Patient portals for providers provide access to patients’ personal health information electronically, allowing physicians and other health care providers to focus on providing quality care to their patients.
When integrated with an Electronic Health Record (EHR), patients have immediate access to their medical records, lab results, images, relevant reference information and other shared documents.Patients are able to communicate electronically with providers, pay bills, schedule appointments, and refill prescriptions through the portal.
A growing number of providers with EHR’s are adopting patient portals to share records electronically with patients and other providers in the health care network. In addition to the advantages to the patient, portals benefit physicians, nurses and administrative staff, increasing the overall workflow and productivity of any healthcare practice.
Benefits to Physicians
Patient portals allow physicians to share information and reference material electronically to patients and between providers. Streamlining the exchange of information increases productivity and workflow by giving all providers and specialists instant access to patient information, allowing the healthcare team to focus on patient care rather than waiting for referral information and results.
Physicians are able to answer non emergency patient questions pertaining to their care and treatment or general health questions electronically as time allows, eliminating telephone interruptions and missed calls. Additionally, at the time of the appointment, providers have instant electronic access to a patient’s appointment history and file, reducing the time spent looking through paper records.
Benefits to Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners typically spend a considerable amount of time making and returning phone calls to patients regarding lab results, prescription refill requests and other information exchanges. With a patient portal, patients are able to access their lab results, send refill requests electronically, ask questions and obtain necessary information. This reduces the amount of time spent on the phone, increasing productivity and overall workflow.
Benefits to Administrative Staff
Administrative staff duties typically include making appointment reminders, rescheduling missed appointments, printing invoices and billing notifications, mailing records requests, faxing referral information and other exchanges of information requests. Patient portals drastically reduce the time and money spent on making phone calls, printing, copying, faxing and mailing by streamlining basic tasks and patient information through the patient portal.
Through a portal, both patients and providers can access the most upto-date patient information in real time. Including an accurate health history and current medication list. A portal built on a data repository captures all information about a patient’s health care regardless of setting, making it especially valuable for a patient that sees physicians in multiple practices.
A portal also opens the lines of communication and expedites information sharing. Take the case of test results, for example. A portal can eliminate an average of 4.2 phone calls typically required to relay lab results to the patient. This streamlined, more direct communication approach not only ensures faster delivery of information, it can also reduce some of the stress that patients experience as they wait for a call.
Patients are more likely to ask questions via the portal because it offers private and direct communication with the physician. This secure exchange enables the patient to feel comfortable to ask difficult and sometimes embarrassing questions, whereas the patient may refrain if he or she has to go through a nurse first. These candid questions, offer better insight into the patient’s concerns, allowing the provider to be more responsive to the patient’s individual needs.
Improving communication and customer service
Healthcare providers often have to do more with less. With this in mind, portals can help providers more efficiently receive and share patient information without involving several employees. For example, patients can make appointments, request refills, see lab results or ask a question at their convenience via the portal.
They do not have to call and wait to speak with the nurse or leave a callback number. Consequently, the portal contributes to smoother patient checkin and checkout processes and better communication as staff are not distracted with phone calls. Invariably, patient satisfaction increases when staff are more attentive to the patient standing in front of them.
By eliminating manual processes for appointments, refills, test results or medical record sharing, the portal improves workflows. For instance, it replaces the inefficient process of staff locating, copying and faxing a report to another provider.
With a portal, the patient has more ownership of his or her health record and can easily share test results with other providers. Everyone benefits as streamlined efficiencies facilitate coordinated care, reduce unnecessary duplication and free administrative staff for other duties.
The key to success with any patient portal is strong patient participation. Adoption is dramatically enhanced when a physician clearly communicates with patients that this is the preferred communication method of the practice. As well as setting the expectation for patient participation.
Small practices can realize success when they take a twofold approach to engagement: (1) Establish a portal account for every patient before they leave the office. (2) Engage them through regular use.
Consumers rely on technology to communicate and are looking to their physicians to do the same. Portal technology empowers a small practice to improve communication, enhance efficiency and streamline workflows, which allows a provider to focus on delivering optimal patient care.
Today’s healthcare payer must balance high levels of clinical care with operational efficiency to remain viable, limited resources and competing priorities, making it challenging to deliver top-notch care at the lowest cost. However, by using technology to enhance communication and leverage patient information, a small practice can elevate patient care, drive efficiency and enhance patient satisfaction.
For more information on setting up a patient portal, contact us at Expert Business Consulting today and let us help you get started.