What is a Patient Portal and how can it help me?


January 14, 2023
Reading Time: 2 minutes

What is a patient portal?

A patient portal is a secure website which gives patients and their families access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using a secure username and password, patients can view health information such as recent and upcoming appointments, discharge summaries, current prescriptions, lab results, immunizations, and more. 

Patient portals have been shown to: 

  • increase patient satisfaction
  • promote adherence to preventative and treatment recommendations
  • improve clinical outcomes in the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and depression

Many patient portals allow you to:

  • Securely message your doctor
  • Review your lab results and doctor’s notes. 
  • Request prescription refills
  • Schedule non-urgent appointments
  • Check benefits and coverage
  • Update contact information
  • Make payments
  • Download and complete forms
  • View educational materials

Patient Portal Features

Why Is Using a Patient Portal Important?

Accessing your personal medical records through a patient portal can help you be more actively involved in your own health care. Accessing your family members’ health information can help you take care of them more easily. Also, patient portals offer self-service options that can eliminate phone tag with your doctor and sometimes even save a trip to the doctor’s office.

How Do I Get Access to a Patient Portal?

Ask your health care providers. If they offer a patient portal, they will provide you with instructions for setting it up. There may be a couple of steps involved in setting up your account, including creating a secure password. This is to make sure only you have access to your health information. Once your account is set up, you’ll be ready to conveniently access your health information and medical records.

Your Health Information Is Private, Secure, and Protected

Patient portals have privacy and security safeguards in place to protect your health information.

  • To make sure that your private health information is safe from unauthorized access, patient portals are hosted on a secure connection and accessed via an encrypted, password-protected logon.
  • EHRs also have an “audit trail” feature that keeps a record of who accessed your information, what changes were made, and when.
  • Although patient portals use safeguards, there are other safety tips you should follow when accessing the patient portal. Always remember to protect your username and password from others and make sure to only log on to the patient portal from a personal or secure computer.
Fact Sheet – Patient Portals

Sources: Medlineplus.gov; HealthIT.gov

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