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What is a Patient Portal

What-is-a-patient-portal

In healthcare organizations of all sizes and specialties, the use of patient portals has been steadily increasing as it becomes more popular after the introduction of electronic medical records (EMR software) and electronic health records (EHR software).

If you aren’t sure what the difference between EMR and EHR is, you can learn more in our article here.

Portals allow physicians and patients to communicate better while also enhancing the quality of care for patients.

Patients have more control over their treatment with the help of patient portals, which improve doctor-patient relationships.

Lab results, prescription refills, insurance information, and other similar things can be checked and managed by customers using the online patient portal.

We’ll explore what a patient portal is and how it can benefit your health organization as it relates to this article.

patient-portals

Background

Patient portals were designed to give patients and healthcare providers a better way to communicate.

Additionally, they ensure that patients can get in touch with their healthcare whenever they need it; meaningful use requires providers to create tools for patients.

Patients, and thus patients’ families, are usually left in the dark concerning healthcare decisions.

Still, patient portals will increase involvement because the patients will have direct access to their healthcare records.

A standalone system and an integrated service are both main types of patient portals.

Integrated patient portal functionality (like sending emails, handling messages, online appointment scheduling, etc.) is usually included with EMR, EHR, or practice management software.

Even though they’re pretty simple at the core, they’re still essentially web-based applications.

It is primarily for patients to access their test results, get a response to a question, or update their health insurance or profile.

Patients can make appointments and pay bills online with a few portals as well.

They can help healthcare providers improve patient engagement, increase loyalty, control costs, and make their workflows more efficient.

Benefits of Patient Portals

benefits of patient portals

Your patient portal will provide your patients with secure online access to their medical information and improve their engagement with your practice regardless of the type of platform you select.

Not only does it offer many benefits for healthcare providers, but it does so while also offering several other advantages.

Benefits include the following:

Fast Expansion

There has been a clear shift in the medical industry from providers being providers to providers being caregivers.

More and more healthcare providers have introduced their patient portals as a result.

Thanks to an increased number of health organizations providing access, people with medical conditions can now more easily access their medical records.

And this means more people are finding these services and choosing to participate.

One of the primary initiatives from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is implementing secure electronic medical records.

The National Health Information Network (NHIN) also has an identical goal, and so one of its reports revealed that over 90% of hospitals allow patients to access their medical records.

72% of organizations give patients full view, download, and transmit capabilities.

As previously mentioned, only a quarter of the total number of people frequent the medical facilities, with less than 25% of the people adopting them.

In an effort to get more patients involved in their treatment process, healthcare organizations are introducing new tools and features.

More Productive Work Environment

You can increase office efficiency by implementing a patient portal, making it simpler to stay in touch with your patients.

One way to reduce a patient’s waiting time in a doctor’s office is to allow them to use a patient portal, which helps expedite the registration process by enabling patients to save time by filling out information electronically.

Reducing the number of errors and inconsistencies found in patient files is another outcome of patient ID.

Additionally, they can have conversations with their doctors and medical professionals with ease.

Waiting to receive lab results over the phone or mail is a thing of the past – they can also simply log in to their portal if they want to access their information.

Patients can contact their doctors at any time to have their medical questions answered.

Receptionists and nurses can benefit from this because it helps them avoid the expected delay of waiting for the mail to arrive and taking time to reply.

You can send automated patient reminders to those who need to come in for their appointments using these.

These reminders can help your physicians get through more patients every day and increase their productivity.

Improved Office Workflow

And streamlining your office’s workflows can be achieved by implementing a patient portal.

You can utilize technology in your clinic to move phone calls to email to avoid staff wasting time answering questions that are not urgent.

The members of your healthcare organization are much better off focusing on serving people in dire need of healthcare assistance rather than assisting in your internal office administration.

Telemedicine Support

In addition to allowing patients to schedule appointments and renew prescriptions easily, patient portals are helpful because they will enable you to have more patients in the office who genuinely need your services.

Using this feature will improve your patients’ telemedicine experience, which uses the messaging system to enable you to have virtual office visits with your patients.

Patients can now ask you questions about prescriptions via the patient portal, which saves them time by eliminating the need to make multiple office visits for simple questions.

If a patient requires a prescription and appointment, you can use this feature to keep the appointment open and care for the patient’s needs without wasting time.

Fewer Medical Mistakes

A medical office staff member on the front lines, such as a receptionist, who must share patient information with nurses and doctors to handle incoming calls, must have practical listening skills.

Patients’ and healthcare providers’ medical issues can sometimes be misunderstood.

Having the ability to read patient correspondence gives you and your staff a chance to ensure accurate communication between you and your patients so that you can avoid any miscommunication.

This factor, in turn, helps you deliver care to your patients more effectively.

The patient portals we just talked about could improve patients’ lives through telemedicine tools, which help them get the proper medication for their condition when they need it.

Using the software before filling a prescription, the computer system will ensure the patient doesn’t interact between their existing medications and the new drug they are about to take.

Additional Factors to Consider

You can communicate with your patients more frequently and make them more likely to pay for care by offering additional features with a patient portal.

With this, appointments can be made more quickly and assure patients that they know what is going on with their health.

Portals can help your patients stay informed by making it easy to access test results, billing information, consent forms, and other relevant documents.

It is a waste of time to explain everything in detail each time someone comes into the office; instead, we send people records and results so we do not have to revisit each subject.

You will see even more patients each day, allowing you to follow your schedule more efficiently.

If their patients have questions, they can either wait until their next appointment to ask for further information or simply look at the patient portal.

Challenges of Patient Portals

Patient portals are now in widespread use, but people are decidedly divided on their effectiveness.

Patient portals are proven to offer several advantages, as described above.

However, they have not had the opportunity to realize their full potential yet.

