5 tips for a successful patient portal application

Patient Portals have become an important part of EHR software. Physicians, support staff, patients are all using it to communicate and exchange information. This medium has without a shadow of doubt, become one of the most important parts of any EHR system. Many of the EHR vendors are offering their products to be used on mobile devices and as such, the need  for having a good and usable patient portal application becomes inevitable.lock

Let’s see what  EHR software vendors  can do to create a successful patient portal application.

1. Create a communication plan: You must create a clear communication plan for your patient portal application. All  areas on your website which contain information about your application, must be updated to include details about your new app. Clearly identify when  the app will become available,  its features,  legal requirements, etc.

2. Include Plan B: One of the most important areas you need to focus on before launching your patient portal app is to know exactly how much time it takes for each app store to approve your app. Some can do it in days, while others can take longer. In case it is the latter, you need to have a Plan B on how you are going to market your app.

3. Read marketing guidelines: You need to go through all the marketing and advertising requirements of each app store before you make your app available. See what copyright/patent/trademark requirements each of the stores have and how you are going to work around it. Also make sure to read the legal requirements in detail.

4. Plenty of preparation: One of the most important requirements for success is to prepare well. Organize your meetings, schedules, demos, product testing, updates, guidelines etc. Make sure you have all of the important stuff in printed form in order to share it with everyone.

5. Communicate and follow-up: Make sure you clearly communicate about the patient portal to everyone in your company and follow up with them. A collective effort on everyone’s part will be required to make your app a success.

These are some of the guidelines which EHR vendors can follow in order to create and launch a patient portal application successfully.


Healthcare and Social Media: Impact, Issues and Governance

The radical global growth in information and communications technology has given rise to the number of internet users who account for 37% of the world’s total population according to ‘Internet World Statistics’.

With this growth, the burgeoning use of social media has also increased which includes collaborative projects such as Wikipedia, blogs and content communities such as Twitter and YouTube, and social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

The world has seen the influence of social media on global political and community initiatives which has to lead to its widespread recognition and use.

Social media has also influenced the healthcare industry and has widespread implications for its stakeholders. The World Health Organization has pages on social networking websites that share information regarding disease patterns and potential epidemics to its global followers.


Like other industries, social media has had an astounding impact on healthcare. Consumers can now express concerns or share information with healthcare professionals or other consumers through social networking websites. Through social networks, blogs, forums and communities, healthcare providers and consumers can communicate their issues and get immediate responses. According to research, 30% of adults in the U.S have been found to have received help through information found on the internet.

Indeed, social media has spread like wildfire and its outreach has influenced even the busiest individuals such as healthcare professionals. Providers and nurses have the opportunity to stay up-to-date with recent developments in the healthcare industry. Care providers professionals can now interact with others in the industry and share ideas and experiences.

Use of Social Media in healthcare has updated the way patients and care providers can connect. Ramona Nelson, co-author of a book explaining the impact of social media on healthcare states, “Patients are becoming our colleagues. It’s changing relationships and the kinds of questions and services a patient asks for.”


Increased use of social media has provided a new platform where the healthcare community can interact and interconnect, but it has brought with it several risks as well.

Healthcare providers are worried about the credibility of content being shared and used on social media. Since information is shared at such a rapid pace, moderation of healthcare-related content is very important so that inaccurate information such as rumors about spreading diseases are dispelled as quickly as possible.

When people are sharing healthcare information on unmonitored social media websites, there is a high risk of someone sharing private and confidential company information. This can be done deliberately or by mistake, nevertheless causing significant damage to providers, patients, and the company. Such issues usually involve employees sharing confidential information about patients or the employer on social networks like Facebook or Twitter in the form of posts, comments or multimedia.

Other issues consist of disgruntled healthcare employees or patients trying to manipulate, bully and negatively criticize their employers or patients. Such occurrences not only pose risks to the individuals involved in unethical behavior which might lead to divorce with their employers, but also a threat to healthcare organizations who may find their reputation tarnished in the industry.


It must not be forgotten that healthcare professionals are responsible for the confidentiality of patient health information and company privacy laws, which is why the industry leaders in collaboration with regulatory bodies should develop, educate and implement stringent policies regarding healthcare information so that the risks posed by free and open information-sharing platforms are minimized. The Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom recently developed the ‘Social Media Highway Code’ for its GPs to ensure that they meet their professional obligations and protect patient health information.

It is clear to see the vast benefits that the healthcare industry can utilize through the responsible usage of social media. The most important thing now is for regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH to include and implement stringent rules governing the use of social media in order to protect all parties involved.



