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Preventable illnesses like flu and pneumonia are very costly—causing unneeded health care expenses, lost work and school days, and poor productivity. Chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are even more costly, with more than half of American adults experiencing at least one chronic condition. 

Preventive care—such as assessing lifestyle risks, immunizations and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and depression—can potentially reduce the frequency of preventable illnesses and delay or avoid the onset of chronic conditions. But only 8% of American adults 35 and older receive all of these recommended preventive services. 

There’s growing and convincing evidence that those who use online patient portals are more likely to get their flu shots, screening exams, and other preventive services compared to those who don’t. 

What keeps millions of Americans from getting preventive care? 

Consider that the annual cost of the flu and three vaccine-preventable diseases—pneumococcal disease (i.e., invasive disease and pneumonia), herpes zoster (i.e., shingles), and pertussis—alone is a staggering $26.5 billion. So, what keeps patients from getting relatively inexpensive preventive care services to avoid contracting these illnesses? Reasons may include lack of awareness, not having insurance coverage, limited access to good care, or poor continuity of care necessary to be sure patients are up-to-date. 

Online portals show promise in improving patients’ behaviors 

Knowing which patients need which preventive services is the key to avoiding preventable illness and staying ahead of chronic disease. Smart healthcare technology is proving to be a valuable asset in this early-intervention strategy. 

When patients use online patient portals that provide real-time information about best preventive care and easy access to these services, they’re 50% more likely to get a flu shot and twice as likely to get their blood pressure checked. They’re also 50% more likely to have their cholesterol levels checked. 

The benefits of patient portals include improving patient engagement, driving greater compliance with preventive care, and enhancing health outcomes—especially for those with chronic conditions. Health care organizations can do this by: 

  • Educating them about preventive health and the value of reducing lifestyle risks. 
  • Reminding patients when it’s time for screenings, such as mammograms or colonoscopies
  • Teaching patients to recognize the early signs of preventable illness and chronic conditions and to seek timely care 
  • Helping patients track their compliance with best practice prevention 

Ignite on FHIR will spark your patient portal to deliver better preventive care 

WebMD Ignite combines behavior change science, lifestyle risk management, and the latest health technologies to deliver patient education that empowers patients to take an active role in their own health. By doing so, these patients not only better manage their conditions but are more successful reducing lifestyle risks and preventing illnesses. 

Utilizing our innovative application Ignite on FHIR® to provide this patient education, providers can continue to educate patients beyond the exam room on the importance of preventive care. It provides the right evidence-based patient education at the right time, via the patient portal, to encourage screenings and other preventive care. 

It also provides follow-up messaging after the patient visit to support healthier lifestyle choices, more satisfied loyal customers, and stronger provider/patient relationships—for better health outcomes, and lower costs.