Patient Portals fit in well in the process of enabling providers to meet the Federal Incentive Program guidelines for using certified EHRs. Providers, in order to stay profitable, are always in the lookout for ways to improve their operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve their patient satisfaction. Patient Portals, through the various features it offers, makes it possible for providers to progress towards achieving the aforesaid needs. On the face of it, a Patient Portal might appear like a web-sight. The similarities however end there. It acts as a gateway for patients to medical practices. There are many self-service options available for patients to initiate HIPPA complaint 2-way communication between patients and providers. It results in bringing in a lot of flexibility to the otherwise long drawn and tedious communication processes besides increasing the degree of involvement of patients in their treatment. Providing them with easy access to their records makes the patients feel thoroughly engaged. Over the years and based on feedback received in surveys, it has been found out that patients generally look for portals which are easy to handle – design and functionality wise. Irrespective of the complex workflows which might exist in the background, it is highly critical to offer patients a system which is convenient to use. Psychologically it has a better effect on them. Although portals may vary from one another, the common and important features that it offers include the following:
- Medical History
- Appointment scheduling requests and confirmations
- Patient- Provider communication
- Prescription renewal management
- Laboratory test results notifications
- Access to medical records, history, allergy information
- Specialty referrals
- Electronic payment
- Financial clearance
There are numerous benefits that providers are likely to gain from offering their patients’ access to a well-designed and ease–to-use Patient Portal. For instance they might see a surge in the number of patients getting interested in taking appointments once it is online and is easy to setup. Practices can display relevant information in-terms of slot availability with respect to date and time for various physicians to make it convenient for the interested patients to setup an appointment based on their convenience. It also saves people in the administration department from a lot of mundane activities like having to take calls for setup appointments, sending reminders etc. Patient Portals go a long way in improving accuracy in operations. Rather than running a system where multiple handwritten forms need of be filled up during various stages of a patients visit, which consumes a lot of time and energy, the same can be achieved online and at the patient’s convenience. Information related to medical history, allergies, insurance, demographics – all this can be collated beforehand. Another advantage of doing this online is that it avoids repetition .Digital data once entered can be pulled out whenever needed. Also, it considerably reduces chances of errors because of manual work while entering patient or other relevant encounter details.
Patient Portals provide an excellent platform for collaboration. The referring and consulting physicians can share valuable information with their patients using Patient Portals. Besides, it also allows the referring physicians to keep a track of the progress made by their patients. Electronic transfer of information makes the whole process very fast and conducive without requiring physical proximity amongst the involved parties. Portals eliminate all hurdles related to distribution. Finally a tool like this goes a long way in forging a relationship between providers and physicians which was missing in a traditional setup. Real time access to information at one’s own convenience makes this model more popular among middle aged and elderly people. No more are they required to fetch their laboratories or wait in queue for their visits to their physicians. Regular communication which can happen between them and the physicians also ensures that timely actions can be taken during treatment as and when a need arises. It is essential that healthcare software testing is meticulously done for the patient portals because of the critical situations it addresses.
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