Ultimate Guide to Patient Portal Development

Key Takeaways

  • Patient portal development ensures epidemiologic safety, and patient care, and reduces human errors. It also streamlines workflow and makes healthcare accessible for patients.
  • To make the most out of the patient portal, consider integrating systems such as EHR, glucose monitors, telehealth apps, fitness trackers, and more. EHR integration prioritizes the interoperability of third-party applications over everything else.
  • The cost of patient portal development depends on certain criteria such as development team, technology resources used and integrated, and time invested in patient portal software 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 such shift that has heralded a novel era of patient engagement in the healthcare industry.

According to a report published by Chime, 83 percent of 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 in 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 profiles, payments, etc.) at any given time. The goal of developing patient portal software is to keep patients engaged, increase health literacy, and build communication between healthcare providers and patients.

The patient portal is an effective solution to save effort and time while delivering healthcare services. Developing a custom patient portal software is an ideal choice as it offers a range of features and 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 (Electronic Medical Records), RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring), 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 (Protected Health Information) 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 into 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 it’s driven by a simpler software version. To make user-friendly portals and to avert the frustration with the usage of complex integrated patient portals, standalone portals were developed.

Information Managed by Patient Portal Software

Patient portal software is built to streamline workflow and make healthcare accessible for patients. The type of information managed by patient portal software is:

  • Medical appointment scheduling and patient visit history
  • Geographic and contact information of healthcare facilities
  • Business hours of healthcare providers and clinics
  • Immunization certificates and plans
  • Medication refills, e-prescriptions, and plans
  • Allergies data
  • Laboratory results
  • Insurance plans, claims, and healthcare requests
  • Secure data sharing and patient-provider messaging
  • Billing and payment management
  • Personal data: types, electronic health records, etc.
  • Educational resources

Impact of Patient Portal on Healthcare Organizations

1. Minimal Human Error

Patient portal software reduces human errors by automating medical data management and administrative tasks. Healthcare staff no longer have to write patients’ information and fill out their forms. It can all be done by patients via patient portal software. It also minimized human errors by ensuring an optimized medical billing process.

2. Better Epidemiologic Safety

Medical applications such as patient portal software help patients to manage their issues online, thus ensuring epidemiologic safety. They can track their blood pressure, oxygen content, heart rate, and many other parameters from the safety of their home. Also, healthcare facilities have better control over contagious infections due to decreased traffic.

3. Enhanced Patient Care

Patients can get annoyed by long waiting hours and freeing up time for appointments. So, medical portals allow them to address these issues by offering remote care services via portals. It increases patient engagement as they actively participate in scheduling appointments online, tracking their health, getting prescription refills, and eliminating transportation costs.

Popular Features to Incorporate in Patient Portal Software Development

1. Appointment Scheduler

Online appointment scheduling improves care coordination. A part of patient treatment and recovery is organizing and scheduling appointments. It’s more efficient to look at a calendar and book a date than call a clinic/hospital to find a convenient time for an appointment.

A patient portal scheduler eliminates confusion in appointment scheduling and allows healthcare providers to see patients are per their convenience. The appointment scheduler can link patient records including insurance data, treatment history, and other records.

Direct scheduling via the 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:

  • Patient health history
  • Demographic data
  • Contact information
  • Health coverage
  • Patient online booking or referral

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

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

3. Patient Profiles

The patient profile helps healthcare providers to understand their patients better and gives a bird-eye view of patient history. Further, the 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 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability 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 health data ameliorates patient outcomes through predictive analysis. Data management allows providers to take preventive care measures and render diagnoses as per medical data.

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

5. Secured Payment

Mobile or online payment is gaining traction in the healthcare sector. Patients are expecting convenient modes of payment options. Online payments allow 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 providers.

6. Compliance Regulations

To share ePHI between healthcare providers and 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 breaches.

Loss of medical data exposes crucial patient information such as healthcare history, demographics, contact information, and more, thus jeopardizing patients’ security. A HIPAA-compliant 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 for the organization. Charges can range between $100 – $200 per incident to $1.5 million.

