About Kirsty Watson

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

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Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

How Occupational Medicine Portals Drive Efficiency

occupational medicine portals

occupational medicine portalsWhat are occupational medicine portals?

Occupational medicine focuses on employee health and wellness. Occupational medicine portals are a hub of specialty workflows and content geared towards occupational medicine. They include a suite of self-service tools tailored to occupational clinics, employers, and employees/patients. An occupational medicine portal can be further divided into patient portals, employer portals, and physician portals. Each portal is unique in the type of advantages and functionality it provides to the user.

How portals help the occupational medicine clinic

Employees worldwide have the right to a safe working environment, which is why, in 1994, The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the Global Strategy on occupational medicine[¹], and in 2006 WHO presented the Declaration on Workers Health[²]. Employers are required to implement occupational medicine and safety standards in the workplace; failure to do so can result in costly employee compensation. In 2018, it was estimated that employers paid in excess of $1 billion[³] per week for employees’ compensation for injuries that resulted in disability in 2015. Occupational medicine is severely neglected when it comes to health IT vendors, despite the fact that this specialty greatly benefits occupational medicine portals.

There are multiple regulatory bodies related to occupational medicine, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Strict policies and documentation are required to appease these authorities, and any portal/software solution needs to adhere to the regulations set by these organizations.

When managing occupational medicine Records (OHR), occupational medicine providers must appropriately account for the following considerations:

  • The regulatory body in charge of the OHR.
  • When and how to apply applicable regulations?
  • Who owns the OHR (the employer, employee, or provider)?
  • What information can be shared when and with whom?

OSHA requires that occupational medicine records remain independent and distinct from the general health record; therefore, electronic occupational medicine records should include role-based access frameworks. In keeping with this regulation, occupational medicine portals should manage and separate differing health record systems with varying access, use, and disclosure rules as needed. Under specific circumstances, occupational medicine records may crossover into the general health record (e.g., immunization records). Occupational medicine providers often serve multiple simultaneous clients such as employers, employees/patients, and healthcare providers. As previously stated, different types of client records must be separated from one another. One method to manage occupational medicine records is to implement differing portals. Occupational medicine portals help separate health records from one another and help maintain applicable access and regulations for each record.

occupational medicine portals

Employer Portal

If a healthcare provider performs occupational medicine services at the employer’s place of work, all records are kept by the employer. The healthcare professional does not maintain Protected Health Information (PHI) or occupational medicine records. The HIPAA privacy rule does not apply to employers; therefore, these records are maintained per OSHA rules. While the employer owns the OHR, the employee has appropriate rights to access and use or disclose the information within their OHR.

An employer portal provides employers with a means to keep track of their employees’ medical records, especially work-related health problems. Implementing an employer portal can reduce risks to employee health as employers can fully understand what risks are involved with their line of work and control them. Employer portals also aid in compliance with strict regulatory policies and maintaining employees’ health and safety, ensuring injuries at the workplace are well managed.

Patient Portal

Patient portals allow patients/employees access to their occupational medicine record and/or their electronic health records. Patient portals benefit employees in multiple ways, including improving patient outcomes by promoting communication between providers and patients. Patients can also access patient education regarding best safety practices and certain diagnoses, mitigate unnecessary risks, and improve overall health.
The most commonly used features within a patient portal:

  • Patient forms software
  • Bidirectional patient messaging between employers/providers/patients
  • Online medical record/results
  • DOT card
  • Care plans
  • Personalized patient education

Physician Portal

If a healthcare provider renders occupational medicine services at a clinic site, the healthcare provider owns the record and is subject to HIPAA and all other regulations governing patient health records. Health records are created and maintained as PHI. A HIPAA compliant physician portal allows healthcare providers to share information with patients and employers in a HIPAA compliant manner. This data could also be sent via an HL7 interface or Application Programming Interface (API) from the provider’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) to the employer/patient/provider portal solution. Copies of the health record containing PHI are provided to the employer only upon the patient’s authorization. The employer maintains OHR as part of the employee’s human resource employee health records.


Occupational medicine is necessary for all places of work. Failure to implement occupational medicine places employees’ health at risk and can result in legal trouble for the employer. There are multiple rules and regulations when it comes to conducting occupational medicine. Implementing occupational medicine portals, including employer portals, patient portals, and physician portals, makes managing occupational medicine records, according to those regulations, much more straightforward. Most mainstream EHR vendors fail to provide clients with true occupational medicine solutions.

