The Top Benefits of a Patient | Doctor Portal
Today's connected and busy medical practices can benefit greatly by adopting a patient portal or combined patient and doctor portal. The right software, system integration and security allows any practice to create one portal that benefits patients, physicians and other medical and administrative staff. External doctors can sign in and provide second opinions, consult the patient’s EHR, provide specialist advice and send other treatment information. The patient and their family can sign up and review the details of complex diagnoses, lab tests and treatments. Each type of portal user can access only authorized information while enjoying the full protection of a HIPAA-compliant system.
Patient and physician adoption of patient and doctor portals and personal health records is growing steadily according to a study published in “The American Journal of Managed Care.” In fact, adoption rates are increasing exponentially, although socioeconomic status does affect how quickly demographic groups start using personal health records and portals.  Software integration and custom development are integral aspects of creating a useful, secure patient- and doctor-friendly portal. Research shows that integration of a medical practice's technology infrastructure surpasses out-of-the-box software solutions for many reasons.  These include more efficient billing, streamlined internal systems, greater patient use and higher reimbursement rates. A few examples of these internal efficiencies include:
- Integration and custom development can generate seamless communications between internal systems and external connections. All data are automatically updated throughout the systems, which helps to prevent data-entry errors, billing mistakes, privacy breaches and prescription-medication oversights.
- Links between the billing portal and records where documentation is stored make it easier to report information to government agencies and insurance companies. Patients who frequently cancel their appointments on certain times of the week or month leave a trail of their activities that can be used for better scheduling. Other internal insights include monitoring physician performance to see which doctors bill more revenue so that other staff doctors can follow their approaches for ordering tests, scheduling appointments and generating higher billables.
Increased Income and Cash Flow for the Practice
- Medical practices can reduce their use of paper records, cut staff time spent on answering routine questions and ensure greater accuracy when filing for reimbursement. A billing portal also reduces the staff time needed to consult records and encourages patients to pay their bills faster online. Different billing systems between collaborating practices can also delay or lower any authorized funds, and an integrated system updates each record in ways that match the system’s billing protocol.
- Using one database for all office procedures and patient interactions is more efficient. Staff members and physicians won’t need to quit one program and boot up another every time they need to consult another program or reference.
- Some insurance claims--such as workers’ compensation--require a complex chain of documentation, which often requires administrators to jump through hoops and cut through red tape to claim reimbursement. An integrated system makes it easy to find all relevant documents and send them to patients, agencies and insurance companies.
The Pros and Cons of Portal Adoption
The pros and cons of patient portal adoption depend equally on how useful the portal is for physicians, patients, outside medical associates and office staff. Creating a portal won’t provide the greatest possible access and efficiency unless the portal can communicate seamlessly with patient records and the medical practice’s software applications and resources. That means connecting with accounting and billing information, CRM software, affiliated labs and service-provider partners. Integrating systems into a robust API layer adds a layer of security beyond the firewalls to comply with HIPAA. Patients, staff and third parties can communicate securely while many tasks of the medical practice are streamlined, prioritized and accelerated.
Surveys show that portals are especially beneficial for those with serious conditions and chronic illnesses, and Kaiser Permanente found that online patient engagement improved by 10 percent among portal users.  The cons of portals include security concerns, challenges to demonstrate “meaningful use” for maximum Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement and difficulties to encourage some patients--especially those in the lower socioeconomic classes--to log in and use portals or access their health records.
Top Benefits of Customized Portals for Medical Practices
Physicians can use the doctor portal to collaborate with specialists, share information confidentially, peruse lab reports and improve collaboration between healthcare providers. Patients who use modern health trackers can get their results integrated into their charts so that their doctors can monitor conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Other top benefits of portals, EHRs and integrated software include:
- Improving patient care and encouraging patients to manage their health more proactively
- Providing 24-hour access to critical health information
- Enabling patients and physicians to send secure communications under the rules of HIPAA compliant websites
- Speeding medical practice workflow by streamlining and accelerating doctor/patient/office communications
- Increasing patient loyalty by engaging patients more actively
- Integrating patient messages into their charts to prevent their doctors from forgetting key patient concerns
- Streamlining how practices can meet “meaningful use” requirements by providing educational resources, access to personal health records, lab-test results, current medication information and treatment summaries
- Sending appointment reminders to patients
- Sharing immunization records
- Reducing appointment “no-shows”
- Allowing patients and doctors to get information from their mobile devices
- Automating tasks such as preregistration
Patient Portals Deliver More Useful Results than Decision-Makers Realize
The list of benefits and customized applications is almost unlimited when medical practices enlist an experienced developer to integrate their EHR system. The integrated patient, physician and billing portal makes it easy to schedule or cancel appointments, check test results, pay bills and communicate. The easier the portal is to use and the more information that’s available online, the more patients will sign up and use this extraordinary medical resource. Practices won’t have to worry much about meeting Medicaid and Medicare “meaningful use” strictures that require a certain number of patients to view, download and transmit their health data.
Medical practices can use an integrated portal system to automate billing, accept payments, schedule appointments automatically, provide answers to common patient questions and provide educational resources that encourage patients to “own” better health care practices. An integrated doctor portal allows physicians to communicate, share records, monitor patient health more closely and send messages to 5 percent or more their patients, which is one of the requirements for receiving maximum reimbursement under current “meaningful use” guidelines. 
HIPAA Compliance and Custom Development
Choosing the right development partner helps to ensure getting the most out of a portal system. The consequences of not adhering to HIPAA regulations can be severe, so it’s essential that custom development protects sensitive patient information. An experienced vendor uses a robust API layer where the endpoints connect, and custom development can engineer role-based authentication using an LDAP protocol for patients, physicians, office staff and third-party associates. The human touch is also an important consideration, so choose a developer that’s willing to train your staff, collaborate with your IT department and provide the critical user-friendly applications that will ensure greater “meaningful use” for all practice stakeholders.
Launch Your Portal with Confidence
In today’s digital marketplace, user engagement is critical regardless of whether you're selling medical products, providing health care services or selling wholesale or retail. Medical practices have an increased standard of care for safeguarding patient privacy while providing accurate electronic health records online. Integrating your practice’s ERP and EHR software with custom-designed portals can reduce healthcare costs, foster greater patient engagement and streamline internal operations. Improving your technology is the critical first step because the demands will only grow more complex, and integration makes it easy to expand, upgrade and add new applications.
 Patientengagementhit.com: Patient Portal, PHR Adoption Varies Along Socioeconomic Lines
 Gopractice.kareo.com: How Important Is EHR and Billing System Integration for Medical Practices?
 Patientengagementhit.com: What are the Top Pros and Cons of Adopting Patient Portals?
 Medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com: Patient portals: Essential, but underused by physicians