Patient Portal is a website on which your patients can log in to view their medical records as maintained by your Clinic. This website will be offered by the same company that sells you your Clinic Management. In it, you will find an option to share access to the medical record with the specific patient. Doing so usually ends up in the patient receiving a username and password over email. The patient logs in to the website and gets to see their medical record.
There are a few pre-requisites for Patient Portals to work:
- You need to be maintaining all of your health records, not just prescriptions in an EMR.
- The Clinic Management System needs to be Cloud-based. If you use a desktop-based system, the servers are local to your clinic. Since the servers are not accessible on the internet, the Patients cannot log in to it to access the Patient Portal.
- Your Cloud-based Clinic Management System needs to have the Patient Portal feature built-in. Not all of them do, but the better ones will have this option.
Why should you get Patient Portals enabled for your Clinic:
- Information is an enabler. Letting your Patients view their complete medical records can empower them to better follow care plans, be aware of the areas they need to focus on with regard to their health, and transition some of them from being passive to becoming involved in their healthcare. This can be extremely beneficial when dealing with chronic patients.
- It also makes it easy for the Patients to generate their entire history with a click. Useful when travelling, during hospital admissions or at times of emergencies.
- It can be a source of revenue for you. All of this information is already being recorded by you. You can for a small fee, provide access to the same. It yields no additional work at your end besides billing.
In the developed markets the usage of Patient Portal has gone beyond being vitamins to becoming painkillers. Rather than being used as an optional information display tool, it is now being used to cut waiting times and maximize the use of consulting hours for the Clinicians. Primary as well as Aesthetics and even Ancillary Clinics in US and UK regularly ask us to enable Patient Portal to send out digital Intake Forms to Patients. Let me explain the process in steps:
- Patient schedules an appointment over a phone call
- The Clinic Management System sends out an email to the Patient confirming the appointment, along with a link to a form they need to fill out BEFORE they visit the clinic.
- The patient clicks on the link and is asked for his Patient Portal username and password. After logging in, they are presented with an intake form, or a follow-up form, that has been designed by the Clinic and is specific to the reason for the Patient’s appointment. The patient fills this out from the comfort of his home or from work.
- If the appointment entails any kind of a procedure, consent forms are also presented to the Patient. These too he can sign digitally, or print it out and sign physically.
- As soon as the Patient completes the paperwork in the Patient Portal, the integrated nature of the system updates the Patient’s appointment on the end of the Receptionist, showing that the paperwork is complete.
- When the Patient visits the Clinic on the day of the appointment, any follow-up questions pertaining to the paperwork are answered, and within a few minutes of arrival, the patient is sent for a consultation with the Doctor. It drastically cuts down the waiting time for the Patients and frees resources at the Clinic, to focus on better care and experience rather than on mundane paperwork that can be now done offline using Patient Portals.
This is not at all, Patient Portals are also being used to request and reschedule appointments, do paid telemedicine consultations, send messages and ask for advice from their Doctors and more. With home healthcare devices getting better and better, as internet connectivity becomes reliable, I am of the firm belief that in Tier 1 cities Patient Portals will replace the waiting rooms as the primary source of consultations for a Clinic by 2030.
Ask your Clinic Management Vendor if they have one. If they do, get onto it. If they do not, find out why not. The airbags became a standard for even the smaller hatchbacks in India, so why would you still buy or stick to one which has not kept pace and now is so far behind.