7 Ways Physicians Can Save Money Using the Patient Portal

Sandra Levy

Disclosures

May 01, 2018

In This Article

You Don't Have to Mail Statements

Azalea Health offers practices an app compatible with Android devices and iPhones so that patients can pay their bills directly from their phone. "It saves the practice money mailing patient statements, which on average run 75 cents each," Berkeley says.

Moghadas says that practices offering patients automatic debit payment plans through the portal save from $1.89 to $2.50 per billing statement.

Some doctors offer discounts to patients to encourage them to use automated debit plans. "You don’t have to pay someone to chase the money," says Moghadas. "Physicians typically have to send four statements before they get that money in, and then they have to assign someone to make a phone call after that. By the time you've sent out $20 worth of statements and have someone make the calls, you're losing revenue."

McNeill says that his patients asked him to provide the ability to make online payments. "They were happy when I started to offer it," he recalls. His billing service, Current Medical Services, receives about 30 payments per month via the portal.

"If patients were to call instead, we would spend 5 to 15 minutes on each of those calls; or if they were to mail a payment, it would add an additional 3 to 7 days to the cycle," says Frost Walker, vice president of operations for Current Medical Services.

No-Shows Are Costly

4. Reduce the Number of No-Shows

Some physicians are unaware that portals are useful in encouraging patients to make follow-up appointments.

Automated patient reminders reduce no-shows by about 34%, according to a study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Center for Family and Community Medicine, Columbia University School of Nursing.[4]

The costs of no-shows can have a huge negative impact on a practice's bottom line. Patients who don't show for appointments cost the healthcare system around $150 billion annually. If the average practice treats 24 patients a day, and an average no-show rate is 18%, at a cost of $112 per missed appointment, a practice could lose as much as $120,000 annually.[5]

Mary Reed, a research scientist for Kaiser Permanente's Northern California division, examined the impact of diabetes patients' use of Kaiser's My Health Manager, an online portal that allows patients to view their health records, manage prescriptions, schedule appointments, and contact their physicians.

Reed found that nearly 50% of diabetes patients viewed their cholesterol levels within 1 week of the test results being posted. Viewing results on the portal is associated with following up with a physician, according to Kaiser Permanente.[6]

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