Ultimate Guide to Patient Portal Development

A monumental shift in the healthcare sector is the adoption of digital health strategies to transform care and treatment. Patient portal development is one of such shifts that has heralded a novel era of patient engagement in the healthcare industry.

According to a report published by Chime, 83 percent of the acute care organizations stated high use of patient portals by users in 2021, as compared to 74 percent in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic is a key reason for the surge of patient portal usage in today’s time.

A patient portal is a mobile or web based solution that offers access to healthcare and medical data (health records, personal profile, payments, etc.) at any given time. The goal of developing a patient portal is to keep patients engaged, increase health literacy, and build communication between healthcare providers and patients.

Patient portal is an effective solution to save effort and time while delivering healthcare services. Developing a custom patient portal is an ideal choice as it offers a range of features, design choices, and gives a personal touch.

Types of Patient Portals

1. Integrated Patient Portal

Integrated patient portals are created for incorporating healthcare systems such as EHR/EMR, RPM, or telemedicine. By integrating patient portals with healthcare systems, the efficiency of practice increases and saves money on developing a portal with these features.

An integrated patient portal connects with the ePHI of the healthcare organization, and renders services. Building and deploying an integrated portal demands money, time, and resources, however the outcome of it is improved patient experience.

2. Standalone Patient Portal

As compared to an integrated patient portal, a standalone portal functions without an external system/software. An EHR system or any other software is integrated manually in a standalone patient portal. To integrate manually, consider collaborating with third-party software development vendors.

A standalone patient portal requires less time and investment as its driven by a simpler software version. To make user-friendly portals and to avert the frustration with the usage of complex integrated patient portal, standalone portals were developed.

Popular Features to Incorporate in Patient Portal Development

1. Appointment Scheduler

Online appointment scheduling improves care coordination. A part of patient treatment and recovery is being able to organize and schedule appointments. Its more efficient to to look at a calendar and book a date, than calling clinic/hospital to find a convenient time for an appointment.

A patient portal scheduler eliminates confusion on appointment scheduling, and allows healthcare providers to see patients are per their convenience. Appointment scheduler has the ability to link patient records including insurance data, treatment history, and other records.

Direct scheduling via patient portal aids practice efficiency and operations and reduces unnecessary office visits.

2. Patient Registration

Ensure to offer an easy sign-in process for the patients. A significant amount of preliminary information is collected seamlessly, which includes –

a. Patient health history

b. Demographic data

c. Contact information

d. Health coverage

e. Patient online booking or referral

If handled incorrectly, then this can lead to ongoing issues – data leak; thus preventing these patients seeking care from a facility that’s disorganized, chaotic, and has no security standards in place.

Patient information in stored in their personal profiles, which can be accessed with multi-step authentication and biometrics.

3. Patient Profiles

Patient profile helps healthcare providers to understand their patients better, and gives a bird-eye view on patient history. Further, patient profile feature facilitates data protection and access rights.

Every patient profile is accessible to patients for updating and editing data as mandated under the HIPAA Act.

4. Patient Data Management

This feature allows patients and healthcare providers to access information such as laboratory results, medical insurance, prescription, billing history, etc. Patient data management helps to improve interaction with colleagues and patients.

An abundance of healthcare data ameliorates patient outcome through predictive analysis. Data management allows providers to take preventive care measures and render diagnosis as per medical data.

A bird-eye view on patient data helps to track patient health and provides a complete picture on patient profile.

5. Payment

Mobile or online payment is gaining traction in the healthcare sector. Patients are expecting convenient mode of payment options. Online payments allows patients to self manage their bills and balances.

Consider integrating payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree for secure payments. For custom payment service, collaborate with a software development company that’ll help to realize this function aptly. further, patient portals can be integrated with third-party payment provider.

6. Compliance Regulations

To share ePHI between healthcare providers and to patients, a patient portal is made HIPAA compliant. Compliance ensures that all ePHI is stored, transferred, and viewed securely. Privacy and security regulations of HIPAA assures that patient data is safeguarded from cyberattacks and data breach.

Loss of medical data exposes crucial patient information such as healthcare history, demographics, contact information, and more, thus jeopardizing patients’ security. A HIPAA complaint patient portal requires a healthcare facility to incorporate procedures to verify that the entity or individual seeking access to ePHI is the one claiming it.

Failure to implement HIPAA regulations leads to criminal charges, fines, and penalties to organization. Charges can range between $100 – $200 per incident t0 $1.5 million.

7. Third-Party Integrations

To make the most out of patient portal, consider integrating systems such as EMR, glucose monitor, telehealth apps, fitness trackers, and more. EMR integration prioritizes interoperability of third-party applications over everything else.

