Why should we charge patients to use our Patient Portal?

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Steven Ferguson talks with Physician Practices about getting patients to use patient portals.

The idea of paying to use a portal doesn’t always make sense for younger, healthier patients in their 20s and 30s, said Steven Ferguson, patient management officer at Hello Health, a company that offers a free EHR and patient portal to physicians through a revenue-sharing model: Patients each pay a fee of $36 or more annually for portal access, and that money is split between Hello Health and the provider.

But for certain patient populations — such as older patients, who have greater need to access the doctor more frequently to e-mail questions or use telehealth services — charging a nominal fee for portal access makes sense. There’s one caveat to that, however. The portal has to be worth the charge.

“It depends on what the portal is, and how it’s positioned,” Ferguson told Physicians Practice. “Patients have to know that practices are offering an extended service to them. It does serve a need for a lot of the patients. If you have the right business model around that and the right price point it can work.”

Ferguson has a point. A fee of $36-$50, or just a few dollars per month, really is a nominal fee for patients who want secure online access to their primary-care physician, lab results, and an appointment calendar. And for even more valuable services such as e-visits — a term that’s loosely synonymous with episodes of care conducted through secure messaging between physicians and patients — patients will be willing to pay a small fee.

Read the entire article Should You Charge Patients to Use Your Patient Portal? on Physician Practices.

About the Author

Steven Ferguson is the patient management officer at Hello Health, the revenue generating EMR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement and electronic medical revenue.

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