Hospitals and clinics streamline their services and cut down (sometimes dramatically) on overhead expenses by instituting online patient portals that patients and their caregivers can use to perform a variety of routine activities related to the delivery of healthcare.

Here are the best ways that patients and healthcare providers can make use of online patient portals.

Making Appointments


In the pre-internet days, scheduling ate up an enormous chunk of administrators’ time and energy – resources that could be used to improve the patient experience and make the workplace more enjoyable for both patients and providers.

Well-designed patient portals allow patients and their families to schedule appointments online without the need for a healthcare worker on the other end. Rescheduling can also be performed via these online means.

Refilling Prescriptions


Often, patients require prescription refills that don’t necessarily require them to come in for an appointment or talk to a nurse. If the patient has all the necessary instructions and knows how to self-administer their medications, automated online refills can replace the manual dispersal of prescriptions.

Ask Healthcare-Related Questions Through Secure Email


An efficient online portal that complies with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy protections allows patients to ask questions related to their healthcare for a nurse or doctor. This format enables the provider to better manage their time, getting to questions at convenient intervals rather than juggling phone calls or in-person visits.

Requesting Referrals


One of the primary roles of a primary doctor is to supply referrals to specialized as necessary – for example, to cardiologists or neurologists. This is because the American medical system is set up in such a way that requires these family doctors (‘primary care” providers) to act as the gatekeepers to specialists. Unfortunately, while this has the benefit of maximizing efficiency in one respect by directing patients to the appropriate provider best suited to resolve their issues, it can also eat up a significant amount of resources on the part of the primary doctor.

Online referral requests facilitate the smooth process of directing patients to specialists without consuming too much time from the doctor.


These are just a handful of the ways that online patient portals enhance the patient’s experience while simultaneously streamlining the delivery of healthcare on the service provider’s end – a true win-win scenario for both patients and doctors (and much-needed in these stressful times).