Utility of a Patient Portal in Dentistry

Kiltesh Patel
May 26, 2016 | 2 min read

In this blog, I'm going to discuss the expected functions of a patient portal within dental patient's context, our experience, public data and my personal view. 

In a broader wisdom of patient engagement in care delivery and decision making process for a better outcome lies the need for a patient portal. In concept, it makes lots of intuitive sense but has it succeeded? What are the problems in context of medical and dental patients need? All this and more...

dental patient portalWithin Medical Care Process

The conceptual need of a patient portal is to provide a patient an access to their own medical records - a tactical tool to engage patient in a meaningful way. These records will include diagnosis, treatments, procedures, lab reports, medication, etc. on a single platform. The expectations were very high because such a tool will liberate the care delivery process and improve the outcomes.

However, the results of adoption are abysmal from the data published by health agencies. The usage of patient portal is not even 5% in medical care process even after the mandate and it had to be dropped. The reasons for such low adoptions are unclear at this point. The future of patient portal is unclear.


Within Dental Care Process

In the context of dental records, can we make similar arguments on the need? Probably, the answer is yes, but not strong enough.

Our experience with the dental patient portal is even worst (close to ZERO) than medical context. We tested the usage by simplifying the process of registration, login, etc. but the usage didn't improve.

Further, we spoke to a group of patients to find the answers. The results were quite shocking! The technology or the processes are not quite the cause but the fact that there is no incentive for a patient to use a dental portal is a major issue. Taxing of registration, login, password, etc. are not the deterrent "but what do I do with it".

To incentivize the usage, we added patient scheduling from the portal and bill payments but none was enough to convenience the use. The argument was that I can easily call dental office to schedule an appointment (because they need our repeat business), and bills are paid while in office (because why should I worry to login to pay). 

As of today, we are still in search of a better incentives for a patient to use the portal and our efforts continue...


For now, our effort to design the portal around incentives continue. We are determined to develop a portal which has high usage and not for the sake of having it! Please tune in to subscribe this blog for the newer cloud based technology solutions in dental market.

tab32 is a cutting edge technology provider in the cloud dental market. It is the only technology platform which provides highly integrated full-fledged patient engagement, relationship and communication systems for the dentist and dental practices within the EHR. Try it for free...

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