Patient Portals: An Example

Dentists looking to minimize paperwork duplication and paper forms in the office are likely to seek out patient portals. A HIPAA-compliant portal can reduce errors, provide more comprehensive patient data (since patients can fill them out on their own time, with past records, at home) and increase patient communication. According to one study, 97% of dental patients would rather click on a website than call a dental practice (Friedman & Williams, 2013). Almost 80% of patients preferred text or email reminders to a phone call (Friedman & Williams, 2013).

This is taking place in an environment of increased HIPAA and federal compliance. For meaningful use compliance, Stage 2 requires patient portals (see our article on that here). Hospitals and physician practices have struggled with finding patient portals that integrate well with electronic health records (i.e., Terry, 2013.) However, in dentistry, patient portals are less well established, and thus also more innovative and likely to change. Knowledgeable dentists who ask well-researched questions about patient portals are likely to become super-users who can help drive the development of features and tools in patient portals.

The video below discusses the basics of a patient portal, as well as the approval process that the dental practice goes through to integrate data with the practice records. This video is an interview Mike Uretz conducts with a Planet DDS representative, to go over and discuss their patient portal and demonstrate its look-and-feel.

Dental practices looking to incorporate patient portals can benefit from such demonstrations, as well as asking questions about data integration from the portal to the practice. An approval process is necessary to correct and update information before it becomes live clinical data.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • Patient portals are increasingly being adopted to reduce paperwork and improve patient appointments.
  • Meaningful use stage 2 requires patient portals.
  • Integration of data from the patient portal to the clinical record is a key consideration for dentists.

 

References:

Terry, Ken. (2013) Patient Portals Bloom Under Meaningful UseInformation Week, Sept. 25. Last Accessed 11/13/2013: http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/policy/patient-portals-bloom-under-meaningful-u/240161780

Friedman, Diana & Williams, Tim. (2013) Study reveals how automated patient appointment reminders affect dental no-show rates and productionDental Tribune, Jun 19. Last Accessed 11/15/2013: http://www.dental-tribune.com/articles/specialities/practice_management/13603_study_reveals_how_automated_patient_appointment_reminders_affect_dental_practice_no-show_rates_and_production.html