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How to Use Your Patient Portal (Part 1)

Part 1 of 2

A patient portal can be thought of as a gateway or door to information and data found within the physician’s portal. Providers grant patients access with a secure username and password to information in a secure website.

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For offices and providers that are capturing Meaningful Use data, the patient portal will assist them in the following areas:

  • Timely electronic access to changes in health information (Menu Set)
  • Patient-specific education resources (Menu Set)
  • Electronic copies of their health record (Core Set)
  • Clinical summaries after each office visit (Core Set)

Patient portals not only provide an easy way for patients to access their primary care physicians for non-urgent care or follow-up treatment, but they also provide the following features:

  • Send and receive messages to and from a doctor’s office, i.e., faxed medication requests to pharmacies
  • Request new appointments, prescription refills, and lab reports (Note: California law requires that an appropriate exam be conducted prior to providing medications to a new patient.)
  • Examine current and past medical statements
  • Enter or modify personal information and other demographic information
  • Receive emails for reminders, upcoming appointments and statements

When viewing their data, patients are able to identify any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in their health record and then act by informing the provider and sharing that information at the next visit. Although patients are not able to manually edit information in the portal, the data enables physicians to work with more complete and accurate data, thereby increasing the quality of care they provide.


This information should not be considered legal advice applicable to a specific situation. Legal guidance for individual matters should be obtained from a retained attorney.