HIPAA eCommerce

Patient Portal Development: Benefits, Challenges, Solutions

Updated March 30, 2023  |  11 min read
Key Takeaways
  • A patient portal for your medical practice is a great way to increase patient engagement and access to care, thus improving patient outcomes.
  • Patient portal HIPAA compliance is essential for healthcare organizations to keep medical data secure and to avoid fines and loss of reputation.
  • With custom HIPAA-compliant portal development, you can tailor your patient portal to fit your organization's and patients' needs.
  • Research shows that patients expect their healthcare institutions to offer patient portals, and that they are more likely to go to a doctor who offers a portal than to one who doesn't.
  • Challenges for healthcare practices include costs, security, getting patients to engage, satisfying stakeholders, deciding on features, system integration, and dealing with complex legal matters.
  • Solving those challenges can be as easy as working with an experienced HIPAA-compliant portal development company, like Clarity Ventures. You can rest assured your patient portal will remain secure, user-friendly, feature-rich, have seamless integration with your business systems, and comply with all requirements.

Improving Patient Care Through Patient Portal Development

HIPAA-compliant portal development is essential for improving patient care in modern-day healthcare. A patient portal is an online platform where patients can access their medical history, lab test results, appointment scheduling, and other healthcare information. They also provide prescription status updates, online payments and billing, and secure messaging between patients and providers.

Patient care.

Essentially, a patient portal enables remote healthcare management, allowing patients to access information and manage their care without having to visit the doctor's office for every little thing. This increases patient engagement and improves communication between patients and providers.

Patient portals have become popular among healthcare providers for the benefits and convenience they provide. However, developing a patient portal involves technical and regulatory considerations, particularly compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Patient Portal HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA establishes guidelines for handling and storing patient information and requires patient portals to have strong security and privacy protections. It also requires patients to be able to access their medical records online, download copies, and transmit them to third-party providers. Most medical practices find it necessary to develop patient–doctor portals.

Fulfilling these privacy, security, and administrative responsibilities leads to many development costs and challenges for HIPAA eCommerce. However, the benefits of a patient portal software and the call to modernize and digitalize health information has convinced many medical practices to adopt this technology as quickly as possible. Moreover, choosing the right development partner to build your HIPAA-compliant portal can increase your revenue, improve efficiency, and reduce costs overall.

Work with HIPAA eCommerce Experts

Failing to adhere to HIPAA standards can result in serious fines. Investing in a HIPAA-compliant portal or website can keep your medical business out of trouble. Clarity is here to help. We've a developed HIPAA-compliant solution that can be customized to your needs.

Custom Patient Portal Development

Custom patient portal software development is becoming increasingly popular as more healthcare providers seek to tailor their portals to the specific needs of their patients and practice.

Custom patient portals can include a range of features that are not typically found in standard portals, such as appointment reminders, interactive health education, and the ability for patients to view and update their medical information. Customized patient portal development can also be designed to integrate with existing electronic health record (EHR) and other healthcare systems.

Patient portal app

Custom patient portal app development requires a deep understanding of the unique needs and preferences of patients and healthcare providers. Your healthcare institution most likely has unique workflows that need to be incorporated into the patient portal. You may also have a legacy EMR or EHR system that needs to be integrated, or you may have specific requirements for the user interface.

In these circumstances, where patient portal app development is the way to go, it's best to work with a partner who can deliver exactly what you need while also ensuring your site is HIPAA compliant; and that means working with seasoned HIPAA eCommerce experts who have an excellent track record. Because in the end, a custom patient portal solution is usually worth the investment—it allows for better efficiency, patient–doctor interaction, and user experience.

How Important Is Patient Portal Development? Review the Stats

HIPAA eCommerce platforms provide patient portals that streamline workflow, free staff members from routine clerical work, reduce operating costs, and strengthen patient loyalty to their care providers. Patient engagement with portals is a crucial aspect of how useful they can be. So how many patients actually use or want to use patient portals? The report from a PYMNTS and Experian Health survey found that:

  • 1 out of 5 patients have scheduled an appointment through digital channels in the past year (from when the study was conducted, in April 2022).
  • 2 out of 3 consumers currently use a patient portal.
  • 32 percent of those not using portals would be "very" or "extremely" interested in using patient portal software if they were offered.

Additionally, survey results from Software Advice found that:

  • 66 percent of patients expect patient portal software to be offered by their healthcare providers.
  • Over half of patients would be more likely to go to doctors who offer a patient portal over those who don't.
  • There's been an upward trend as of late, with a 64 percent increase in patient portal usage from 2016 to 2019—and market trends for eCommerce only show that number going up for current times.

