While 49 percent of patients know their doctor's office offers a patient portal, 40 percent were not aware of a patient portal offering and 11 percent of patients know their doctor doesn't offer one, according to a survey of 430 patients from research firm TechnologyAdvice.
The research firm suggests that the number of patients who are not sure whether their physician's office offers a patient portal is high because physicians are not properly communicating what tools are offered.
Even if patients know about the patient portal, physicians are still not following up with them through it, the survey explains. About 48 percent of physicians are not following up with patients at all, 23.5 percent call patients to follow up, and 12.8 percent send a letter. Just 9.1 percent use the patient portal and another 6 percent contact patients via email.
Similarly, even when patients were aware of online communication methods, they still tended to prefer to hear from their doctor on the phone
When asked how they wanted a physician to contact them, a majority, 42.9 percent, chose over the phone. The next largest group, 25 percent, chose email, almost 14 percent chose online, 13 percent wanted to receive a letter, and 5.4 percent didn't want their physician to follow up with them.
Patients responded similarly when asked how they wanted to receive lab results. The majority, 42.7 percent, preferred to receive them over the phone, 18.7 percent preferred email, 14 percent preferred online, just under 13 percent preferred email, and 11.9 wanted to wait until their next appointment.
The study also finds that younger patients, aged 18 to 25, prefer scheduling appointments online. Over 60 percent of patients in that age group preferred scheduling appointment online to using the phone.
On the other hand, all age groups 45 and up preferred making appointments over the phone to online. The 25-34 and 35-44 age groups were about even in preferring scheduling appointments online and over the phone. In total, around 50 percent of all age groups preferred schedule appointments over the phone.