News Feature | June 30, 2014

What Should A Patient Portal Look Like?

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Patient Portals

When dealing with your clients, it’s essential to remember that ultimately, any technology solution they implement is actually about the patient. This is especially true in healthcare, which is why industry moves toward patient-centered care have gotten so much attention. In the past, patient interaction with the industry was limited to time with clinicians and paying actual bills, but as time progresses, we’re seeing a push toward more patient-driven tech initiatives. One of those getting attention as of late, is the patient portal.

An Increase In Spending

In a recent survey conducted by tech consultancy Software Advice in collaboration with Research Now, patient portals got a lot of focus. The survey revealed that 35 percent of EHR (electronic health records) users invested more in patient portals in 2014 than they did in the previous year. This means that many of your current clients are either planning, or are likely open to increasing investment in the technology now, and going forward.

But what does that mean in terms of an actual solution?

A Focus On Patient Needs

Providers, with all their insight into patient needs, can frequently get caught up in the cold details of tech solutions. You though, can help them get past that and work to create a solution that’s effective for them, and that their patients actually use (a metric by which they’ll definitely be grading project success). If you don’t have time to conduct your own patient survey, this article from MedCityNews outlines four desires that patients will have around any portal they interact with. 

  • Convenience: Patients want to be able to interact with the portal when and how they want.
  • Connection: Patients want to be able to interact outside of the clinic or hospital, once they’re out on their own. This means that mobile and internet options will be essential features.
  • Support: Solutions should include portable, digestible, actionable information. Patients need to understand something to do it.
  • Individuality: Essentially, that means customization. If a patient feels like a number, the “patient-centered” value is already dead.

The article highlights not only the importance of these values, but the fact that EHR designers and providers are already failing in this area.

What Your Clients Need

While patient needs come first, your clients need to know that you are directing their needs toward a successful project implementation. Mainline Health, in a recent white paper, details the top five best practices in launching a patient portal.

  • Choose your teams carefully: From provisioning, to marketing, to executive coordination, every aspect of implementation should be spearheaded by a diverse group of employees and product experts.
  • Focus on provisioning: High patient participation requires a quick and easy provisioning process that even non-tech savvy users can navigate.
  • Get the word out: Information sharing is still a controversial topic among physicians, and system-wide buy-in will require consistent communication from start to finish.
  • Set concrete goals: Clear objectives in each stage of implementation will pave the way for effective pilot programs and long-term improvements.
  • Respond to all stakeholders: Decision-makers should prioritize changes and additions based on feedback from patients and employees alike.

Go Deeper

While the openness of a patient portal may excite your clients, concerns around patient privacy and safety are still incredibly important, and are influential forces behind IT purchases made by providers today. Check out our article, Healthcare IT Driven By The Patient, to learn more about these forces, and how they’re shaping information technology in the healthcare vertical.