Patient Portal Impact by Barbara Duck


It takes more than putting a portal out there.   This model, as described in the study below, needs some rethinking as people don’t work the way algorithms do.  We need to work on “patient” engagement rather than “algorithm” engagement.

A recent Mayo Clinic study reveals secure messages and electronic visits (‘‘e-visits’’) through patient portals had no significant impact on adult primary care face to face visits, iHealthBeat reports. The study found that patients sending the most messages had higher numbers of face to face visit both before and after implementation of messaging; however, the frequency of their visits did not change.The study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health examined 2,357 primary care patients who used electronic messaging (both secure messages and e-visits) on a patient portal. The cohort comprised all adult primary care patient portal users in Rochester, MN. who also had at least one primary care office visit within the study time interval. Face-to-face appointment frequencies (visits/year) of each patient were calculated before and after the first message in a matched-pairs analysis. The study was approved by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board.

Of course there will be more studies done here but this is good to see a model tested and what came out of it.  It’s going to take a while longer before we ease into more portal communications for sure according to what we read here.  People are not ready for all of this yet and speaking for myself I still like to see my doctor face to face.

Portals are good for follow up information and reading about diseases, drugs, etc. for sure with having it in one place to reference, no arguments there.  So all those folks who are doing these massive studies on billions going to be saved might want to hold off for a while or move their numbers ahead into the future a bit.   You really do have to watch what you read today too as we have a lot of “quantitated justification” news stories and reports that pop up.  So be aware…and time for more studies…not every model works as designed.

Barbara Duck blogs regularly at

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  1 comment for “Patient Portal Impact by Barbara Duck

  1. R Watkins
    March 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Love it: require physicians to pay for patient portals, and then start doing studies to see if there’s any benefit from using them.

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