Portal Development Challenges & Solutions for Healthcare Practices

The challenges of implementing patient-doctor portals depend on a provider's IT infrastructure and its operating system's complexity and interoperability. HIPAA regulations also provide legal and regulatory requirements that include meeting mandatory HIPAA guidelines and voluntary best practices. Here are the most common challenges that occur during HIPAA-compliant patient portal app development.

Patient portal mobile application

Cost of Development and Maintenance

One of the biggest challenges of patient portal software development is the cost of development and maintenance. Patient portals require significant investment in technology and infrastructure, as well as ongoing maintenance and upgrades to keep the system running smoothly. This can be a significant financial burden for small or rural healthcare practices, which may not have the resources to invest in these systems.

However, Clarity Ventures is a developer that works with small businesses as well as enterprises. We know what small healthcare practices need and how to implement that at an affordable cost. Don't hesitate to get a free quote or demo from us; we're happy to help.

Managing Identity and Access

Managing identify and access to HIPAA-compliant websites is an ongoing process that requires multiple verifications during enrollment and each time the portal is accessed. Patient portals need to evaluate risks without requiring lengthy sign-ups or identity confirmations that discourage portal use. Intelligent portals use combined device intelligence, passwords, and special questions when patients access their records on unknown devices. Strong identity and access controls make it easy to verify each authorized portal use without burdening patients with long, complex verifications.

Here are some of the measures used to protect patient data and prevent unauthorized access with a patient-doctor portal:

  • Secure login: Patients are required to provide a unique username and password to log in to the portal. Passwords are usually encrypted and stored in a secure database to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Two-factor authentication: In addition to a username and password, patients may be required to provide an additional form of authentication such as a one-time code sent to their email or mobile phone.
  • Session timeouts: Patient portals usually have a session timeout feature which automatically logs the user out of the portal after a certain period of inactivity.
  • IP restriction: Some portals are restricted to certain IP addresses and can only be accessed from within the practice's network.
  • Encryption: Patient portals encrypt patient data in transit and at rest to prevent unauthorized access to the data.
  • Compliance: Patient portals are generally compliant with regulations such as HIPAA and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure that patient data is protected and kept private.

It's worth noting that the security measures put in place can vary from one portal to another and can change over time as new threats and vulnerabilities are discovered. That's why it's important to work with a development company that stays up to date in the latest security features and can update your systems with little to no downtime for your site.

HIPAA-Compliant EHR Data

The safety of HIPAA and EHR / EMR data is vital no matter where you are or whom you do business with. Clarity can make your information secure using industry best practices. Let us show you what we can do.

Minimizing Barriers to Patient Engagement

While patient portals generally increase engagement of patients with their healthcare providers and many people are eager to use the portals, not all patients are willing or able to use online portals. Mainly, those who have limited access to devices or the internet, limited technology skills, or who just like doing things the old-fashioned way.

If there are any additional barriers, such as the portal being difficult to navigate and use, this can lead to low patient engagement and adoption of the system. To overcome this challenge, your healthcare practice must ensure the patient portal system is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and provides clear instructions on how to use the system. New or important information should be front and center so the user can see the essentials at a glance.

Strategies to Increase Patient Portal Use

The benefits of HIPAA-compliant websites increase exponentially with each patient who uses one, so encouraging patients and their families to use the patient portals can strengthen the cost-value and time-saving advantages of the technology. Business concerns necessarily impact each medical practice, but decision-makers can enhance the benefits of adopting patient portals with strong campaigns to encourage patient use.

  • Your website could provide flexible options for users to customize how they use a patient portal.
  • You can launch a promotional campaign that emphasizes the benefits of getting 24-hour access to critical information.
  • Medical providers can enlist families and caregivers to encourage patients to register and use the technology.
  • Consider promoting a team effort in the office that encourages every staff member to advocate the virtues of patient portals.
  • Encourage physicians and clinicians to post information promptly and to respond to patient messages within a reasonably prompt timeframe.
  • Display signs and posters in the office, including simplified registration instructions on patient summaries.

Satisfying Diverse Stakeholders

Developing an effective HIPAA eCommerce platform doesn't just involve patients; it includes a broad cross-section of stakeholders. These include the practice's senior leadership, patient advocates in the community, risk management stakeholders (like insurers and legal counsel), physicians, and clinicians.

Healthcare staff

In addition, marketing staff and health data management teams need to sell the benefits of using the patient portal to patients, caregivers, and staff. Patient portals enhance communications, and sounding out these stakeholders is essential for developing an effective portal as each uses the technology at ever-increasing rates.