7. Third-Party Integrations

To make the most out of the patient portal, consider integrating systems such as EHR, glucose monitors, telehealth apps, fitness trackers, and more. EHR integration prioritizes the 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 interfaces 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 are all available in the EMR/EHR and telehealth-integrated systems.

8. Educational Resources

Adding useful material to patient portals helps to ameliorate the 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 relationships and builds trust.

With any type of educational resources, consider covering:

  • What patients need to do if a problem occurs
  • When patients can expect results
  • Medical warning signs to be watched out
  • Who patients can contact for concerns

Reliable, easy, and credible resources help 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.

9. Prescription Management

E-prescribing allows healthcare providers to send accurate, error-free, and understandable prescriptions to the patient’s nearest pharmacy. E-prescribing ensures patient safety and prevents pharmacists from giving the wrong medication.

Death, allergies, disabilities, and permanent body damage are some of the effects caused due to incorrect medication. So, to avert such situations, e-prescribing is a plausible solution.

10. Chatbots and Chats

Chatbots help to enhance patient portals by assisting in payments, offering status conditions of their claims, and helping with patient triage. It automates tasks such as appointment requests and reminders, and medication refill alerts. Overall, chats and chatbots are trained to provide a personalized experience to patients and address several issues and questions asked by providers and patients.

11. Encrypted Messaging

Encrypted messaging ensures end-to-end secure access to data exchanged between patients and healthcare providers. Files can be easily shared by maintaining the privacy and security of patients, thus adhering to HIPAA compliance regulations too. Secure messaging prevents medical data leaks, which can further lead to fraud and scams.

Getting Started With Patient Portal Development

1. Partnering With a Medical Software Development Company

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

  • Cross-platform features and patient connectivity
  • Scalability
  • Secure patient data exchange and regulation
  • Data encryption
  • Authorized access
  • Compliance standards: HIPAA, HITRUST
  • SSL + HTTPS data protection
  • 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 cut expenses for small medical facilities or clinics, and outsourcing provides experienced and skilled patient portal developers.

2. Determining Requirements of Patient Portal

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

  • List of functions to include in a patient portal
  • Define platforms’ configuration and backend requirements; deployment on the cloud or a dedicated server.
  • Determine between a front-end solution for an existing system or built as a standalone solution.
  • 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 then prototyping can –

  • Save money and time
  • Be a useful reference for developers
  • Test and show the concept to the target users
  • Serve as documentation for the project
  • Generate better ideas with the development team.

The UX/UI designs are created per the ADA guidelines, and in a way that all patients can access patient portals in a manner that suits their needs. All UI factors such as color, typography, buttons, and tone are 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 the digital experience appealing and accessible for all users irrespective of screen size, internet speed, and patient ability.

4. Integration and Development

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

Agile methodology and DevOps (a popular method in today’s time) are used for development. Agile allows us 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 one to store patient data and can access it from anywhere. HIPAA compliance is a must-have security practice within the patient portal. Remember to exclude HIPAA-related data from emails, notifications, and other forms 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 the patient portal in the market is an enjoyable part as it’s uploaded on Google Play or Apple Play Store if it’s a mobile application, or deployed on a 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 them.

Cost of Patient Portal Development

The cost of patient portal development depends on certain criteria such as development team, technology resources used and integrated, and time invested in patient portal software development. Additionally, custom patient portal development can significantly affect pricing.

1. Development Team

The development team can either be in-house or outsourced. Small to medium-sized healthcare companies prefer to outsource IT services, the same can be for clinics and hospitals (who outsource healthcare software development). An in-house team is expensive compared to IT outsourcing. The reasons are extra money spent on payroll, company benefits, medical, etc., outsourcing cuts down these expenses.

Apart from this, a development team consists of two to three developers, a QA specialist, and a project manager. The cost of healthcare IT sourcing is around $3000 to $ 4000 per month, and the yearly wage of an in-house developer runs as high as $8000 per month. Moreover, freelance programmers for three months will charge around $70,000 to $80,000.

2. Duration of Project

Patient portal software development takes around three to six months. It can be built in as less as 67 hours and as much as 267 hours. The timeline for software development depends on the complications of the application, features involved, functionalities, integrations, bug fixes, etc. The longer it takes to build a patient portal, the more money it will cost.

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 industry standards.