- Online appointment scheduling is a convenient patient portal feature for young people. A survey reports that younger generations are more likely to use online appointment scheduling for healthcare check-ups.
- E-prescribing is a must-have patient portal feature as it prevents medication errors, that can lead to hospitalization, death, and disabilities.
- A poll reported that automated appointment reminders result in higher revenue, a low no-show rate, and fewer unfilled appointments.
A well-developed patient portal software simplifies the patient’s access to healthcare data. With varied patient portal features, patients and doctors can easily track medical history, get instant lab results, and make payments instantly.
A survey states that individuals who were encouraged by their healthcare provider to use the patient portal, utilized it at higher rates as compared to those who weren’t encouraged. Hence, to maximize the use of the patient portal system, care providers have to take a strong initiative.
Patients can make use of patient portal features and assure a positive experience, along with enhanced satisfaction. Let’s look at some of the key patient portals features that you need to consider when partnering with healthcare software developers and getting custom software developed for your practice.
13 Key Patient Portal Features
1. Online Appointment Scheduling
According to the Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey, younger generations are more likely to choose a medical provider who offers flexible bookings, cancellations, or changes in appointments online.
Online appointment scheduling is convenient for the younger lot whose lives are busy. On the other hand, the appointment scheduling feature is beneficial for the elderly or the geriatric population who are unable to move and find it hard to travel. Furthermore, this patient portal feature ensures excellent patient experience by avoiding delays in care, which is a common reason for frustration.
Appointment bookings eliminate long waiting hours in the clinic and alleviate administrative burdens. Patient scheduling decreases the chances of no-shows and cancellations and helps physicians to manage their routines effectively without having to waste their time.
As per the 2022 MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) report, 49 percent of the medical groups stated that patient no-shows rates increased in 2021, and 12 percent reported that no-show rates decreased. The rise in no-shows was due to long wait times after scheduling and a lack of transportation for appointments.
The patient portal software is designed to work 24/7, hence automated appointment scheduling feature works even after business hours. This allows patients to book at any time; in the early hours of the day or late at night.
2. Secure Messaging
Secure electronic messaging plays a crucial role in enhancing patient access to care and ameliorating communication with healthcare providers. Hence, developers can consider including this patient portal feature.
Secured messaging allows healthcare professionals and patients to:
- Manage routine health problems
- Ask and address medical concerns
- Monitor patients’ conditions in real-time
- Coordinate patient visits
Patient portal software is safeguarded with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules, hence patients and doctors can message each other without having to worry about cybercrime.
3. E-Prescription and Refills
E-prescribing is a basic foundation of meaningful use (MU). Stage 1 of MU requires that 40 percent of prescriptions be sent electronically. Whereas stage 2 of MU requires that more than 50 percent be sent electronically, and stage 3 requires that 80 percent of prescriptions be sent electronically.
Electronic prescriptions eliminate drug errors and give both pharmacists and physician access to patients’ prescription histories. This reduces the chances of wrong drug prescriptions. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) receives more than 100,000 US reports every year which are associated with a suspected medication errors.
Harmful effects of medication errors include death, life-threatening situations, disability, birth defect, and hospitalization. Apart from this, e-prescription speeds up the medication reconciliation process and clinicians no longer have to manually reconcile the medication list.
Additionally, e-prescription reminds patients about refills and ensures that they get their medicine refilled on time. Physicians can access all of the patient’s allergies and previously prescribed drugs through e-prescribing and triggers alerts if any newly prescribed drug can be a threat.
4. Payment Management
The payment feature can either be integrated or developed from scratch, choice depends on the budget and patient portal system requirements. Payment management assures adherence to HIPAA compliance and allows seamless digital transfers.
With the payment feature, admin staff spends less time manually reconciling all payment data. This gives them time to focus on the tasks to improve the patient experience.
The payment management feature allows healthcare staff to access all payment data from one centralized location and generate invoices accordingly. Additionally, patients can securely save their card details for future remote payments.
5. Access to Medical Records
The privacy rule of HIPAA allows patients to inspect, receive, and review a copy of medical and billing records that are held by care providers and health plans. The rule states that only the patient or patient’s representative has the right to access medical records.