If you’re looking for an Occupational Health EHR or portal for your business, we suggest considering PrognoCIS®. PrognoCIS® Software is a complete HealthCare IT solution that offers occupational medicine EHR. PrognoCIS® also provides patient portals, physician portals, and employer portals to aid in occupational medicine and governing regulations.

DISCLAIMER: All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Bridge Patient Portal is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored in any way by the service providers mentioned in this article.

  1. WHO. (n.d.). WHO | Global strategy on occupational medicine for all: The way to health at work. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/occupational_health/globstrategy/en/
  2. World Health Organization Declaration on Workers Health. (2006). [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/occupational_health/Declarwh.pdf [Accessed 8 Dec. 2020].
  3. www.osha.gov. (n.d.). Business Case for Safety and Health – Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [online] Available at: https://www.osha.gov/businesscase [Accessed 8 Dec. 2020].
Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

How To Execute An Award-Winning Digital Front Door Strategy

Medium to large-sized healthcare organizations are rapidly pushing to develop and execute on their Digital Front Door strategy. Patients are expecting more and more from their healthcare providers, especially when it comes to online services. To ensure patients’ satisfaction, a Digital Front Door strategy. should include the following features:

digital front door softwarePrescription Refills

77%[¹] of patients want a prescription refill solution. Rx Refill Request Software allows patients to request medication refills online from anywhere and at any time from a device of their choice, without having to call their healthcare provider.

Health Maintenance Reminders

70%[¹] of patients want their healthcare provider to send automated patient appointment reminders. Patient appointment reminder software sends patients a follow-up reminder message regarding condition, routine health maintenance, or reactivation if they have not had an appointment over a certain period of time.

 Patient-Provider Secure Messaging

69%[¹] of patients are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers bidirectional patient messaging. A secure messaging feature allows patients and caregivers to send and receive electronic messages with their healthcare providers.

Appointment Scheduling

68%[¹] of patients are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers digital appointment self-scheduling. Medical appointment scheduling software allows the process to be handled online. Patients can schedule appointments at any time from a device of their choice without the intervention of staff members.

Remote Monitoring

53%[¹] of patients want their healthcare provider to implement remote patient monitoring software. Remote patient monitoring comprises tools that collect, combine, analyze, and report patient vital data from the comfort of the patient’s home.

Telemedicine

Telehealth, telemedicine, virtual visits, and related terms refer to exchanging medical information online through electronic communication, generally video. 49%[¹] of patients are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers telemedicine.

Medical Records / Encounter Notes

Several healthcare authorities (ONC, CMS & HIPAA) enforce the fact that healthcare organizations should provide patients electronic access to their health information. With a Digital Front Door strategy, medical records portals allow patients to view their encounter notes and health records from their providers and combine health information from multiple sources, including user-entered data, into a single, consolidated patient record.

Patient Payments

An online patient payment solution feature within a Digital Front Door software allows patients to pay bills online and view their account details, including itemized costs, not just the outstanding balance.

Patient Forms

Give patients the freedom to fill out forms remotely on their chosen device before their consultation, allowing for a safe and efficient intake process. Digital Front Door software pulls information from the source system to automatically populate enrollment, clinical history, consent, and insurance/billing forms. Data entered into the patient forms software is sent back to the EHR (Electronic Health Record) or PM (Practice Management) solution’s discrete data fields.

Lab Results

Provide patients with a means to access their test/lab results in a HIPAA compliant manner. Lab results are sent to the patient portal either from the lab itself or the healthcare source systems.

Patient Education

Provide patients with education relating to an upcoming care visit, a past care visit, and general and ongoing health. Send patient-specific patient education based on any variable you choose, such as medical condition, age, and type of upcoming or past appointment.

Live Chat

HIPAA compliant chat allows patients and providers to communicate about a patient’s condition, share lab results, and ask and answer questions in a HIPAA compliant manner.

Patient Intake / Check-In

A patient intake solution allows patients to complete the intake process remotely on their chosen device. Patients can complete new enrollment forms, clinical history, consent, and insurance/billing before their consultation.