For seamless integration on all types of medical systems, there’s a need for API standardization in healthcare. Novel healthcare programming interface such as FHIR API can replace HL7, thus augmenting backward compatibility and decreasing problems related to healthcare API growth.

Furthermore, healthcare practitioners can use third-party integrations to maintain patient information. This can come in handy during live sessions with patients, as medication, prescription, and diagnosis is all available in the EMR/EHR and telehealth integrated systems.

8. Educational Resources

Adding useful material to patient portals helps to ameliorate effectiveness and usability of these portals. Educational resources are a guide to patients that offer certain health actions based on EHR information. Incorporating educational material improves patient-provider relationship and builds trust.

With any type of educational resources, consider covering –

a. What patients need to do if a problem occurs

b. When patients can expect results

c. Medical warning signs to be watched out

d. Who patients can contact for concerns

Reliable, easy, and credible resources helps healthcare professionals to foster trust and respect with patients. Evidence based educational material drives patients’ health literacy and keeps them engaged. Consider using a wide range of educational teaching tools such as podcasts, blogs, videos, charts, or PPTs, to explain concepts.

Getting Started With Patient Portal Development

1. Partnering With a Healthcare Development Company

Consider partnering with an experienced healthcare software development partner. Check for past projects, testimonials, reviews, and skills before finalizing a healthcare development company. Clearly define goals, expectations, and pain points in a partnership. Prepare a checklist of requirements such as –

a. Cross-platform features and patient connectivity

b. Scalability

c. Secure patient data exchange and regulation

d. Data encryption

e. Authorized access

f. Compliance standards – HIPAA, HITRUST

g. SSL+HTTPS data protection

h. Activity log

Ensure to discuss advisory and support structures in advance; discuss strategic outlook, roadblocks, and unforeseen issues as early as possible with the development partner. Outsourcing a healthcare development team helps to cut down expenses for small medical facilities or clinics, plus outsourcing provides experienced and skilled patient portal developers.

2. Determining Requirements of Patient Portal

While determining requirement of patient portal, consider analyzing applications’ peculiarities such as technology stack, features (discussed above), third-party services, and more. Apart from this, evaluate the following –

a. List of functions to include in a patient portal

b. Define platforms’ configuration and backend requirements; deployment on cloud or a dedicated server.

c. Determine between a front-end solution for an existing system or built as a standalone solution.

d. Choose mobile and web technologies needed to develop a patient portal of a specific configuration.

3. Prototyping and UX/UI Designing

Prototyping is an integral part of the designing process because it helps UX designers to showcase the final product function and look. Prototypes are one of the key ways to gather feedback from team members, stakeholders, and users.

Customers interact with the final product and highlight areas that need improvement. The design team iterates before the final product is launched in the market, saving the company both money and time. If done right than prototyping can –

a. Save money and time

b. Be a useful reference for developers

c. Test and show concept on the target users

d. Serve as a documentation for project

e. Generate better ideas with the development team.

The UX/UI designs are created as per the ADA guidance, and in a way that all patients are able to access patient portals in a manner that suits their needs. All UI factors such as color, typography, buttons, and tone is easy-to-grasp for patients with disabilities.

Assure to cater to patient-first experience as it helps to build trust and bond with them. A clear and simple design makes digital experience appealing and accessible for all users irrespective of screen size, internet speed, and patients’ ability.

4. Integration and Development

This is the crucial phase of the development cycle. the development team builds a frontend and backend of the patient portal platform. Sprint cycles are run during the development process. Sprints have two week cadence, so an updated version is released every two weeks.

Agile methodology and DevOps (a popular method in today’s time) is used for the development. Agile allows to tweak requirements as per needs and market changes. During patient portal development, integrate with the existing systems such as CRM, EMR, and CMS. Ensure that the patient portal can easily integrate and sync with the data from EHR and other sources.

Consider integrations with cloud services as it allows to store patient data and can access it from anywhere. HIPAA compliance is a must have security practice within patient portal. Remember to exclude HIPAA-related data from emails, notifications, and other form of communication channels for privacy and security.

5. Test, Release, and Maintenance

Technical experts carry out multiple automated and manual tests to verify products’ operational and functional requirements. This helps to eliminate bugs and other issues with the patient portal.

Testing helps to assess whether the product is ready to be deployed in the market or not. Post testing, releasing patient portal in the market is an enjoyable part as its uploaded on Google Play or Apple Play Store, if its a mobile application, or deployed on healthcare website.

The maintenance part requires developers to add new features as per demands and market needs, update portals, fix issues, and add more security to it.

Need help creating a robust patient portal for your facility or looking for third-party integrations, then look no further, just get in touch with Arkenea today –  an experienced healthcare software development company. We will cater to your requirements and deliver services that match with industry standards.