5 Questions to consider before creating your Patient Portal

A patient portal is an innovative way to connect and engage your patients before and after the visit your clinic. If you are thinking about implementing one into your clinic, here are 4 important questions to consider.

1) What Can Patient Portals Do?

Patient portals have a range of services they offer. Some types come as an application that’s part of an EHR package and links to the patient’s record within that software. Physicians involved in health information exchanges may have portals that pull patient information from multiple EHRs.

Most patient portals offer access to basic health information such as:

  • Recent Visit and Discharge Summaries
  • Medication lists
  • Allergies
  • Lab results
  • Immunizations

In addition, some portals allow patients to:

  • Send secure messages to your health care team.
  • Request prescription refills
  • Schedule and confirm appointments online
  • Pay bills directly
  • Download forms for medical history
  • View your patient education materials

2) How would a Patient Portal benefit my Clinic?

The goal of your patient portal should be to improve patient engagement, build trust, and eventually improve patient outcomes. For most doctors, the potential benefits of adopting patient portals include:

  • Less time spent trying to reach patients to share test results
  • Patients and team can send messages directly, reducing miscommunication
  • Patients can easily access their records.
  • Staff spend less time spent answering and routing incoming calls for non-emergency health questions, records requests, and refills.
  • Patients have faster access to their test results.
  • Patients can more easily keep track of their medical information.

3) How Do You Choose a Portal?

If you don’t have access to a patient portal from your EHR, you’ll need to evaluate the offerings from each vendor. Here are a few things to look for:

  • HIPAA compliancy
  • Two-way secure messaging
  • Compatibility with your existing system
  • The features your patients most commonly ask for
  • Mobile-device compatibility

4) What Does Implementation Involve?

As with any other technology, setting up a patient portal requires time, research, tech support, education, and some workflow changes. Before choosing to implement a patient portal, it makes sense to to survey your patients about which features they’d most like to see.

They may be interested in accessing records, online scheduling or bill paying, but less so in other features such as educational tools. Taking the time to check will ensure that the patients get what they need as much as you do.
 5) Will Your Patients Use It?

The benefits of a patient portal are great, however the litmus test for any practice is whether your patients will adopt the new technology. Polls have shown that patients want online tools to make appointments, access their health information, and communicate with their doctors.

Despite this desire, using an online portal means setting up yet another username and password and learning another online tool. Your patients will have to feel that it’s worth it. Proper marketing and education to your patients about how to use the portal is very important.

Patient Portals in a medical clinic hold a lot of promise for improving relationships and interaction. They can also help your patients be better informed and more engaged. They are another example of technology making healthcare easier.