobile, often seeing providers from different networks. Portals give patients the ability to share their images easily with any healthcare provider of their choosing. They no longer have to request a CD with their images from their initial provider. Instead, patients can login to their portal and show other providers their images during their appointment, or share them by email.
Patients have positive perceptions of online portals – and their providers
Patients’ perceptions of online portals are consistently positive. The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association reports that “access to test results is an area of high interest to patients and among the many portal functionalities, (and) patients frequently cite it as most useful. Access to results provides an opportunity to foster patient involvement in care by preventing test results from being overlooked, a common patient safety concern. Further, portals that allow patients independent and unrestricted access may also help coordinate care among multiple physicians and avoid redundancy.” (4)
Those positive perceptions also can transfer to their healthcare provider. An independent study of 1,000 adults commissioned by Carestream and conducted by IDR Medical found that 79% of patients would be more likely to return to a facility that offers an online image portal, and 76% said they would recommend the facility to others. (5)
Dr. Randall A. Stenoien, owner and CEO at Houston Medical Imaging (HMI), is a pioneer in using patient portals that incorporate diagnostic images. He has spoken and written extensively about his experience with the CARESTREAM MyVue patient portal. Fifty percent of his patients use the image-sharing portal. Of those, 91 percent say it’s easy to use. And 88 percent of all users — patients and referring physicians — want to continue sharing images electronically. He emphasizes that “MyVue has engaged my patient population in a way I never would have imagined.” The solution also has bottom line benefits: driving nearly $15,000 in savings annually.
Interoperability improves the patient experience
Not all portals are created equal. Some portals only give patients access to written reports, such as lab results. Patients either have no access to their diagnostic images, or they have to login to a second system to access them. A patient-centric, interoperable solution improves the experience. It enables patients to access online appointment scheduling, lab results, and their radiographs – all with a single login. Very often Carestream’s MyVue patient portal is embedded in the provider’s general patient portal to allow a unified, seamless experience for the patient.
A patient-centric, interoperable solution improves the user experience.
Patients also have more confidence in security when they only have to login one time, rather than accessing multiple systems. With Carestream’s MyVue patient portal, images are accessed directly from our secure cloud or the provider’s secure server. The provider does not need to replicate the data.
Who is using patient portals?
Studies show that users of portals have similar demographics as patients who do not access the portals. In the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, those who accessed the portal were…
– 58.8 years vs 62.3 years
– had more frequently admitted to medical services
– had higher disease severity scores (.0.653 vs 0.456)
Carestream’s study found that all age groups from 18 to 71+ were rated as likely to use the portal. The same study showed that 90+% of patients with children would be likely to use the portal to access their children’s medical images, while 82.7% would use it to access their own medical images. (5)
Patient portals are here to stay
The clear benefits of patient satisfaction, patient education, and patient engagement make a strong case for increased adoption of portals.
What is your experience with patient portals? Have you seen an increase in patient engagement? Patient satisfaction? Clinician productivity? Please let us know!
Yael Pe’er is Carestream Health’s Global Product Line Manager for Enterprise Imaging. She holds a BSc and MBA, and has 12 years of experience in the healthcare IT industry.
Learn more about patient portals!
Download Carestream’s report on Patient Imaging Portal Attitudes Report
4) Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Patient perceptions of receiving test results via online portals: a mixed-methods study, Dec. 25, 2017.