Provider / Location Search

Provide patients with a means to search for healthcare providers or healthcare organizations through the Digital Front Door strategy. Search results can include contact information as well as operating times and wait times.

Mapping & Wayfinding

Geolocation tools provide patients with real-time guidance to help patients arrive at specific healthcare facilities or locations. Online information helps patients navigate large healthcare facilities in a timely manner.

Urgent Care Visit Assistance

This feature provides patients with information regarding urgent care services; information should include up to date wait times and urgent care locations.

Digital Front Door Strategy

Referral Requests

Allow patients to request a referral to a specialist. Medical records can be shared between providers within patient referral software.

Transportation Services

Providers can arrange patient transportation to or from facilities through the Digital Front Door.

Ecommerce

E-commerce is a Digital Front Door feature in which services or products can be displayed. These products and services can be purchased online with the use of a credit card. An example of such a service could be a telehealth visit bundle. Products could include remote monitoring and wellness devices.

Insurance Eligibility & Service Estimates

A Digital Front Door strategy allows for automated verification of insurance coverage without staff assistance. Bridge works with a real-time EDI service for insurance eligibility and service estimations. This is typically checked during the patient intake/web-check-in process and can include price estimates overtime for extended treatment courses.

Virtual Waiting Room

A virtual waiting room provides patients with the means to virtually complete the intake process from their device without the need to step foot into the practice. A virtual waiting room includes appointment reminders, patient education, self-check-in, and online intake forms.

More than half[¹] of patients would rather choose a practitioner that provides digital capabilities encompassed within a Digital Front Door. Failure to provide such a solution can result in a loss of patients, therefore, revenue. It’s vital to keep up with the latest developments and demands, otherwise, healthcare organizations could be risking their future. Developing a comprehensive Digital Front Door strategy is no small feat. That is why many healthcare organizations partner with industry-leading personalized patient engagement providers such as Bridge Patient Portal. Contact us to discuss your innovative Digital Front Door software.

  1. Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey. [online] accenture.com. Available at:https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-94/accenture-2019-digital-health-consumer-survey.pdf [Accessed 4 Dec. 2020].
Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Bridge Creates a Lab Results Patient Portal for Addiction Labs for COVID-19 Testing

Lab Results Patient Portal

Lab Results Patient PortalBridge Patient Portal provides Addiction Labs with a HIPAA compliant way for their patients to view COVID-19 test results.

Dallas, TX – October 21, 2020 – Bridge Patient Portal provides Addiction Labs with a means to quickly provide patients with their COVID-19 test results in a HIPAA compliant way. Addiction Labs lends its laboratory facilities to assist in COVID testing. Currently, patients nationwide are experiencing significant delays in receiving COVID test results, which negates efforts to prevent further infections. One major factor contributing to these delays is ensuring that results are communicated in a HIPAA compliant way.

Once Addiction Labs processes the FDA – EUA approved PCR test, the patient receives an email stating that they can access their results through the portal. Patients can then log in to the lab patient portal to view their results. No PHI (Protected Health Information) is sent via email; patients need to confirm their identity before viewing their results, ensuring HIPAA compliance. Lab results are provided to the patient portal via an HL7 ORU (Observation Result) and populate data within the portal as a positive or negative result.

“Bridge Patient Portal has provided our patients a quick, simplified method to obtain their COVID-19 results during the pandemic,” said Shannon Myers, Addiction Labs Operations director. “Prior to this technology, we had to manually encrypt every test result and send it to the patients individually by email, which could take hours to complete each day. This technology is truly a time saver and ensures our patients get their results as quickly as possible.”

About Bridge Patient Portal
Bridge Patient Portal is an enterprise patient portal and engagement solution that empowers patients with self-service tools to better manage their care. The Bridge Patient Portal platform is client-branded and ideal for health organizations seeking to replace their existing EHR portals or connect to disparate EHR environments with a single, vendor-neutral patient portal platform available on desktop, iOS, and Android. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Bridge Patient Portal has installations in many healthcare’s leading clinics, hospitals, and health systems nationwide. For more information, visit https://www.bridgepatientportal.com/ or call 800-467-2321.

