Introduction:

In today’s healthcare scenario, patients are seen as consumers. And if consumers are satisfied and happy with the providers’ services, then practice will flourish. Moreover, providers leverage intuitive tech solutions to engage these patients. Patient Portal in healthcare is a patient engagement system that helps providers deliver effective care and generate higher revenue.   

Besides, a patient portal is like a web account or website where all patients (under the specific practitioner) have access to their personal health information. Patients have a username and password to log in to their portals. And utilize different services offered by the provider.   

Further, patient portals in healthcare help providers understand their capabilities and decide the best for their practice. Providers also integrate patient engagement portals to grant users online access to their health information under Stage 2 MU principles. It’s federal MU’s criteria for EHR to evolve and ensure accurate electronic data exchange.   

Apart from this, patient portal developers integrate advanced modalities to amplify patient engagement. Advanced portal features also help providers collect valuable insights, which serves useful for the patient and population health management. At OSP, we were asked by a US-based company to help them implement an advanced remote patient monitoring product with a virtual health app. This client faced multiple challenges, including incompetency to give real-time health access to patients. We analyzed their challenges and planned a patient monitoring app that is like a healthcare patient portal. Our customized patient app offered a plethora of solutions-  

  • Telehealth/video conferencing– Easily consultant doctors without the hassle of commuting via video call  
  • Chatbot– Directly interact with providers through real-time texting  
  • Health Management– A tool that enables viewing patient data anytime, using any device  
  • My Community– Patients can build and connect with a community for sharing day-to-day updates   

Barriers Providers Face in Patient Portal Adoption

The growing demand for patient portals in healthcare is due to payers’ patient-centric services and the high adoption rate of EHR systems. However, providers still face barriers when implementing healthcare patient portal systems.    

Barriers

Low health literacy among patients– While technology is advancing at warp speed, patients or users still have a long way to go understand patient portals and patient engagement systems. The lack of good patient health literacy hinders the implementation of the healthcare patient portal. And if patients can’t understand the content of the Portal, then they will turn sceptical about using it. However, EHR integrated patient portals through Cloud Computing technology and clinical informatics accumulate critical health information to educate patients. So, providers should consider patient literacy when planning to implement or boost their patient portals.  

Lack of user-friendly portals– Patient health literacy isn’t enough. High-end, advanced patient portals often fail, as users can’t access or control them appropriately. So, if patients find it difficult to use, then the healthcare patient portal system is not user-friendly. So, providers must ensure patient portals are user-friendly to cater to the needs of the users rightly.   

Patient Unsure about Portal’s Use– Recent studies highlight that patients are skeptical about these patient portals. These patients point out that they are fit and healthy without any chronic illness because they do not prefer a patient portal. Hence, providers need to find accurate and logical marketing ways to attract them.   

Preferring In-person communication– Some patients have reported preferring in-person contact over the virtual way. It’s a significant barrier impacting the adoption of patient portals for healthcare. However, providers can extract insights on patient characteristics by deploying healthcare analytics solutions or through medical records management to understand this barrier.

No adequate promotion of patient portals– The low adoption rate of patient portals in healthcare, at times, is due to no promotion or inadequate marketing. In integrated healthcare, patients are just like valued customers. And just like regular customers, patients today require testimonials and effective promotion for any health services. So, practitioners or hospitals designing online patient portals need to employ effective tools for promotions

Must-Have Features in a Standard Patient Portal

Providers, who have an integrated care management system or have online practice management, must consider the challenges of adopting patient portals. However, the right combination of features can transform patient portals and customers’ attitudes towards them.  

Here are some must-have features-   

Features

Secure communication– One of the foremost requirements of a patient portal is secure communication between provider and patient. And the best way to ensure this feature is to develop an EHR integrated patient portal.    

Access to Health Information– EHR-integrated patient portals assures secure communication and provides patients with convenient and easy access to their health information. Moreover, this feature will even improve healthcare interoperability.   

Payment Options– Healthcare patient portal systems must include bill payment options for patients’ convenience. Integrating this feature is beneficial for providers also, as it will eventually minimize payment losses and errors.   

Appointment Scheduling– Appointment Scheduling is another must-have feature in the patient portal in healthcare. It makes booking appointments and consultations easier for both patients and providers.  

Reminders/Alerts– Patient engagement portals are primarily to ensure value-based care services for patients. Moreover, with features like appointment scheduling and payment options, patient portals must also include reminders and alerts to keep users informed about upcoming appointments, lab test results, and more.   

Prescription/lab test report Follow-up– An advanced patient portal must also develop prescription follow-ups or lab test report request options to improve the patient engagement goals of the provider.   

New Registration– If a Patient Portal isn’t open to new users. It’s an essential feature in all patient portals.   

Trends that Impact Patient Portals

Trends

Mobile Apps (IoT)– Advancements in IoT resulted in a surge in mobile health apps. Health and wellness apps include diverse healthcare providers’ solutions such as wellness management app and wearables too. Moreover, the increase in such apps has imposed an immediate need to leverage an electronic health record patient portal to monitor and collect real-time data. Even patients are more aware of their health through patient portal apps.   

Big Data– Increasing emphasis on health data indicates how important it is to capture patient portal information. After all, physicians or providers can’t always get critical information just by interacting with patients. So, patient portals are like mine for providers, and through Big Data technology, they collect PHI.   

Value-based Care– Current health industry in the U.S is aiming to implement value-based care. And patient portals for healthcare are apt to implement value-based care, as it enhances the patient experience and other clinical limitations

Benefits of Implementing Patient Portals

Implementation of patient portals is extremely needful today. The Covid-19 outbreak brought to light the importance of technology in delivering care services virtually. And patient health portals are contributing towards improving virtual services. Moreover, it has a diverse set of benefits, which are-    

Services

Clinical Efficiency– The burden of administrative tasks and lack of effective communication affect clinical efficiency. However, with patient portals in healthcare the patient-provider communication, billing, and data solutions have improved.   

Popularizing Telemedicine– It’s pretty evident that telemedicine is at its peak of popularity. But patient portal integration with telemedicine options would promote telemedicine directly to customers. So, providers and hospitals must engineer the web patient portals with telemedicine options to highlight their service.   

Streamlined workflow– Managing clinical workflows is no easy task. Numerous calls and visits burden the hospital staff and nurses. However, leveraging patient portals can cut down this burden and streamline workflows.   

Growth of the practice– The shifted focus towards patient-centric care is a result of patient portals. And by giving users access to their medical records through patient portals, the physician provider witnesses a rapid growth of their practice.   

Increase patient engagement– It’s pretty evident that patient portals result in enhanced patient engagement. Patient portals in healthcare with essential features cater to the needs of patients. And when all consultation, pharmacy, and health information services are in one place, it’s easier for them to access and utilize.

Conclusion  

A Patient Portal in healthcare is a bridge that keeps patients and providers connected throughout. Besides, there is no debate about how a patient portal is beneficial for providers. Understanding the patient engagement market is a great way to develop health patient portals that would cater to the needs of patients and providers. Moreover, patient portals in healthcare benefits providers on multiple levels too. Providers gather PHI data and their characteristic behavioral points to keep doctors informed about patients’ conditions beforehand. And advanced portals with integrated EHR and health interoperability can enhance the data exchange process. So, leveraging a patient portal system will improve their performance and revenue for providers aiming to achieve a value-based system or an efficient practice.