5 Ways a Patient Portal Can Help Your Practice Grow

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There is a demand in the healthcare industry for practices to keep up with the on-the-go lifestyles of their patients while simultaneously communicating the importance of making time for their health. Many healthcare organizations have turned to a patient portal, which is a secure online environment that allows patients to access their medical records and contact with their healthcare providers.

Below we highlight five benefits that both patients and practices can get from using a patient portal:

1. Patient portals save practices time and money.

Patient portals streamline several systems into quicker and more efficient processes. For example, live online appointment scheduling reduces time-consuming expensive phone calls and allows office staff to more productively allocate their time. A portal also allows patients to view lab and test results online as soon as they are available, and decreases a practice’s printing and mailing costs for the results, which can quickly add up.

2. Patient portals foster an environment of constant, purposeful communication between doctor and patient.

Thorough communication is essential for patient progress. With the patient portal messaging feature, patients can directly contact their doctor and receive a faster response to their questions, ultimately avoiding unnecessary office visits. Further, office staff can send email or SMS text message reminders to patients to notify them of upcoming or suggested appointments. For example, a gynecology patient portal can send reminders to female patients to schedule their annual mammogram encouraging higher patient engagement.

3. Patient portals increase the likelihood of a healthier outcome for the patient.

Patients who feel more empowered are more likely to make healthier choices, experience higher levels of satisfaction, and recommend their doctor or practice to a friend. Patient portals can provide their patients with educational materials, such as brief descriptions of videos, tailored to their specific conditions or health concerns.

Doctors can also use the care plan modules to encourage patients to make healthier decisions. For example, a cardiology patient portal can create a heart health care plan and send patients email reminders to complete To Do list items such as logging their weight in the mornings and exercising for 30 minutes daily.

4. Patient portals help practices meet Meaningful Use requirements.

Practices implementing an EMR system with the intention of attesting to Meaningful Use should consider whether a portal could help them meet Stage 1 and 2 requirements.  Successfully meeting these requirements means that the practice can qualify for federal funding to offset the cost of their EMR.

5. Patient Portals keep all conversations between a patient and his/her doctor HIPAA compliant.

HIPAA regulations forbid doctors and patients from sending ePHI (electronic protected health information) via email or text message.  This includes not only medical records, but any references to the patient’s medical conditions or treatments, however informal or vague.  

Messaging through a secure patient portal is a great solution for practices that want to allow patients to communicate with their doctor online.  Using a portal for doctor-patient messaging allows medical practices to implement the technology that their customer base is used to without violating HIPAA.

What Are Your Goals?

Ultimately, practices should reflect on their organizational goals to determine whether or not a patient portal would be beneficial for their agenda.  But with healthcare shifting more and more toward electronic methods of communication, implementing a portal is one way to adapt to the changing model of healthcare and encourage a healthier patient base.