News | February 06, 2015

Not All Patient Portals Are Created Equal

Five must-have features to look for in a patient portal

patient experience, information technology, royal solutions group

Image courtesy of Royal Solutions

February 6, 2015 — Patient Portals are a trending item in the healthcare industry, but what does the term "Patient Portal" really mean?  And more importantly, what can a Patient Portal do for you?  In reality, the patient portal moniker has become a confusing industry catch-all; patient portals from one vendor may provide entirely different levels of service and interactivity than another.  Adding to the confusion is the fact that both may still fail to offer the services that you as a provider are looking for.  The truth is, some portals are very limited, offering only a basic login and access to patient history.  Other portals, however, are highly functional and interact seamlessly with workflow and offer everything from intuitive check-in to patient reminders, self-registration and even payment options.

Below are a few efficiency-making functionalities you should be looking for when in the market for a patient portal.

1)      Electronic Patient Entered Data & Interoperability

What is the point of a patient portal if your staff is still required to enter patient data?  This is redundant. To leverage the speed and efficiency of technology, information your patients fill-in should automatically get entered and verified in your existing systems of record. The portal could then pull information from your existing systems to provide access to your patients, even from past appointments. One powerful, efficient portal will interact with your entire office, no matter what technologies you already have in place.

2)      Pre-registration From Anywhere or Any Device

While patients are accessing the portal from home, they can also register for appointments remotely. This allows patients to arrive for an appointment with registration complete and fully entered. Additionally, higher-functioning portals allow document uploading and payment options so your patients can walk-in and focus on what matters most, getting treatment.

3)      Patient Estimates & Payments

Get accurate insurance, payment and co-pay estimates and accept payments through your portal. Some portals harness accurate estimation and eligibility software that makes billing less complicated and allows for quicker payments by allowing patients to pay from anywhere while using the portal.

4)      Custom Workflow

Optimize and tailor your workflow and electronic registration to the fastest possible output of your individual practice. Healthcare practices are highly individual and unique; no two offices have the same workflow.  It is likely an out-of-the-box portal geared for one practice will not sufficiently meet all of you needs. Quality vendors, however, will tailor your electronic registration process to match the exact needs of your practice.

5)      Patient Engagement

Quality patient portals automatically remind patients of appointment times, exams, billing etc.  Reminder intervals can be selected by staff or individualized by the patient to suit what serves them best.  Portal reminder features gives office staff freedom from phone calls, letters and email and automatically notifies patients for you. This results in higher front office productivity and patient interaction, while significantly reducing over-bookings and the costly no-show appointment.

Armed with this knowledge, you can find a patient portal that is specifically geared to your office.  Quality patient portals meet unique needs and use seamless technology to interact with existing infrastructure to create a highly functioning, efficient office while adding immeasurable value to the patient experience and your bottom line.

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