Should providers charge patients for portal access?

Marisa Torrieri discusses in HealcareDIVE with Stephen Armstrong if asking patients to pay for portal use turn them off, or if it does make sense for them to share in the cost burden?

The portal charge represents an incremental and recurring revenue stream for the practice in an era of challenging financial pressures like rising operating expenses and decreasing reimbursement,

said Stephen Armstrong, senior vice president for Hello Health, in an e-mail to Healthcare Dive.

Hello Health has gotten a lot of attention for its business model, which is centered on providing medical practices with a portal as part of its integrated health platform in exchange for a $69-per-patient ($99 per family) annual fee (practices get 25% of the fee).

Should a patient pay for a portal? It comes down to the value that the portal offers the patient and that value is in large part driven by the joint participation of the practice and the patient to adopt it as a primary means of communication together,

Armstrong said.

Scheduling appointments online, sending and receiving secure messages, receiving summaries of a visit and lab results, maintaining a personal health record with data shared by the doctor, receiving targeted educational content, keeping your doctor aware of your health life between visits, having a video consultation—these are some of the ways value is generated for the convenience of the patient and their wellness.

Such is the case at Ottenheimer Health, a New York, NY-based private practice that uses Hello Health’s portal and gives patients unlimited e-mail access to physicians and lots of other perks—but only for that $69 a year. However, to sweeten the deal, physician Deborah Ottenheimer, who runs the practice, offers a 30-day free trial.

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About the Author
Stephen Armstrong

Stephen Armstrong is senior vice president for Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement.