A successful practice is one that does two things well: maintains financial profitability, and develops strong provider-patient relationships. The way a practice communicates and educates patients is a huge factor in determining healthcare success. The simple and underutilized tool to create better patient engagement is an efficient use of healthcare portals. Portals are online gateways of communication between doctors, patients, and clinical staff.
For example, the most well-known portal, the patient portal, creates a way patients can “talk” to their provider, from the comfort of home. Patients are now looking at electronic health records (EHRs) and digital health tools like portals to create a complete patient experience.
Portals come in many variations and not all providers will have every type of portal. Each one, however, is crucial in its specific function. Here we go over the three different types of portals of PrognoCIS and the unique benefits they give your practice.
The Patient Portal, Patient Satisfaction, and Workplace Productivity
The most recognizable portal of all, patient portals bridge the care gap from when the patient is at the office, so when he or she is at home. Patient portals are the key to effective communication between provider and patient, as they “…engage patients in their care,” said Lesley Kadlec director of health information management practice excellence at AHIMA in a Health IT News article. “You can send them reminders, get test results quickly, facilitate online conversations, and refill medication without a phone call during office hours. The beauty is 24/7 access and portability. Key benefits of patient portals are:
- Making appointments, viewing lab results, financial statements, and prescription refills
- Sending messages such as appointment reminders, electronic statements
- Communication with patients’ other physicians without the potential delay of phone messages
- Easy and quick online payments for both biller and patient
- Electronic forms are quick and easy to use and do not suffer from the faults of physical forms
However, patient portal adoption is slow because of the variance of quality between them. Providers have rushed to implement patient portals to fulfill meaningful use incentives, instead of creating a patient experience. There has been a “lack of seamless workflow and interoperability between EHRs and patient portals”, said Julia Yoo, chief product officer at Kyruus, a Boston-based developer of patient access tools. “To drive patient engagement, both physician and non-physician staff must put in the time and effort to be responsive to patient communications, which means dedicated time to monitor the portal during the day.”
To facilitate positive patient engagement, find an EHR with a robust patient portal. Learn more about PrognoCIS’ Patient Portal features here.
The Referring Physician Portal, Promoting Interoperability
We usually think of improving the patient experience outcomes by finding solutions at the point of care—in other words, how to treat and educate our patients better. Tools like patient portals fulfill this job, but another solution is promoting interoperability. Interoperability in the form of sharing information between clinics in the same network or in different networks, with the goal of improving health outcomes can be achieved with a Referring Physician Portal.
This type of portal allows for the secure transfer of information across networks for consultation. These portals are great tools for creating an intelligent health network. The key benefits are:
- Secure HIPAA-compliant methods of referring doctors and staff to view reports and images, request appointments, and manage patient eligibility
- Automated workflows which promote efficiency. Streamline the patient referrals and report (lab, charts) distribution from exams
- Creates a network of collaboration, more information, and second opinions
- Integration with other portals for more interoperability
However, not all providers employ Referring Physician Portals. PrognoCIS’ Referring Physician Portal is part of its EHR package along with the other portals.
The Employer Portal, Managing Occupational Health
Occupational health revolves around employee safety and workplace productivity and maintaining high levels of both require operating systems to function at peak efficiency. Electronic health records and digital medical tools play an integral part in facilitating occupational health, as they provide the electronic workflow needed to manage many workplace procedures.
The Employee Portal is a new function of PrognoCIS’ upcoming Upgraded EHR Suite ‘Denali’ is designed for securely sharing a patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI) to their Employer. The Employer Portal will allow employers who are registered in a clinic to view various documents shared by a clinic and an employee’s billing related information for treatments taken in the clinic.
The portal is especially useful for claims processing. Employers can track aging buckets, claim invoices, payments posted (or not posted), and much more. The Employer Portal is a great way to manage finances. Not many EHRs offer similar functionality because the Employer Portal is made specifically for Occupational Health practitioners.
Healthcare Portals Are the First Steps in Value-Based Care
Electronic healthcare is the next frontier in patient engagement, and effective use of patient portals is the first step to conquering this new health landscape. The HITECH Act and MACRA have laid the path for a value-based healthcare system in America, and healthcare portals serve as supplements to the value-based mindset.
It’s important to note that meaningful use of healthcare portals is not a “best practice tip”. Meaningful use of digital medical tools is mandated by law in MACRA, which is why finding an EHR that knows what they’re doing and works well for you, is very important. From patient portals to employer portals, finding an EHR that is aware of the benefits of digital patient engagement tools can help you create a successful practice.