Patients have difficulty getting into their patient portals, which are poorly designed, difficult to navigate, and limited utility.

Due to these setbacks, patients will be more inclined to contact their physician if they face even the slightest difficulty, which will counteract the positive impacts.

Poor patient portals are time-consuming and resource-intensive for both you and your employees and physicians, neither of whom are compensated for their time.

Why do people emphasize including patient portals in EHR, EMR, and practice management system decisions if patient portals aren’t all that good?

One of the benefits of patient portals is that they will be even better in the future because industry trends indicate significant improvement.

The most obvious examples include:

Valuing Authentic Care

In the new world of value-based care, where health providers must prove they’ve successfully managed the entire patient experience, providers will have extra incentive to keep patients happy, monitor compliance, and keep costs under control.

Patient portals positively impact patient health, assist in healthy habits, and improve service-delivery time inpatient records.

Data Management

Data will have a prominent role in the future of healthcare and medicine.

There is a 36 percent projected growth rate in big data volume in healthcare through 2025, with the overall industry growth outpacing manufacturing and financial services.

Not only is patient information readily available, but this also means patients have access to a whole set of information about their health that’s not readily available via their doctor or clinical interaction.

Suppose this is done correctly with this tool.

In that case, it can significantly improve the patient experience, and we will be able to monitor the progress of treatment easily and follow up with patients to ensure they stay on track.

Valuing Patient as Consumer/Customer

Patients are shifting from patients to healthcare consumers, and this will expand the use of patient portals.

As a general rule, people want quick access to their medical information and more say in medical decisions.

Going online to research your medical condition and treatment options is an extension of the general practice of searching for and selecting your provider, so of course, there are patient portals as well.

They expect that customers will get a good experience with their brand and reward people who buy often.

Multi-Platform Mobile Applications Accessibility

Patient portals are boosted by the increasing number of smartphone, app, and wearable device users.

Information about the patient’s health and activity has grown because of this, due to a greater amount of surveillance and uploading.

The success of patient portals has created a feedback loop where greater knowledge of their health leads to increased self-management, all of which leads to better care.

Things To Consider When Choosing A Portal:

Ask yourself, what do you want in the patient portal you want to choose?

A standalone patient portal can be found in a variety of forms in the cloud and has a very low barrier to entry due to the simplicity of its structure.

If you go this route, there is a possibility that it could create problems for your EMR and/or EHR software, which will necessitate time and money spent negotiating with your software vendors.

Alternatively, your EHR, EMR, or practice management software can include patient portal functionality.

The patient portal feature offered by the majority of these systems is encouraging.

A patient portal cannot be equal to the other patient portals, and it can differ dramatically in terms of how it functions and how it can be used.

Thus, you must think about the following:

Software Pricing

Patients using patient portal software can find it in a number of locations.

It may be bundled with their health IT system or purchased separately.

Are you thinking about offering training, upkeep, repairs, and updates with your solution?

Have you evaluated if you’re going to have to charge extra for any of these things?

Being Unique and Customizable

Your patient portal should ideally be flexible (especially if you are a specialty clinic).

To make sure you get something that fits your clinic perfectly, you’re going to want to choose an option with a configurable interface.

Managing Patients and Their Data

Is the patient portal capable of replenishing orders, monitoring compliance, monitoring patient progress, schedule/cancel appointments, payment bills, uploading documents, and download practice forms?

Look for which features are most important to your patients and compare that list with what’s available on your patient portal.

Clearcut Communications

Communication is a very critical component to have to make a business successful.

Physicians and patients alike want the ease of communication and information exchange that digital messaging systems offer.

Patients mustn’t waste time and frustration uploading documents.

Ease of Access

You should think about how often a patient accesses the patient portal.

This is helpful if the patient is not frequently using the software.

To enable ease of use and support multiple devices, you want logging to be simple and straightforward.

UI (User Interface)

The navigation and user-friendliness of the site are quite important.

Imagine how your customer will feel when using the product.

A system must be simple and convenient to use for maximum impact.

It is also important to ensure that test results and other patient-relevant information is laid out in a clear way that can be easily accessed.

A vital factor to think about is if the portal accommodates people who are blind and who do not speak English.

Patients will be able to track immunizations, medications, and allergies as well as look at lab results all in one place.

Additionally, patients should be able to look at their medical history, records, and personal information.

Patients may benefit from a library of educational materials that will be available on many patient portals.

Data Privacy

The safety of personal information is one of the most important considerations with any online software.

In order to protect the privacy of patients, it is crucial to ensure that your solution is HIPAA-compliant.

You’re looking for a stable, encrypted connection that will keep your data safe and won’t allow outsiders to access it.

One of the necessary criteria is for a service to be appropriate for kids, so make sure your solution is also confidential and legally sound.

Staff and Personal Development

Patients increasingly favor and use patient portals, which are becoming increasingly popular and essential.

EHRs can differ in their abilities to adequately respond to these issues, which might not meet your needs.

It’s not as simple as throwing some ingredients together because your dedication defines the final outcome.

Are you planning to give your medical staff, doctors, and nurses training?

Do you believe that patients should be made aware of the patient portal?

Patient portal

Conclusion

Patients will undoubtedly reap multiple benefits if your medical practice takes advantage of a patient portal.

In order to use a patient portal successfully, it is essential to bear these considerations in mind.

You’ve already made your choice about which tool you’ll use if you’ve gotten this far.

Now you just have to pick which one.

Is the concept of patient portals easy for you to understand now?

Do you have any lingering queries?

Have you noticed any increases in the use of these portals for your healthcare organization?

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts about this.

About the author

Katie Brownley

Health & IT Journalist covering Cybersecurity News, Data Breaches and Security Industry News. Email is open for DM and News Tips are Welcome

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