A patient portal is a secure, password-protected application-like dashboard that allows patients to view their medical records and communicate with their doctors.
As the name suggests, it’s a portal between you and your patients that keeps your practice HIPAA-compliant while also allowing you to automate tedious tasks for better productivity. The patient portal market, which was at $3.04 billion in 2021, is expected to reach $7.10 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 19.1%.
This article will outline seven benefits of patient portals that will help you increase revenue and enhance patient engagement, all while boosting the quality of care you provide. So let’s get started.
What Is a Patient Portal?
A patient portal is a secure online tool that allows patients to access their medical information. It can also allow them to communicate with your practice, schedule appointments, and prescribe refills.
Think of the patient portal as a self-service kiosk. It will have all the information that a patient might ever need. Hence, they can use it to access any information or service they need as and when they like.
This flexibility of self-service is what attracts more patients. Hence, most healthcare executives are investing in patient portal software. According to a recent survey, patient portals and applications are the top focus for 77% of executives.
The patient portal is mostly a part of management software. As a mental health practitioner, having practice management software with a patient portal is essential for efficiency and enhanced care.
You can rely on therapist practice management software with additional features besides the patient portal. These features include appointment scheduling, billing and insurance, document management, third-party integrations, and more.
Keep Your Practice HIPAA-Compliant
HIPAA compliance is integral to mental health therapy, and a patient portal can help you keep your practice compliant. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, enacted in 1996 to protect the privacy of health information.
With more than 1,300 pages of regulations that must be followed to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations, it’s easy to get lost in all the details. The easiest way to stay on top of what needs your attention is by using technology to automatically alert you when something changes or goes wrong with your account.
Abiding by HIPAA is vital for continuously running your mental health practice. The reason is that not abiding by the regulations can lead to data breaches that can lead to a complete shutdown of your practice due to its high costs. According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach in the USA is $9.44 million.
Automate Tedious Tasks for Better Productivity
Many tedious tasks are involved in managing your mental health practice, including scheduling appointments and sending reminders. Automating these tasks saves time for more important things like building relationships with clients and growing your business.
Many patient portal services allow you to use templates to speed up creating appointments or reminders. It’s also easier to make fewer mistakes this way because templates have less room for error.
Moreover, the patients will get alerts for their appointments, meaning they won’t miss them. This can be very helpful for patients in a scenario where many patients miss their mental health appointments and have to reschedule them.
Securely Communicate With Patients
The ability to communicate with patients is a crucial part of the mental health experience. As a therapist, you want to be able to offer your patients as many resources as possible, including timely responses to questions and concerns.
This can be particularly challenging in practices where many staff members are helping patients remotely. However, patient portals make it easier for everyone involved in their care to stay connected and up-to-date on any changes that may occur throughout treatment.
In addition to being able to exchange messages about appointments, test results, and more through this channel, some platforms even allow clinicians who aren’t directly involved with an individual’s care to still gain access if there’s some reason why they might need it. This provides greater flexibility while maintaining security measures like two-factor authentication or single sign-on (SSO).
Many patients who had access to patient portals used them for secure communication with their healthcare providers. According to an ONC report, around six in ten patients used portals for communication. However, the sad part is that many people don’t have access to a patient portal. According to a recent study, one-third of the patients who currently don’t have access to a patient portal would use it if they had access.
Enhance Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is key to boosting patient loyalty and improving the quality of care. A modern patient portal can help you achieve this by giving patients access to their health records, communicating with doctors and other healthcare providers, and providing relevant information about their treatment plans.
Patient engagement is key to improving patient experience and satisfaction, which are important metrics for clinical outcomes and financial performance. Patients can schedule appointments online or request refills from their home computer or smartphone, significantly reducing the likelihood of forgetting something essential or missing an appointment altogether.
This will save your practice time and money if you’re not paying staff members overtime because they have more work than usual due to missed appointments.
You can also use a patient portal for communication purposes. For example, sending test results directly to the inbox of concerned parents, so there’s no need for phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
Another way portals help improve clinical outcomes is through their ability to allow patients to be proactive in their health management. For instance, the ONC study mentioned above also states that about one-third of patient portal users went proactive and downloaded their medical records from the portal in 2020. This can also help patients improve their treatment results. For example, a patient can check his or her mental health records and find data that may indicate what triggered the problems and can avoid them.
In summary, patient portals are increasingly important in the healthcare landscape. As they become more prevalent, they will provide your practice with valuable resources and capabilities that can help you improve patient care and enhance your patients’ experience.
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