The Road to Meaningful Use – Certified EMR

With the enduring efforts of promoting interoperability by the federal government and health IT vendors alike, we have observed a surge in the adoption of certified EMR across the nation. For some providers, the prime reason for adoption is avoiding penalties, while others view it as a professional responsibility. Regardless of their motives, it would be reasonable to deduce that the utilization of certified EMR technology in practices has raised the bar for the quality of patient care and staff productivity as well. All providers looking to comply with the Meaningful Use objectives must employ a certified EMR. The definition of certified EMR changes with the corresponding stage of Meaningful Use. As of now, we are in Meaningful Use stage one while stage two should begin in 2014.

Stage 2 of Meaningful Use requires the use of patient portals in order for providers to qualify for the apportioned incentives. The fundamental reason for the government’s focus on the use of patient portals is for the improvement in health management for patients. Once the patient feels involved, the level of satisfaction he/she experiences increases as well. As a result, there is better coordination between patients and physicians ensuing in a lot of time and hassle being saved for both.

According to a recent report published by KLAS, more than 50 percent of all clinics and hospitals varying in specialties nationwide have implemented patient portals in their practices. Moreover, this statistic is improving by the day. The current figure strongly indicates the sensitivity of physicians towards their patients’ needs along with a willingness to comply with the Meaningful Use guidelines. The final precept of stage 2 in regards to patient portals mandates that a minimum of five percent of a provider’s patients have to be active on their portal in order for the provider to qualify for their share of incentives.

Given the aforementioned benefits and the overall response of the physician community across the U.S. towards the use of certified EMR and patient portals, we can conclude that the implementation of this technology substantially improves practice efficiency and patient health management. The results may require time to become evident; slowly but surely, we are witnessing the benefits which are inherent to the use and utilization of health IT.


Patient Portals – A Patient’s Perspective

Patient portal is a web based application which allows patients to communicate and interact with their physicians and healthcare providers. Due to the benefits of this technology, it’s gaining more popularity amongst patients nationwide by the day. Numerous redundancies in the healthcare industry are bypassed by employing patient portals. Adopting this technology enables you to enhance your practice efficiency as it allows secure access for patients to their health information from anywhere at any time. As a result of this capability employees at any practice can save a significant amount of time spent on a patient’s record.

Forms which otherwise have to be filled out manually in the doctor’s office requiring the physical presence of the patient may now be done electronically through a patient portal. Some of the benefits to the patients via this technology are listed below.

Educational Content – Clinicians may address their patients on various health related concerns which would have a more direct and personal impact and educate them.

Online Messaging – Patients have a quicker and easier approach for getting in touch with their physicians via a patient portal. Instead of reaching them physically or over the phone at odd hours, a patient can simply leave a message for their doctor and get a response very quickly.

Schedule Online – Patients can now schedule appointments online through their patient portal which is much simpler than the conventional method of scheduling an appointment. Patients can view the available time slots of their physicians and may schedule a time which is convenient for them.

View Lab Results – Lab results may be easily viewed online in the software eliminating all the hassles otherwise.

Information Updates – Patients may update any demographic changes in their records as well as any changes in their insurance through the portal.

It’s very easy to see the appeal in such a platform for patients; moreover, it is practical for the healthcare provider as well. Patient Portals apart from helping practices complying with meaningful use policies are very advantageous for clinicians and patients alike. The bottom line which translates through this innovative solution is that it’s saving time and money for both patients and doctors.


The Importance of the Patient Portal for Modern Practices

History has showed us that businesses that utilize technology end up accumulating faster growth and sustainability, when compared with those that remain loyal to the conventional ways of doing business. Technology holds the key to transform processes in almost every industry, while saving time and hassle for those that utilize it.

Technology has lent a helping hand to entrepreneurs and businesses with scarce resources to effectively measure growth and monitor performance. Like many before it, the healthcare industry experts have also noticed the potential benefits from the utilization of healthcare technology or health IT, with the government providing financial incentives to providers with paperless practices. With the Obama administration focusing on the development and adoption of Electronic Medical Records, the health IT industry has seen a surge in investment opportunities. Having seen the numerous benefits of EMR and Practice Management solutions such as the reduction of cost and hassle along with faster processing, a vast majority of providers is convinced that these IT solutions have brought their practices into the 21st century.

Patient Portal

Although the initial adoption rates were sluggish, recent months have shown a significant improvement in the adoption rates across the nation. Many believe that this is a direct response to the development of Patient Portals. Although still in their infancy, these portals are designed to save time for practice staff and patients when requesting prescription refills, appointments, accessing labs, reviewing clinical documentation or monitoring health through built-in alerts. The recent surge in the development of Cloud based systems has meant that the availability of healthcare records is now more mobile than ever before.