A healthcare provider can send copies of records to another provider for treatment purposes, but only with prior permission from the concerned patient. Additionally, a provider cannot deny a copy of medical records and there’s no need to pay for it.
Apart from this, providers don’t disclose psychotherapy notes without a patient’s authorization. Healthcare software developers need to be aware of these rules before incorporating the medical records feature in the patient portal system.
6. Educational Content
Educational content helps to close the healthcare literacy gap among patients and allows healthcare professionals to stay updated about the medical sector.
Educational resources can be generic or specific, however, a hospital or clinic wishes to portray. Some of the examples of educational content are autoimmune diseases and their symptoms, Covid updates, recent developments in the field of medicine, and so on.
The Akron Children’s Hospital, based in Ohio provides educational content on numerous topics such as ways to avoid sports injuries, acne, the endocrine system, and so on. Consider emailing tailored content to specific patients who are suffering from certain diseases. This boosts closeness with care providers and enhances patient engagement as well.
7. Digital Registration Forms and Check-Ins
Digital registration forms save admin staff from manually entering patient data into the patient management system (PMS). Patients can easily fill out their details from the comfort of their homes.
Online registration minimizes the chances of clerical errors which can occur during manual form filling, as it’s often difficult to read handwritten documents. Through a built-in validation function, the digital registration feature can detect if any patient has filled in an incomplete email or phone number.
Digital check-ins eliminate the need to wait for hours and optimize patient flow in hospitals and clinics. This way providers can spend adequate time with patients.
8. Connect to Medical IoT Devices
Patients are making use of wearables, wellness apps, and other medical IoT devices to manage their health. By including the medical IoT devices feature in the patient portal, people can easily connect their devices to make the most out of it.
Medical IoT devices allow patients to track their wellness and health in a single place. This way, even healthcare providers can access patients’ data. Patients who suffer from chronic illness can benefit from this feature.
Wearables that monitor blood sugar levels and BP helps clinicians to track the health of chronic patients. Monitoring via medical IoT devices provides real-time data and improves the response time of doctors.
9. Personal Information Management
This feature allows patients to update, view, change, or delete their personal information. Information that needs to be changed occasionally includes:
- Email address
- Phone number
- Marital status
- Last name
- Emergency contact details
- Insurance coverage plans
Updated contact information assures that details aren’t sent to the wrong person and this saves hospitals from a HIPAA privacy breach. Access to personal patient data makes it easier for providers to connect with their patients and send them reminders about appointments and medications.
According to the 2019 MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) stat poll, respondents stated that automated appointment reminders resulted in higher revenue, low no-show rate, fewer unfilled appointments, and gave more time to staff.
Healthcare organizations that communicate with patients via automated reminders are efficient and have improved patient compliance. The front desk staff is busy with patient questions, intake forms, registrations, checking patients in, and so on.
At the end of the day, they’re overwhelmed and can feel burnout. Hence, automated reminders or alerts relieve staff from extra duties to avert these situations.
11. Lab Test Results Access
This feature allows patients to easily view their lab test results in real time. Clinicians can upload results immediately on the patient portal, so users can view them. Instant access to lab results allows patients to get a grasp of their health conditions as soon as possible, thus allowing them to take instant action.
Moreover, this patient portal feature allows clinicians to promptly answer any customer or provider queries. Digital lab test results prevent duplication of tests and patient documents.
The concerned lab is notified that samples are on the way and clinicians can check whether the samples are correct via this feature.
12. Sign-Up and Login
This is one of the key patient portal features, as without this the portal is just like any other system with a login and logout button.
A patient portal system must have strong authentication and security for sign-ins. This is necessary to protect vital ePHI (Protected Health Information) and to adhere to HIPAA rules. Registration and entry are restricted to a few clicks.
Both patient and provider dashboard is included in the patient portal system. The features and functions of both patient and doctor are the same, some may be exceptions.
A dashboard includes all the above-mentioned features: e-prescribing, access to medical records, appointment scheduling, registration and check-ins, payments, and so on.
These were the 13 patient portal features that healthcare developers can consider incorporating. If you’re looking to develop a patient portal system for your medical facility, then just get in touch with Arkenea, a leading healthcare software development company with over 10 years of experience in the field.
Our team of expert healthcare developers will guide you and provide you with a top-class patient portal system that suits your organization.