Most Patients won’t use a patient portal!

But automated patient workflow will still save the day.

By now, most practices realize that a patient portal will do little to streamline practice-patient workflow and communication.

The Government Accountability Office interviewed patients who tried to access their own medical information online. Their chief complaint: Wasted time. (Link below)

Let’s take a moment and recap why this is – and why adding more features won’t change this reality.

Regardless of specialty, all practices have a mix of patients – ranging from frequent fliers to “see you in a year” to single incident drive-through. Further, of the patients with regular needs, only some are interested in interacting through a portal.

It’s all about mindshare – and routine

Think of yourself – after all, you are a patient too. Patients are inundated with portals from all the entities they interact with – utilities, banks, social media, shopping and medical – medical encompassing all the different doctors patients might see.

Each portal requires a registration process (and sometimes a manual process in the case of medical portals). Even if the patient gets past that, the hard part – ongoing usage – still has to happen. For patients, a single doctors’ office represents a very small part of their daily mindshare, and unless they have reason to interact on a frequent basis, going through a portal will become an obstacle more than a solution. Since most portals were designed by software vendors to universally meet Meaningful Use requirements, they are rigid and tedious rather than intuitive and helpful.

The easy solution – instead of, or in addition to a portal

Given the challenges to successful adoption of portals by patients, it is essential to offer patient engagement that will be successful without requiring a patient to use a portal.  If a patient wants to pay their bill, or request an appointment, the workflow must be effortless! Requiring a tedious login procedure is the first, most-likely place, for a patient to abandon their payment attempt.

The key is to offer a solution for everyone: a portal for those highly-engaged patients in your practice. And something easier for everyone else – an option that does not require a registration process. This mechanism is called Secure Forms Workflow.

Workflow for all patients, at every interaction point

PCG Secure Forms can be linked to your website. But even better, they can be links embedded within your pre- and post-visit patient communications (texting and email). Here are some things they facilitate:

  • Pre-Registration
  • Full New Patient Registration
  • Confirming Address and Contact info
  • Insurance Coverage Updates
  • Uploads of insurance cards and IDs
  • E-Signed releases
  • Completing History information
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Confirming/Updates to Medication lists
  • Secure Test Results Delivery
  • Registering secure payment methods
  • Statement Delivery
  • Paying balances with just a few clicks

Ask the minimum number of questions

Paper forms are one size fits all; there is no ability for paper to understand relevance or context.  Secure Forms, on the other hand, can be “intelligent” and highly customizable. Each form will request exactly what is needed from the individual patient, and nothing more. Validation rules, drop-down lists, required fields and branching based on responses can all be included. Different forms can be created for different situations. As an example, if an invalid eligibility response was received, a form could prompt: “Your insurance states that you are not currently covered – please upload a current copy of your insurance card.”

Best of all, these forms are extremely simple for patients to use, since each form is focused on just the relevant need for that patient, right now.

No Usernames or PINs

Secure Forms are just that – secure. They are able to use validation info that the patient knows (including birthdate), so no passwords or PINs need to be remembered. And the forms are logged and locked, giving them legal validity for e-signature purposes.

Unlike most portals, you can get started with Secure Forms quickly, and start seeing the benefits right away!


  • Patients do not use portals, and portals do little to streamline practice work-flow.  Portals generally throw up barriers to the very transactions they are supposed to support.
  • Secure Forms provide easy workflow accessibility and high usage rates for the majority of patients
  • A patient-focused practice needs multiple options, to streamline the workflow for all patients.

PCG Secure Forms are part of the PCG Total Patient Relationship Management Suite – the system that removes the barriers to smooth and successful practice/patient interaction.

If you would like to learn more about Secure Forms Workflow or our complete patient engagement product suite, Patient Communication Gateway (PCG) please visit us.

Read what the GAO found out when they asked patients about using a patient portal (from

PCG provides patient communication and engagement solutions at every step of the patient journey.