The Patient Portal 101, How to Stand Out in the Industry

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The Patient Portal 101, How to Stand Out in the Industry

TL;DR

  • Patients are showing widespread interest in online medical tools: patient portals, electronic health records, etc.
  • Patient portals bridge the care gap between the time the patient is at the office, to when he’s at home. Utilizing one will help you stand out in the industry.

As we transition towards an age of electronic healthcare, we must remember our commitment to patient engagement. New technology may create new avenues in communication, but new tech is useless if it’s foreign and unwieldy.

Perhaps the most underutilized, yet most critical function of electronic healthcare is the patient portal. The patient portal bridges the care gap between the time the patient is at the office, to when he’s at home.

How important is a patient portal?

A recent survey by Gartner found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, and 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations by 2017.

Coupled with news of  widespread interest in online medical tools—effective use of the electronic healthcare tools will help you standout as innovative and patient-forward.

Here we go over the features of a strong patient portal, and why every practice needs one.

What Your Portal Should Do For You

The patient portal is a gateway between provider and patient. The portal supplements the patient experience by keeping patients involved and educated, which leads to better health outcomes.

Not all patient portals are the same. Some electronic health record (EHR) companies offer the bare minimum and do little to add to the patient experience. A 2014 ONC report revealed only 3 in 10 individuals had online access to their medical records last year, of those with access, 46% viewed their online record at least once. Clearly, patient portal implementation is weak among the health industry, which means a provider with a strong patient portal will grab more attention than others.

So how do we know a quality patient portal when we see one?

The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines “Best in Class” patient portals as those with:

  • Branding, User experience, and Functionality: a meticulous focus on the user experience with visual styling (practice name/health system), a consistent color palate and font, and consistent imagery. Maximal effort on the key portal functions such as viewing test results, secure communication with clinicians (appointments, registration, education, prescription requests, and telemedicine capabilities).
  • Information Display: the most robust and comprehensive patient portal is useless if the users cannot understand the data. A strong patient portal must have data displayed in user-friendly and informative ways.
  • Appropriate Language: Use simple language and familiar words in short sentences. Understand your audience. Communication to your patient should be in language everyone they understand.

PrognoCIS and Patient Portal

Patient Portal App Images
PrognoCIS Patient Portal iPhone App

Developing a strong patient portal should not be tasked on the provider. A quality EHR should provide a quality patient portal. We have taken note of HIMSS’ “Best in Class” patient portals features and developed the PrognoCIS Patient Portal, which allows physicians to:

  • Securely communicate with patients and send messages lab results, appointment reminders, and electronic statements
  • View and book appointments,  refill prescriptions
  • Have balance statements posted to allow patients to complete transactions within the portal
  • Use our custom electronic form templates which save physicians and patients both time and effort
  • Transmit data to patients in HIPAA-compliant fashion

We believe the patient portal is crucial for a provider’s success. We’ve created this infographic to show you how to maximize visibility with your patient portal. 

Patient Portals Are the Future of Healthcare

Healthcare in this day and age is more than mere physical interaction. The patient experience starts when they walk in the door, and continues till they are at home, healthy and satisfied.

The patient portal is relatively new technology, and it will take time for patients to fully utilize it. A strong patient portal is one that is adaptable and customizable. Work with your EHR to provide the best possible interface for you and your patients, Some patients may have never used a portal; walk them through the steps to logging in while highlighting the advantages of a patient portal (how they can message and schedule appointments, check lab results, and make online payments).

Your patients will have varying levels of technological literacy and access. Patients in rural areas, may have limited access and need a very simple interface, whereas those in fast moving environments may appreciate a fully optimized mobile patient portal.

Visit our PrognoCIS Patient Portal page where we highlight the various features of our patient portal, from our extensive medical history to our fully optimized iPhone app.

Picture Credit: Intel Free Press/Flickr