7 Ways Physicians Can Save Money Using the Patient Portal

Sandra Levy

Disclosures

May 01, 2018

In This Article

A Customized Patient Portal

James Ryan, DO, a solo practitioner in Ludington, Michigan, developed a $30,000 customized EHR system because he was dissatisfied with the choice of existing systems.

"I couldn't cope with other systems effectively," he recalls. "They weren't good for us. The intention in Meaningful Use and the national direction for adding portals is a good goal, but how it's been implemented with the technology definitely hasn't matured."

Pointing out that it's easier for his small independent clinic to do something different and novel, Ryan said, "Our system is a portal, and it's a logical conclusion of what a portal should be. We really want to get rid of the separation between the patient and doctor."

Ryan's patients have access to everything that he does in the portal. They can add notes inside a place that's designated for "problems," and they can add comments to any orders that are pending, such as labs referrals. Patients can also give access to the portal to their family members.

Audio Recordings via the Portal

Three years ago, Ryan began offering audio recordings to his patients over age 50 years and to those with complex conditions. The recordings are annotated so that patients can easily call up relevant audio about specific topics they discussed with Ryan.

"It's a practical tool," he says. "It's not just an audio recording; it's for organizing all of the problems. If you have a patient with 10 or 15 problems, it can be very overwhelming keeping all the minutia organized and making sure you're not missing things. The audio recording acts as a much more objective recording of what actually happened during the encounter. We make it available for the patient and the clinical team."

He has since expanded this service to offer recordings to patients over age 18 years, as well as to some younger children, depending on their needs. Of 1000 patients in the system, 20% are logging on to the patient portal to listen to recordings.

When Ryan's patients have an appointment, all of the actions that happen in the system become time stamped. "If we’re talking about knee pain, and I access a problem called 'knee pain,' 10 seconds into the encounter that creates a time stamp. If we have an x-ray for the knee, that becomes its own time stamp that gets connected to the audio recording, and the two together become the document, so I don't have to chart afterwards unless I find that there's some clinical value in organizing their current condition," says Ryan.

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