7 Ways Physicians Can Save Money Using the Patient Portal

Sandra Levy

Disclosures

May 01, 2018

In This Article

A Convenience for Clinicians and Patients Alike

Patient portals have become increasingly popular; physicians who use them say that they save time and money and help them collect payment faster. Yet plenty of physicians are still unenthusiastic about them. Can they be worthwhile for you—or, if you already have a patient portal, can you make it even more useful?

Many physicians say that a patient portal increases their practice's efficiency because patients use the portal to fill out and update personal health information forms, schedule their own appointments, access test results, request medication refills, send secure messages, receive chronic care alerts, and pay bills.

Twenty percent of practices still don't have a portal, according to the Medscape Practice Workflow Report 2017: Physicians' Bottlenecks, Challenges, and Time, which surveyed over 1150 physicians. But even among practices that do have a portal, some 69% report that no more than 25% of patients are using them.

"We've seen a family physician save a half of a full-time equivalent by using the patient portal," says Kathy Moghadas, RN, a healthcare consultant based in Winter Springs, Florida. "Where you have multiple doctors, your cost savings becomes exponential."

Savings Add Up

Mark McNeill, MD, of Trillium Family Medicine in Asheville, North Carolina, estimates that he has saved $45,000 to $50,000 annually, using what he describes as a "low overhead portal model," since he opened his practice in September 2012. The patient portal, which is integrated within his electronic health record (EHR) system, reduces the need for an additional medical assistant to answer patients' phone calls and attend to tasks such as mailing lab reports.

Because patients can view their lab reports on the portal, McNeill saves about $800 a year on postage. "We send out about 1600 lab results a year; that's 1600 letters that we don't have to mail out," he says.

McNeill also adds to his revenue by charging $35 for online consults via the portal. While he currently conducts only a few of these consults each month, he expects the number to grow.

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