Patient Portal FAQs from the Experts
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2021

Patient Portal FAQs from the Experts

Patient portals can provide easy access to your medical information. For many, they can also be a little confusing. We spoke to experts Wendy Andrews and Melissa Frechette for the answers to the most common questions.

Do I have access to a patient portal?
If you have ever had blood drawn; an X-Ray, mammogram, or imaging test; a procedure or colonoscopy; a sleep study; an infusion or dialysis; an Emergency visit, or an inpatient stay at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, you have a Hospital Patient Portal. If you are a patient of any of SVMC’s primary or specialty practices, you have a second portal, the Practices Patient Portal, for the care you receive in your doctors’ offices.

Why two?
The hospital and practices use two different electronic medical record systems. Each was chosen long ago for strengths related to the particular area they serve. On August 2, 2021, we migrated from a few different systems in the practice setting to one new system that covers all practices. Doing so will help us serve patients better. A move to a singular electronic medical record is a costly and time-consuming process that is planned for the future.

What can the portals do or provide?
The Practices Portal provides test results that are reported to your primary care office. It also includes notes about your visits and the ability to message your provider. The Hospital Portal provides current and past lab results, reports from recent imaging tests, discharge instructions, Emergency Department reports, operative notes, and more.

Why would I want to have access to a portal?
Some people get anxious while waiting for lab results. The portal provides them as soon as they are available. You don’t have to wait for a call from your providers’ office. Often, people forget what they are told about their condition, treatment, and ongoing needs when they are discharged. The portal allows you to access this information and print or e-mail it to those who need it. The systems also show upcoming appointments, so they are great for looking up an appointment you may have forgotten. In addition, the Practices Portal provides the quickest and easiest way to send a secure message to your provider.

How do I sign up for the portals?
For the Practices Portal, there are three ways to sign up. (1) Provide your e-mail address to the office staff during registration for your next appointment. They will send you an e-mail that will prompt you to sign up for the new practices portal. (2) Call the office and ask them to send you the portal registration link. (3) Visit and use the “Sign up” link in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, after “Don’t have an account?”

For the Hospital Portal, (1) you can visit and use the “sign up” button at the bottom of the page. If you think you may have an account already, you can use the “forgot Logon ID” and “Forgot Password” links to recover your logon details.

For both systems, follow the instructions. The system requires users match passwords exactly, for instance, so be careful when you set them or enter confirmation codes. If you are unfamiliar with technology, it can be useful to have someone with more experience help you. In addition, if you are not a patient of an SVMC practice or have not received care at SVMC, you will not be allowed to sign up.

Why can’t I see information from past visits in the new Practices Portal?
When we switched systems on August 2, 2021, every patient got a clean slate. Information from past visits is still available on the
old Practices patient portal.

Why can’t I message my provider from the new Practices Portal?
The messaging function is enabled only once you have had an appointment with your provider.

I am hitting a roadblock registering or accessing my account. What should I do?
No matter what your problem is or which portal you are attempting to access, there is lots of help available. For either portal, you can call 802-447-5687. Option 1 will take you to support for the Hospital Portal. Option 2 will take you to help for the Practices Portal. Friendly professionals on both lines are ready to take you step-by-step through the process. You can also e-mail for help with the Hospital Portal or for help with the Practices Portal.

I don’t want a portal account. What other ways can I get the same information?
Especially if you don’t use hospital or practice services very often and if you don’t mind waiting a short while for laboratory or imaging results, you may be happy without access to your medical records. If you need access or results, you can always reach out to the
Release of Information office, which is located in the Medical Records Department. 


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