Determining Portal Features and Capabilities

Each medical practice has unique patient profiles, medical specialties, budgetary limitations, percentage of Medicare/Medicaid patients, and business structures. Many practices refer patients to in-house or outside partners exclusively, but all medical corporations must share information with other providers when it's requested by patients.

Designing a HIPAA-compliant portal depends on the practice's goals, mandatory requirements, patient demographics, and services while sharing information among authorized users and business associates with distinct access levels. Common challenges of portal design and development include:

  • Determining who generates and uses the information according to HIPAA logging requirement.
  • Identifying the administrative tasks that can be performed, such as scheduling and canceling appointments, updating health or billing information, allowing patients to register for surgical procedures, and providing answers to questions.
  • Meeting mandatory or voluntary regulatory incentive requirements.
  • Deciding who gets access—caregivers, proxies, external vendors, and authorized family members.
  • Implementing procedures for requiring additional authentication steps, approval from a provider, or denying access to high-risk patients for whom it might be harmful to access certain health information.
  • Enabling patients to download and complete forms.
  • Checking benefits and coverage of health plans.
  • Exchanging secure, encrypted emails between patients and staff members.
  • Providing patients access to educational resources, discharge summaries, aftercare instructions, medications, lab results, and other information.

Integration with Existing Systems

Patient portals must be able to seamlessly integrate with other healthcare systems such as electronic health records, appointment scheduling, and billing systems. This requires significant planning and coordination between different departments, and without the right software developer, this can be more time-consume and complex than it needs to be. Clarity Ventures specializes in integrations; tell us what you need, and we'll get it set up for you in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner.

Happy medical doctor

Ensuring Local, State, and Federal Compliance

HIPAA eCommerce platforms address many mandatory and medical compliance issues. Medical practices must consider their business associates’ and chain-of-trust issues that arise when sending information via electronic transmission. Medical companies deal with insurance companies, internet service providers, labs, pharmacies, billing and coding services, hospitals, and other practices across different medical-related specialties.

Each of these relationships generates a window of vulnerability that requires using a secure server, password, HIPAA-compliant hosting, and encryption/decryption algorithms to satisfy privacy and security regulations. Practices need to know their business partners and secure business associate agreements before sharing patient information through patient portals.

HIPAA eCommerce Development

Clarity specializes in creating custom software solutions that are HIPAA compliant. Our team can help medical practices develop HIPAA eCommerce applications that are secure and highly functional for patients, medical practices, and physicians.

Busy medical staff can spend less time on the phone and more time treating patients, which increases patient satisfaction and enhances productivity. Your medical practice can customize the patient portal based on many factors such as average patient age, familiarity with digital technology, need for proxy access for caregivers or spouses, and other criteria.

Hospitals, private practices, pharmacies, and every type of medical provider can enjoy the benefits HIPAA eCommerce platforms have to offer.


Discover Your Patient Portal Solution

Contact us today to see how we can meet the challenges of HIPAA-compliant patient portal development. We offer a free discovery session with our experts to go over your needs and help you find the best solution. There's no obligation attached and no risk—so why not give it a try?

HIPAA Development



Patient portals must be HIPAA compliant since they involve the use or transmission of private health information (PHI). If a patient portal is not HIPAA compliant, the healthcare institution in question will have to face penalties from the government—the exact details of which depend on the type and severity of the transgression.


The best HIPAA compliant platforms include Clarity HIPAA eCommerce, Mend, Doxy.me, AMC Health, swyMed, Teladoc, VCDoctor, SecureVideo, Updox, athenaOne, Klara, Secure Telehealth, HIPAA video, Valant, NextGen, SimplePractice, TheraNest, Deputy, TherapyNotes, and BlueJeans.


Following these guidelines will help you create the best online HIPAA compliant portal:

  1. Conduct a risk analysis of potential security risks and the types of PHI you'll be dealing with.
  2. Design a secure infrastructure with firewalls, encryption, and access controls.
  3. Host your portal on a HIPAA compliant hosting platform.
  4. Implement access controls and security measures so only authorized users can access the patient portal and it's protected against attempted breaches.
  5. Develop policies and procedures for the use, storage, and transmission of PHI.
  6. Train your staff on HIPAA regulations and your patient portal's policies and procedures.
  7. Conduct regular audits and risk assessments to identify and stay on top of security threats.

Still have questions? Chat with us on the bottom right corner of your screen #NotARobot

Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures who stays up to date on the latest trends in eCommerce, software development, and related topics to provide readers with the latest and greatest. She strives to help people like you realize the full potential for their business.