Patient portals nurture engagement efforts

Online health portals can enhance patient retention endeavors.

Open and frequent communication is vital for healthcare providers to retain patients. One way doctor's offices, clinics and other organizations can reach individuals on a regular basis is to implement patient-portal technology. As a communications tool, these portals allow patients to connect with their doctors using a Web-based messaging system.

Health IT indicated that portals help provide individuals with information about medications, immunizations, allergies and lab results, among other relevant topics. Some systems allow patients to make payments, view educational materials and update their contact information. The technology can enhance the quality of care given and strengthen the preventive measures physicians and specialists prescribe. 

Patient portals are growing significantly in the healthcare marketplace 
Using these online communication platforms is becoming a popular engagement strategy in the healthcare field. In fact, 40 percent of physicians in ambulatory practice and 50 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have patient portal systems, according to Frost & Sullivan, a research organization.

The adoption of this kind of communication platform will grow in the next couple years. Frost & Sullivan projected the patient portal market for hospital and physicians will rise, reaching $898.4 million in 2014. This is a 222.1-percent increase from 2012, when the market reached $279.8 million in revenue. 

Greater transparency into health records is becoming a priority
Part of the growth in patient portal use is attributed to increasing patient demand for information technology in the healthcare field. People want to view electronic copies of their medical records. Patients are also becoming more involved in their healthcare and treatment options. With information at hand and 24/7 access to their health-related data, people can make informed, immediate changes to their lifestyles. 

Providers maintain a competitive edge in the transforming healthcare field
Healthcare clinics that adopt this technology can gain a competitive edge in the healthcare marketplace, as it can help boost patient retention numbers. Frequent and clear communication fosters a strong doctor-patient relationship, which builds people's trust in their healthcare provider. A solid connection can keep patients coming back to the same doctor instead of seeking future treatment elsewhere. 

Healthcare professionals can inform patients how to use the system
Health IT suggested marketers in the healthcare field distribute fliers about the portal before, during or after appointments, post related educational material in their facilities and ask administrative staff to encourage patients to register and use the system. 

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