About Addiction Labs
Addiction Labs is a premium toxicology lab owned by American Addiction Centers. Since 2013, Addiction Labs has specialized in providing laboratory services for substance abuse and mental health facilities nationwide. Addiction Labs keeps its partners at the forefront of clinical excellence with its deep expertise, agile operations, and precise, high-end technology that translates to more reliable, insightful, and personalized solutions. For more information, visit https://addictionlabs.com/ or call 615-678-5973 or 800-772-0636.

Media Contact
Kirsty Watson
[email protected]

Originally published on 24-7PressRelease: https://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/476563/addiction-labs-selects-bridge-patient-portal-to-provide-patients-with-covid-19-test-results

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Is Apple FaceTime® a HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Software Platform

Is Apple FaceTime a HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Software Platform

Telehealth may seem like a new concept fueled by COVID-19, but in reality, telehealth companies have been around for many years and are growing in popularity. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, healthcare providers and patients are turning to telehealth companies to fill the void. Providers are also asking if other prominent video conferencing software such as Apple FaceTime® can be considered a HIPAA compliant telehealth software platform.

Is Apple FaceTime® a Conduit or a Business Associate?

 

Before we can determine whether Apple FaceTime® is a HIPAA compliant telehealth app or not we must ascertain if it is responsible for keeping electronic protected health information (ePHI) safe. HIPAA compliance normally pertains to covered entities (health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers) which Apple FaceTime® obviously isn’t. It could be argued that Apple FaceTime® may be considered a conduit or a business associate in the eyes of HIPAA. A conduit is a service that transmits ePHI and does not store it, or have the ability to access encrypted data. Telephone service providers and internet service providers are considered conduits, but cloud service providers are not. A conduit is not required to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

Recommended: Is Skype® is HIPAA Compliant?

Business associates are organizations or persons that create, transmit, receive, or maintain PHI on behalf of any covered entity. Cloud service providers (CSP) that provide cloud services to a covered entity or business associate that involves creating, receiving, or maintaining ePHI meet the definition of a business associate, even if the CSP cannot view the ePHI.

Apple® does not store any information sent via FaceTime®, which is a peer-to-peer communication channel where voice and audio communications are transmitted between individuals and can not decrypt sessions. Apple® is considered a business associate, therefore, is required to sign a BAA.

Will Apple Sign A BAA?

Because Apple® is considered a business associate it is required to sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). A BAA is a contract between a covered entity and a business associate that requires both parties to protect personal health information under the rules and regulations of HIPAA. Apple® is not willing to sign a BAA, therefore its services including FaceTime®, are not technically HIPAA compliant.

HIPAA Discretion During COVID-19

Under the good faith provision of telehealth during COVID-19, covered health care providers can use Apple FaceTime®, to provide telehealth without the risk of HIPAA non-compliance penalties. Apple FaceTime® could potentially introduce security risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications. Other popular applications are witnessing a rise in usage for telehealth purposes including Whatsapp®, Zoom®, and Skype. It is advisable that healthcare providers notify patients that third-party applications such as Apple FaceTime® are not HIPAA compliant and that there are other HIPAA compliant telehealth apps such as:

  • Skype for Business™
  • Updox®
  • VSee
  • Doxy.me®
  • Google Hangouts™
  • Zoom for Healthcare®
  • Cisco® Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
  • Amazon Chime™
  • GoToMeeting
  • Spruce Health Care Messenger™
  • Bridge Video Visits, powered by Zoom for Healthcare®

Recommended: Is Whatsapp® a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software?

Any application leveraged by covered entities that transmit ePHI needs to comply with certain HIPAA regulations. Given the fact that Apple FaceTime® will not sign a BAA, we can deduce that Apple FaceTime® is NOT a HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Software Platform. Any healthcare provider using non-compliant software during the leniency of COVID-19 must still strive to provide their patients with the most secure/safe environment possible.

DISCLAIMER: All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Bridge Patient Portal is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored in any way to the service providers mentioned in this article.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Why Healthcare Organizations Need a Virtual Waiting Room

In 2020 the world has adopted a new set of social norms from COVID-19 that have drastically impacted the way we interact with others and our physical environments. As people everywhere take precautions against contracting the virus, by social distancing, we’re witnessing a major shift in consumer behavior. For instance, the retail industry has experienced a boom in online shopping and curbside pickup orders, which rose by 208 percent — and is expected to continue long after the pandemic. If consumers are worried about contracting COVID-19 in retail settings, you can imagine the fear triggered by visiting healthcare facilities is even stronger. Patients have been advised to avoid in-person doctor’s visits if possible and to opt for virtual or telemedicine tools when available. (Even patients with coronavirus symptoms have been asked not to seek medical care unless symptoms worsen or become severe.) While telemedicine access has significantly expanded during this time, many patients must still visit healthcare providers in person. This has forced healthcare organizations to restructure their protocols and offices for point-of-care.

