One of the great promises of real time communications – Web-based standards and tools that allow people to communicate across browsers without needing to download anything – is telemedicine. Millions of Americans live in rural areas with limited to access to healthcare (and even less access to specialists). For some individuals (think: people who don’t drive, who are elderly and have no ride, or who are uninsured), healthcare portals that offer a basic evaluation by a provider over a browser can be of enormous benefit.
Americans seem to think so, too, and both service providers and patients are using these portals. According to a recent study commissioned by eClinicalWorks and conducted online by Harris Poll, 84 percent of people say their doctor’s offices have a patient portal. Of those whose doctors do have a patient portal, adults over 55 are more likely to access their health information via this tool than adults aged 18 to 54 (61 percent versus 45 percent).
Patient portals may include live real-time evaluations via video between care providers and patients. They can also offer prescription refill requests, test results, self-reporting of home testing (blood sugar, for example, or pain levels) and even a way to transmit the data from wearable medical devices from patients to healthcare providers.