By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
A “Portal Patient” May Be a Healthier Patient
Some people date online, shop online, game online and do many other things online. It’s just the world we live in, especially now that people are still practicing social distancing due to COVID-19.
Many people even help manage their health online through their doctor’s online patient portals. Through these portals, patients can usually ask for medication refills, look at lab test results and x-rays, monitor and make updates to their medical history and safely email their doctors.
And according to a recent study, “portal patients” appear to be more capable of maintaining their health.
“In the first large-scale, longitudinal analysis to explore how use of patient portals affects individual health outcomes, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin found that patients with chronic disease who used the technology were less likely to be hospitalized, need emergency care or be readmitted. They also had shorter hospital stays,” according to one report discussing the study.
The researchers of the study analyzed the patient portal logs for 3,266 patients with congestive heart failure over a 12-year period.
(Congestive heart failure, usually called just heart failure, affects around 6.5 million adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
From the patient portal logs the researchers examined, they took special note of what portal features the patients used and how much time they spent with these features.
“On average, those who effectively used the portals were 2% to 4% less likely to be hospitalized, which translates to thousands of patients for even a medium-sized hospital—and at $30,000 per patient, a significant savings for the system,” according to the study report.
This is a win on both sides. Obviously, nobody wants to spend time in the hospital. And it’s always great when the healthcare system can save money through having less sick people that need to stay in the hospital.
Furthermore, “The researchers also found that those engaging with the portal were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency room, and those who were hospitalized had shorter stays, by about 11%.”
And perhaps the biggest and most significant finding of all was that readmission rates were lower among patients who used the online portals. A patient falls into the “readmission” category if this patient has to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of the first time they were admitted to the hospital. Readmission rates were about two percent lower among online portal users.
It looks like online healthcare is here to stay, especially during this current pandemic. This, of course, does not mean that you never need to see your doctor in person or that you should avoid going to the emergency room if you are seriously ill or injured. The point is that patients can be proactive and better their health by being more engaged with their doctors, lab work and medical history online.
It is important to acknowledge that one study found evidence which showed that half of older adults (65 and older) do not use online patient portals. If you are a boomer, I strongly suggest taking advantage of those online portals. It’s likely that you are great with smartphones and other technological devices, so there’s no reason why you cannot be engaged online regarding your health.
What I love about these online patient portals is that it gives people the opportunity to be proactive about their health. And being proactive about your health is what the pH Labs team stands for, because prevention is always better than cure.
Check out these six “doctors” who can really help you be more proactive about your health.
Finally, don't forget to maintain nutritional balance and avoid any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Taking routine nutrient tests is the one way to assess if you are nutritionally balanced. If the test reveals that you are not, a competent healthcare professionals can work with you on making changes to your diet and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.