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Sara Heath



Patient portals are an online website that is connected to the EHR, centrally focused on patient access to health data. These tools give patients a look into various data points, including lab results, physician  notes, their health histories, discharge summaries, and immunizations.

While it is standard fare for patient portals to include much of that information, it should be noted that not all portals are created equal.

Some portals only allow patients to view demographic and medical history data, while others provide real-time lab results updates. The data available to the patient through the patient portal often depends upon the portal vendor, as well as the standards at the particular healthcare facility.

Patient portals go beyond providing patients with a window into which they can view their health data. Most portals include features such as direct secure messaging, online appointment scheduling, online bill payments, prescription refill requests, and sometimes even data update capabilities.

Just as was discussed above, not all portals will enable all features. While most portals include secure messaging features, they may not all include some other capabilities.


This technology is becoming increasingly popular throughout the healthcare industry. According to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), 64 percent of hospitals gave their patients access to view, download, and transmit their health data in 2014, and 51 percent had the ability to secure message with their patients.