Recently, a study was conducted at the University of Texas to analyze and explore how Doctors’ online portals can affect the health outcomes of an individual person. This study was the first large-scale study on the topic and reported that patients with chronic illness using the system were less likely to be hospitalized, require emergency treatment, or readmitted to the hospital. They have also had shorter stays in the hospital.

They collaborated with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to research patient portal logs over a 12-year period for 3,266 patients with congestive heart failure, recognizing which portal functionalities the patients used, and how much time they spent engaging with them. On average, those who used the portals effectively were 2 to 4 percent less likely to be hospitalized, which translates into thousands of patients even for a medium-sized hospital—and a significant saving for the system at $30,000 per patient. Researchers have found that people associated with the platform were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency department, and those hospitalized had shorter stays of about 11%. Notably, readmission rates — meaning that a patient is hospitalized more than once in a period of 30 days — were about 2 percent lower among patient portal users.

People who use Doctors’ Online Portals to engage with health care providers spend less time in the hospital, reducing medical costs. Also, patients can request medication refills through portals, view laboratory results, and X-rays, track and update medical history, and securely e-mail doctors.

Hospitals and insurance companies are interested in getting patients on board, and mobile technology may be key, particularly in the light of the current pandemic.  Healthcare providers have already started providing free health-tracking accessories to patients as an incentive to keep in touch with their health team, improve coordination of care, and drive change. It is evident that if patients are able to communicate more efficiently with their health care providers, it helps to build changes in lifestyle that contribute to improved health outcomes.