The Dangers of the Traditional Waiting Room

The traditional waiting room poses a significant threat now more than ever as patients and staff come into physical contact with infected persons, and touch shared surfaces and/or devices that may be contaminated, these spaces can be a breeding grounds for the spread of COVID-19. It may have never been good practice to place sick and injured people in close proximity to one another in the same room. While it may have aided practice staff to perform intake and better track their patients, it’s no longer a viable solution, and healthcare organizations must seek a safer alternative. Virtual waiting rooms also referred to as curbside check-ins, mobile waiting rooms, and zero-contact waiting rooms, allow patients to check-in for an appointment on their mobile device and remain in their vehicle or nearby area until an exam room is available. Additionally, they offer healthcare organizations a sustainable strategy to replace the traditional waiting room experience.

How To Implement a Virtual Waiting Room

The patient care journey surrounding virtual waiting rooms can begin with an appointment reminder sent an hour or two before a scheduled visit. Further information about new protocols and safety measures should be included in these communications, so patients know what to expect and how to navigate their visit. More specifically, useful information that should be communicated includes:

  • Conditions that must be met before the appointment
  • Pre-registration and/or intake forms
  • Time and location of an appointment
  • Areas for waiting (this is usually the parking lot)
  • What to bring (including mandating the use of facemasks)
  • How to check-in (often through a hyperlink that notifies the medical practice of arrival)

Once the patient arrives and the link is clicked, staff members are alerted, and patient tracking commences. Patient tracking allows staff members to keep tabs on:

  •  Check-in times
  • Treatment times
  • Under/over utilized rooms
  • Peak times by area
  • Patient whereabouts/status

“Healthcare providers are moving away from the traditional waiting room,” said James Hermann, CEO of PatientTrak, the leading patient flow and engagement software provider to the healthcare industry. “Patients sign-in using their mobile phones and receive text messages from staff when they are ready for the patient to enter the facility.” Patients can perform online self-check-in, where they provide the practice with their personal information, medical insurance information, and chief complaint.

After this process has been completed, and the healthcare provider is available, an SMS is sent to the patient with instructions on which exam room to visit. Clear digital communications are vital during this process and negate intervention that might be required from practice staff.

Virtual waiting rooms and patient tracking are becoming the new norm as they help medical organizations provide their patients with a safe and seamless experience. Now is the time to adopt and advertise these digital solutions to deliver patients the experience they expect before their point-of-care.

Recommended: The Dawn Of The Virtual Waiting Room

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

How To Implement A Family-Friendly Zero Visitor Policy

Zero Visitor Policy

It can be argued that emotional support from loved ones during illness or injury can speed up the rate of recovery. But this is not a luxury medical professionals can afford their patients in the current environment. The stress of isolation not only takes its toll on the patient but also the patient’s loved ones. The inability to see and connect with hospitalized friends and family members in-person can significantly increase rates of stress and anxiety.

Healthcare professionals are forced to carry out a balancing act of doing what’s right for the patient and what’s right for the general population. Healthcare organizations should try to provide patients with a stress-free environment and peace of mind for the patient’s loved ones. Below we discuss the best zero visitor practices to maintain patient satisfaction during COVID-19.

Communicate the Zero Visitor Policy

In order to avoid any surprises, ensure your patients are well aware of the zero visitor policy far in advance of their visit to your facility. The policy should be communicated in such a way that it is easy to understand by all types of patients. Healthcare organizations should communicate the policy numerous times and in different ways.
Methods include clearly stating the policy through:

  • Your website, patient portal, and social media channels
  • SMS/email before the appointment
  • Signage within your facility

Allow For Direct Communication

Hospital isolation can be taxing on anyone, but more so for the young, elderly, or people with disabilities. It’s essential to provide patients with a means to garner support from their loved ones when visitation is not possible. Provide your patients with a means to communicate with their loved ones directly. Encourage patients to bring WiFi-enabled devices and their charging cables and allow for personal devices within patients’ rooms. When a patient is required to stay for a length of time within a facility, which is normally the case for those recovering from COVID-19, “face-to-face” communication is vital to maintain strong mental health. The use of video may typically be prohibited, but exceptions should be made to allow patients to video call with their family. Exceptions may be made under the provision that a staff member is present to ensure the privacy of other patients within the ward/room or video calls may only be permitted at a specific time. This communication method allows patients and relatives to communicate in real-time, easing both parties’ apprehensions.