The Patient Portal provides a real-time connection between physicians and their patients at all times, which ensures that physicians can remotely answer patient enquiries immediately. This introduction has meant that patients do not always have to be physically present in the doctor’s office to have them refill their prescription or request appointments – making the entire process more efficient. This also means that a doctor’s office phone can now ring a lot less than it used to because patients do not need to call every time they need to request an appointment. The fact that these Portals allow patients to review their health records online, set personal health goals, get refills, schedule appointments, obtain test results and share their health information with other physicians ensures better health maintenance and is inevitably a bonus for physicians and patients alike.

“This is probably one of the best things to happen in the world of health IT. Physicians have always looked for a better way to remain connected with their patients and Patient Portals have provided just that. One can only imagine what the Patient Portals of the future will be like”, says a health IT expert.

From the patient’s perspective, the overall improvement in their experience because of these portals has given them a valid reason to differentiate when choosing their healthcare provider.


Patient Portal – Helping Patients Along the Way

Recently, during a discussion with my colleague I found out some impressive facts about patient portals. Over the last few years, patient portals have been completely transformed; no longer are they merely considered to be simplistic communication tools that allow physicians and patients to interact. In fact, these web based portals have come a long way to become a multi-purpose solution for patients. While EMR and practice management systems are meant to facilitate physicians on both clinical and administrative workflow management respectively, patient portals are programmed to provide patients with details regarding their entire clinical journey.

“Once the clinical and non-clinical procedures are completed, all information related to the patient in made available on the patient portal. Patients can simply login and view it online or even download it if they want. This has actually helped abate the gaps that existed in ensuring better care connectivity”, says a New Hampshire based physician.

Let’s talk about each of the clinical, administrative, and financial aspects individually. Patient portals enable patients to instantaneously access their lab results and the details of other treatments that the individual has undergone. This allows them to generate queries about their concerns and even verify the treatment details and get educated on a particular test or procedure. In a nutshell, patients have the liberty to access their health records from anywhere at any time. Hence, it would not be absurd to say that patients have an option to review their clinical summaries without having to visit their physicians in person.

“I consider patient portals to be one of the many means through which care connectivity is improving. Besides providing basic health related information, physicians also help patients get educated on various diseases and treatments”, says a Nebraska based health IT consultant.

Today, realizing that time is of essence, established vendors have provided patients with the option to streamline their administrative tasks on their end through patient portals. The finest portals allow patients to schedule appointments while sitting at home, without making prolonged phone calls, requesting prescription refills, fill in their medical histories, demographics etc before they visit the provider. Patient portals also provide physicians with their billing details. From providing the insurance details to co-pays, patient portals provide an analysis of all the major as well as minor financial details to the patients – allowing them to verify if the basis of bill generations is legitimate or not.

Therefore, one can easily establish that patient portals have become all-in-one solutions for patients. And with the passage of time, health IT would have a lot more to bring to the table.


Patient Portal – Is it Any Good For Patients?

Besides improving the quality of care, manufacturing dedicated tools for every member within the healthcare industry is another prolific effort made by health IT vendors, such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Patient Portals. While the former is programmed to help physicians document clinical operations with precision, the latter is designed to help patients improve their health management. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that both applications have helped maintain better care connectivity.

“The healthcare circle consists of two parties; the physicians and patients. It is important to facilitate both parties to ensure a better, sustainable healthcare system. EMRs have helped physicians provide quality healthcare to patients, whilst patient portals have allowed patients to experience completely new, yet improved, healthcare management procedures”, says an Alaska based health IT consultant.

Most physicians probably still remember how tiresome it used to be when they had to manually document patient encounters. On top of that, realizing that they had a long list of patients to examine, managing the documentation process became even more stressful – eventually affecting their productivity. EMR turned out to be a game changing player for all physicians. It takes no more than a few seconds for physicians to document patient encounters and manage all the relevant information. Today, EMRs that come with the latest point and click technology even save physicians from manually constructing long sentences; all they have to do is just click as the EMR does that rest.

Similarly, the advent of patient portals simplified life for the patients. The agitation associated with making long phone calls or walking in to the physician’s practice for merely scheduling an appointment or requesting order refills has been completely eliminated with the use of patient portals. Patients can login to the online portal and stay connected with their physicians from anywhere across the globe. No longer do they have to incur such superfluous costs along with the hassle of managing paper based test results and health records. Patient portals allow patients to either view online or download their health information whenever they want. Given the importance of better care connectivity, even the government encourages physicians to allow patients instant access to their health records.