73789 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Using Patient Portals

    Image for online medical consulting A growing number of patients are turning to the Web to access healthcare information. In response to this demand, more and more physicians and hospitals are using "patient portals" as gateways for patients to find information.
    Patients can also communicate with their physicians and access services using patient portals. Here is some information to help you understand how.

    What Are Patient Portals?

    A patient portal is a website you can use to securely interact with your doctor's office to perform some of the routine, health-related tasks that you would normally conduct at the office or by phone.

    When Do You Use Patient Portals?

    Most patient portals allow you to conduct the following tasks:
    • Update your doctor about your condition or medications
    • Clarify advice given to you during an office visit
    • Ask general health questions that do not require a routine examination
    • Request appointments, prescriptions, and referrals
    • Obtain reliable health and disease information
    • View and pay bills
    If you choose to communicate with your doctor using a patient portal, you should keep your messages to your doctor clear and concise. Take the time to organize your thoughts. Remember that the message you send will become part of your medical record.

    When Not to Use Patient Portals

    If you have a new medical problem that needs to be diagnosed, you can use the patient portal to make an appointment for an office visit. That way, your doctor can conduct a physical exam and ask additional questions.
    You should also never use a patient portal if you have a medical emergency and need a quick answer. Difficulty breathing, bleeding, or severe abdominal pain all require immediate, personal medical attention.


    Well-educated, web-savvy people seem to be the most comfortable with patient portals. But, they are not the only ones. Communicating with a doctor's office online may solve transportation problems for older adults or people who cannot drive.
    An increasing number of physicians and hospitals are using patient portals to communicate. If you'd like added healthcare convenience, then a practice that has a patient portal may be right for you.


    American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org/

    National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/


    The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca


    Adler KG. Web portals in primary care: an evaluation of patient readiness and willingness to pay for online services. J Med Internet Res. 2006 Oct 26;8(4):e26.

    The use of electronic mail. American Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion5026.page . Published June 2003. Accessed September 17, 2012.

    Online patient-provider communication tools: an overview (November 2003). California HealthCare Foundation website. Available at: http://www.chcf.org/topics/view.cfm?itemid=21600 . Accessed September 17, 2012.

    Umefjord G, Sandström H, Malker H, Petersson G. Medical text-based consultations on the Internet: a 4-year study. Int J Med Inform . 2008 Feb;77(2):114-21. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.