HIPAA eCommerce

HIPAA Test Results On Medical Portals for Patients

Updated  |  4 min read

It’s no surprise that lab results are one of the most sensitive aspects of healthcare people want to keep hidden. While these life-changing results are sometimes delivered by a doctor, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to receive news of vital health information online.

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This comes with its challenges, of course. While face-to-face conversations with doctors can be secured by closing an office door, electronic protected health information (ePHI) is covered by HIPAA and must be protected in a significantly different way.

Whether you’re posting test results or scans, this article will detail some of the most common ways that companies fail to plan when protecting ePHI. We’ll also discuss the steps to properly secure HIPAA-covered lab results and how they can connect to any ERP, CRM, back-office lab software, or EMR/EHR systems. We’ll also discuss one reason people might actually want to share their sensitive information with others.

Who Uses HIPAA-Covered Test Results Data?

Lab results can show up in many places. One of the most common is the doctor/patient portal, where the doctor’s office has uploaded the results or they have an electronic connection to a lab or imaging center.

The company performing the testing can also provide the test results directly to the patient or client. It’s at this point that the security of their own portal must match those of the doctor’s office, since they now have a public-facing website that must deal with hacking attempts.

Another common use involves delivering real-time vitals from wearable devices or at-home diagnostic equipment. These often connect to smartphone HIPAA-compliant mobile apps, but can also be accessed via portals.

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Problems That Exist

The primary problem that arises is that healthcare providers aren’t careful enough with the ePHI that they are transferring or storing. As medical data becomes more valuable on the black market and bots become more advanced at attacking website, HIPPA security must go beyond the login screen.

Another common way in which many medical portals under-serve their clients is failing to focus on design. When people are already distressed about accessing this timely information, they don’t want to be four screens away from the information they’re trying to find. Letting patients self-service is also an easy way to prevent them from calling the office and tying up an employee’s time.

It’s also vital that patient health information isn’t compromised during communication. While companies providing test results might be vigilant about the ePHI on their servers, they might reveal too much in texts and emails sent to the client. Less information means more security, so it’s always best to guide patients to a HIPAA-compliant website, app, or portal with multi-factor authentication.

How Test Results Pages Deliver

Any portal or app that transports ePHI must keep the information safe while it’s in transit or at rest. But they need to do more than just be a repository for the information; it should be as easy-to-use as any top-tier website, whether it’s an eCommerce site or not.

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delivering what patients want

Delivering What Patients Want

It’s important to keep the needs of the patient at the forefront. Getting lab results can be a big deal, life-changing even. Patients who log in don’t want to have to guess which menu or tab their test result might be hiding under. Results should be easy to find, sortable, and intuitive to open so that the patient or client can see more details. Customers should also be able to easily download their ePHI, which is covered under the “P” part of HIPAA—Portability.

Whether you know it or not—and whether they know it or not—the people you provide test results for are judging the medical portal, website, or app that you’ve presented to them. Ease of use will give them a positive feeling toward your company, while feeling frustrated will give them a negative impression of it. This interaction can subconsciously translate to how they feel about the goods or services provided.

Desktop Portals and Mobile Apps

The best online experience that people experience becomes their new standard. Whether it’s for receiving information or purchasing a product, incredible design must be a part of your user experience.

This holds true no matter where a patient is interacting with your company. A website portal has to work as well on a laptop as it does on a smartphone. Design must also translate if you are offering a custom smartphone app for your clients.

Mobile apps with a patient-doctor portal are becoming especially popular when perpetual results need to be delivered, up to and including real-time results. These often involve wearable Bluetooth devices or those that are uploaded to a smartphone. Such vitals can be shown over time to deliver historical reports about the status of the patient. Information from these devices must also comply with HIPAA law.

Desktop Portals and Mobile Apps
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Adding Support Groups

There are a few scenarios when a patient might want to share their ePHI with others. They can share information with:

  • Doctors – Patients will often want their lab results shared with a doctor, especially if it’s test results that the doctor didn’t order directly during an office visit. The most common scenario is one that was administered via an at-home test kit.
  • Family – Families can offer support to someone receiving test results and may help them make changes in their lives to improve future readings. For instance, someone who is constantly monitoring their blood sugar or high blood pressure can share the information with anyone providing meals for them.
  • Friends – Friends can share information if they share a health concern and want to support each other. Each can offer encouragement to the other if they see certain stats going in the wrong direction.

Work With Clarity

Whether you’re starting from scratch or are integrating with a system containing EMR/EHR information, it’s possible to give your customers a secure and easy-to-use interface that keeps their precious ePHI safe. This not only protects you from the dangers of HIPAA non-compliance, but it also gives anyone using your system a sense of security, knowing that their medical information is accessible only to those who have legal access to it.

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Clarity Ventures has worked on dozens of sites that require HIPAA-level security, focusing not just on data protection but also the design that goes into creating a website or portal that’s intuitive for anyone using it. Whether or not you choose to work with us on your medical app, we have extensive resources on our site that are free to access so that you have a leg-up on your competition.

We also offer a complimentary discovery process, a free service where we’ll bring both a tech analyst and a business analyst to the table. You can use this report to work with us, or you can take it somewhere else. As a leader in the HIPAA eCommerce industry, we want to do whatever we can to support your business and provide you with the best information possible.

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.