Establish A Reliable Communication System

Healthcare organizations should provide safe, practical communication methods to patients and their loved ones during this time. Text messaging family members during care is a convenient and effective way to communicate a patient’s status and progression. HIPAA-compliant text messaging allows staff members to securely communicate whether a patient is progressing normally or not, which keeps family members informed while they wait off-premise.

PatientTrak’s text messaging system is an industry-leading solution that helps keep patients, family members, and staff informed during hospital stays. During check-in, the relative’s contact number is recorded as well as their relation to the patient. Initially, PatientTrak’s communication system updated family members on how a patient was progressing during surgery. PaientTrak’s system can now provide family members with real-time updates on a patient’s stay within a healthcare facility.

 

The system also provides staff members with logistical messages, such as the progress of a patient throughout the facility and how long they may be waiting for care. Their functionality also notifies patients of where they should go and when the practitioner is ready for their appointment. Messaging functionality should only be available to specific users, depending on their authorization.

Most messages can be sent automatically via a predetermined template, saving staff time while still providing valuable information to relatives. Automatic messaging helps prevent any human errors/typos and HIPAA slip-ups. Staff members have the ability to create a message ad hoc if further information needs to be conveyed.

During this difficult time, it is possible to maintain a patient’s safety while avoiding the mental health complications that arise during isolation within a healthcare facility. Implementing zero visitor best practices not only improves the patient experience, but it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. With text message and paging systems, healthcare organizations can keep everyone informed of a patient’s care while mitigating the need for a constant stream of visitors.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Research Finds Significant Patient Portal Benefits For Remote Patient Monitoring

It has been found that people who engage with healthcare providers through online patient portals benefit from improved health outcomes. Researchers at The University of Texas partnered with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to study the patient portal logs for 3,266 patients with congestive heart failure over 12 years.

 

Multiple benefits of patient portals for patients were discovered throughout the study. Patient health outcomes were improved in several ways after the continued use of a patient portal. Patients who effectively used a portal were 2-4% less likely to be hospitalized. Those who engaged with the portal were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency room. The average length of stay after being hospitalized decreased by 11%. Readmission rates were about 2% lower among users of patient portals compared to those who did not make use of a patient portal.

During the study, researchers noted which portal features were most frequently used by the patients. Below we summarize how certain patient portal features result in reduced inpatient visits, 30-day readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.

Lab results and medical history

Lab results can be automatically uploaded to the patient portal from the EHR or lab. A patient can be notified by an alert when their test results are available. Access to lab results and medical history improves the accuracy of patient health information as providers can update the info as soon as anything changes. Access to these features allows for ease of access for providers to patient medication history, lab results, and health summary. These features provide accurate and comprehensive information for both patients and providers. This leads to many benefits of patient portals in healthcare as providers can gain valuable insight into the patient’s overall health. Providers are able to determine the level of adherence to a medical regimen and care plans in order to work with the patient to make improvements.

Secure messaging

A secure HIPAA-compliant messaging platform allows patients to communicate with health providers and vice versa. Patients get a notification when a new message is waiting for them. Providers can respond to incoming messages through the patient portal, or directly from their EHR using an interface. Secure messaging improves communication between patients and providers. This increase in communication improves care coordination and allows for shared decision making. Patients are able to provide their healthcare providers with updates regarding their health, which allows both parties to monitor disease progression.

Prescription refill request and appointment scheduling

Patient self-scheduling software allows patients to book appointments at their own convenience. Self-scheduling allows patients to select their doctor and preferred visit time from a list of available appointment slots. Appointment scheduling improves visit adherence and reduces no-show rates. Prescription refill requests allow the patient to order a refill of their medication through the patient portal. This feature within a patient portal benefits adherence to a medication regimen. Both features increase patient satisfaction and self-efficacy.

