- Dr. Glenn Updike, medical director at MyUPMC recently shared ahead of his HIMSS21 presentation...
However, simply creating a patient portal will not result in patients using the portal effectively - if at all. The patient portal must be developed to be HIPAA-compliant, designed around the patient’s needs, and integrate appropriately into the provider’s workflow so that it is woven in at all touchpoints -- from sharing information in a secure way, communicating with patients, scheduling appointments, reminders for preventative and follow-up care, prescriptions, checking health benefits, and more. Additionally, patients must be able to easily access the portal, and clearly understand the benefits they will experience from leveraging the portal.
HIPAA Compliance is Key
Before any patient portal is launched, it must follow HIPAA compliance, which means it follows the standards for the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI)-- ultimately information that can be used to identify a patient. This enables providers to ensure that patient privacy is not at risk.
Having a web development partner who can ensure your patient portal is HIPAA-compliant is necessary because it ensures the protections are in place that make it possible for patients to leverage the portal experience to the fullest -- submitting forms, reviewing lab information and important updates from the provider. If healthcare providers attempt to complete these types of tasks without ensuring HIPAA compliance, it not only hurts their reputation, it can also lead to hefty fines. Ultimately, a portal is most effective when the provider and the patient can trust that the site is secure and that PHI is protected.
The development of a patient portal improves the patient experience and offers additional access points to healthcare. As a result, patients are engaged and able to take a proactive approach to their health, which can ultimately save lives.
Key Benefits of Patient Portals
Improve patient/doctor relationships
Encourage better clinical outcomes
Launching the Patient Portal
Consider your practice’s culture, goals and priorities when you are planning out your portal and implementation process. What are the key ways the practice will benefit from the portal? And how will patients benefit? What features and services will you offer? Will you do a phased roll-out of the portal? And how will you communicate the use of the portal both internally and externally?
Determine the answers to these questions and you will have a solid path for the portal launch. Be sure to incorporate the entire staff in promoting the portal -- from signage, to communication, and talking points to be shared during patient visits. Assign a team that will support patients in registering for the portal, and troubleshooting any issues they experience.
How to inspire Patients to Leverage your Patient Portal
First, consider making the patient portal enrollment part of initial care and onboarding procedures. This sets the portal as a standard in your practice from the first appointment.
Optimize your portal for mobile use to encourage patients to access their information from anywhere, and also secure involvement among low-income people who do not have access to a computer at home. Encourage patients to leverage the portal when they are unable to arrange an appointment or in-person visit. They will experience streamlined service and realize the benefits of the portal.
Additionally, a successful patient portal experience goes well beyond scheduling appointments and securing lab results. Incorporating interactive and personalized tools will make the portal experience more relevant to patients--resulting in them not only more likely to register for the portal, but to continue to use it as well. If patients are accessing the portal but not truly interacting with the content or there is high drop off, it is an opportunity to curate the content and serve up better tools that meet the patient's needs.
As patients get more comfortable using patient portals, providers can start an email newsletter or awareness campaign to market new features of the technology. Adding push notifications through email, secure text, and badge notifications are a must have to keep patients engaged and fast track access to relevant information.
At the end of the day, consider how the patients are feeling after each experience with the portal. If the first experience with the patient portal is positive, the more likely the patient is to continue using it.
How to get started with developing your custom patient portal
LTI develops custom, HIPAA-compliant, easy-to-use patient portals to support the needs of our clients, which range from single practitioners to rural clinics, to healthcare systems. Our web development team is experienced in creating portals that can be integrated with our telehealth software for quick connection to a provider, as well as offer a mobile-optimized interface and range from patient onboarding to enabling patients to schedule their own appointments and view their health information, making payments, and more.
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