Healthcare organizations should consider increasing patient engagement through access to the patient portal in order to increase patient outcomes by decreasing inpatient visits, readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Patient Portal Proxy Access: A Common Failure In Patient Portals

Patient portal proxy access allows caregivers or legal guardians to access their dependents’ patient portals. Studies have shown that patients generally saw benefits once caregivers had access to the information and functions within their patient portal, such as health literacy assistance and help in the time of medical emergencies. Proxy patient portal access is most commonly used in these scenarios:

 

  • A parent accessing their son or daughter’s patient portal account
  • A son or daughter accessing their elderly parent’s patient portal account
  • A nurse or caretaker accessing their patient’s account, when that nurse or caretaker is not affiliated with the healthcare organization providing the patient portal account
  • A husband or wife accessing their significant other’s patient portal account

“Parents are amongst the most active patient portal users. Therefore, providing parents with the ability to manage their children’s care from a patient portal or mobile app easily is an incredibly powerful feature,” explains John Deutsch, founder and CEO of Bridge Patient Portal. Patient portal systems can help caregivers better manage care for the patient. However, patients have shown concern about providing caregivers with information regarding stigmatized conditions and financial billing information.

Providing proxy portal access impacts a patient’s privacy and security in multiple ways.

Patient Portal Proxy Access Protects Patients’ Privacy

Proxy portal access promotes better healthcare for minors, the elderly, and others that may struggle to manage their health independently, without infringing on privacy. Everyone has the right to privacy and the right to withhold information they consider sensitive. In one study, almost half of US hospitals failed to protect their patients’ data as they endorsed the sharing of login credentials. The sharing of login credentials should be against hospital policy and may invalidate the solution as being a HIPAA compliant patient portal.

Track Changes Made Within The Portal

Logging in as the patient allows third-parties full access to the healthcare portal and the ability to make changes on behalf of the patient. Healthcare organizations often assume incorrectly that these requests/changes are being made by the patient. This makes it difficult to track the true identity of the person making changes in the portal, as it may appear that those changes have been authorized by the patient.

Prevent Patients’ From Being Locked Out

The sharing of login details can result in patients being locked out of their own account. Losing access is not always due to malicious intent as caregivers may lock patients out of the portal by mistake. Secure software has protocols in place to flag suspicious activity such as multiple active logins, logins from unknown devices, or too many failed logins.

Honor Age Of Majority Laws

The sharing of login details allows for permanent access unless the patient changes their password. This may prove to be an issue when children become legal adults, but their parents still have access to their health information, or in any situation where a patient would like to revoke access. The patient portal proxy access should support state-specific age of majority laws so that once the child reaches the age of majority, the parent or guardian access to the dependent’s portal is automatically unlinked.

Stop Security Breaches

With regards to patient portal security, research has shown that people often use similar passwords across multiple systems; patients may not be aware that they are opening themselves to a massive security risk by using just one password.

Limit The Amount Of Access

Patient portal caregiver access is vital to our most at-risk population. The best solution would allow patients to give access to caregivers at a level they deem appropriate. Patient portals should provide patients with a default proxy account configuration that includes access to most information and functions, but requires an opt-in for the complete medical record, billing, and insurance information. Portals could also provide a simple checklist of access controls to help patients decide what information or functionality to grant the caregiver.

Easy Registration

Registering for a proxy account can frequently prove difficult, and in many cases, requires the caregiver to go in person to the hospital or clinic. Patient portal self-registration is a valuable feature allowing patients and caregivers to register on their own with very little to no assistance required.

As patient portal proxy access continues to gain momentum, hospitals and electronic health record (EHR) vendors need to seek patient portal systems that allow caregivers to care for patients without violating their privacy or placing them at risk of security breaches.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

The Dawn Of The Virtual Waiting Room

Covid-19 telemedicine

patient portal for medical clinicsThe COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way healthcare professionals are interacting with their patients. At the height of the pandemic, healthcare practices of all types have turned to telehealth/telemedicine to interact with patients remotely. Telehealth software use is being driven by necessity since patients are advised not to physically go to a medical clinic or any other healthcare facility due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure. But not every healthcare specialty lends itself well to telehealth. In certain scenarios, patients need to see their providers in person.

As government and healthcare officials are slowly relaxing the restrictions regarding visiting healthcare offices, the risk of COVID-19 exposure is still present. Patients are now more aware of how the virus spreads and the risk of being infected by contact with people, places, and objects (including pens, clipboards, and shared devices like tablets and kiosks). It’s preferable that patients use their own devices with the aid of a mobile app patient portal to complete the patient intake process.

The Virtual Waiting Room

Some officials want to prevent the use of the traditional waiting room as much as possible since forcing patients to sit in a room in close proximity to others is a breeding ground for viruses. For instance, in New York City, patients are advised to remain in their car until it’s time for their appointment as contact with potentially contaminated objects should be limited at all costs. Because of new protocols enacted across cities, for how patients receive in-person care and limit exposure to contamination, a patient intake option that can be completed on one’s own devices via a mobile app patient portal would be beneficial.

Patient Portal For Medical Clinics

Healthcare providers are seeking a solution to complete intake forms, gather patient clinical histories, and other documentation virtually. A patient portal for medical clinics can provide patients with a means to complete necessary forms online before a consultation, (leading to a better in-person experience) and deliver more efficiency to doctors and medical staff by cutting down wait times. Patient portal solutions are also valuable because healthcare practices can utilize them to inform patients of new policies before a visit to the office and disseminate educational materials. Some examples include the requirement for patients to wear masks during visits, instructions for virtual check-in, the protocol for reporting COVID-19 symptoms prior to arrival, where patients should wait before an appointment, precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, etc. HIPAA compliant appointment reminders, broadcast messaging, and bidirectional patient messaging are pivotal in communicating new protocols for visiting a provider.

The healthcare landscape has drastically changed since the onslaught of COVID-19, which has forced medical practices and healthcare organizations to change how they operate to meet the evolving needs of patients and prioritize public health. Consider the importance of integrating a patient portal for your medical organization. Contact us to learn more.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

How Patient Portals For Healthcare Improve Health

There have been many findings supporting the fact that patient portals have a positive effect on patients’ health. Positive influences include improved communication between physician and patient, enhanced self-management of overall wellness, and better patient health behaviors.

Improved communication between physician and patient

Patient portals for healthcare may help facilitate patient engagement and improve outcomes when fully utilized by patients and care partners. Healthcare providers who use a patient portal recognize its ability to engage patients in their care, facilitate stronger patient-provider communication, and increase convenience. (Bridge has found that patient-provider secure messaging is the most commonly used feature in its patient portal solution.) Healthcare consumers indicate that the use of a patient portal can result in saved time and money, and serves to provide relevant health information. Additionally, portals have demonstrated other benefits, including the discovery of medical errors, and improving adherence to medications.

Self-management of overall wellness

Patients are able to truly take ownership of their health when provided with tools such as a patient portal for healthcare, which often results in improved health. According to a group of researchers from Kaiser Permanente, those with diabetes who use a patient portal may be better off than those who do not, with the portal leading to better medication adherence and overall chronic disease management. The research found that diabetic patients (with a higher baseline glycated hemoglobin level, >8.0%), who adopted a patient portal that was accessible on desktop and mobile, had heightened levels of medication adherence when compared to not having one at all. These patients saw better medication adherence of 95%, and a decrease in glycated hemoglobin levels by 95%. The study anticipated that access to clinical data via a patient portal smartphone application would allow individuals to better understand and manage their health information. Patients could be assured of their data accuracy, shop for personalized healthcare services, and seamlessly share their electronic health records with new providers.

Improved patient health behaviors

Studies also show that patient health behaviors are improved with the use of a patient portal for healthcare. These findings may encourage providers to promote portal use to improve patients’ preventive health behaviors. Annual flu vaccinations, blood pressure checks, and lipid level screens were substantially higher in portal users compared with nonusers. Patient portal use has also been found to be effective in improving psychological outcomes, such as decision making and self-efficacy, and behavioral outcomes, such as medication adherence and cancer screening.

It’s clear that patient portals have many positive effects on the patient experience and health outcomes. Healthcare organizations should consider implementing this solution to provide better care and empower patients to take a larger role in their own health management.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Kirsty is an experienced marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the medical and software industry. She is skilled in digital marketing, including SEO copywriting. Kirsty marries her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.