Author: Sarah Smith, CPhT
The Patient and Consumer Health Portal (aka The Patient Portal, for short) is used in many MEDITECH facilities and was an important part of meeting MU Stage 2 and 3 (now Promoting Interoperability (PI)). While the product is robust and feature rich, my experience consulting in numerous MEDITECH-based facilities has highlighted that the portal is often viewed as “plug-and-play” where all available features are not deployed during the initial implementation.
This leads to facilities missing out on opportunities to increase patient engagement such as messaging to providers, virtual visits, patients being able to update their information, booking appointments with clinics online, viewing their medical records, and requesting medication refills, to name a few. Without these items appropriately implemented, the patient may not be able to effectively use the Portal and engage with the organization. All this when outreach and patient engagement needs are at the highest.
Areas to address in an existing MEDITECH Patient Portal install:
There are some common areas to improve patient engagement processes using the MEDITECH Patient Portal. These include:
- Administrative Reports. Your team may not be aware of the reporting that can be utilized within the Portal to see what patients are logging in/where they are visiting. You are also able to see who has not completed enrollment to proactively contact patients and assist them with their portal profile.
- Creating M-AT Users/Managing Portal Users. If your team has questions/concerns with creating and managing their internal Portal users, this can be addressed with training. Depending on your team, this can be as simple as training documentation or live virtual training for a social-distanced alternative to in-person training.
- Content Parameters. Parameters can be customized on a multitude of levels, adding alignment and personalization of the Portal to your organization. Adjustments can include wording on items to reflect policies, new contact information, and even news and events.
- Branding and Portal Customizations. Adjustments to the homepage, color sets, and branding settings function nearly concurrently with the content parameters to match the organization’s branding.
- Patient Access to Reports. Reports can be made available to patients to view within the portal. A common use is the provision of radiology reports via the portal which allows patients to view their reports in a PDF format once completed in RAD/ITS/IDM.
- Test Results. Enabling lab, microbiology, and pathology results to display in the Portal gives patients the ability to view results and reference ranges with flags, and can even graph some items to see trends. Delays in results can be set on global or individual test levels, along with sensitivity settings, to block specific results from displaying.
- Patient Profile. Staff can encourage self-service and efficiency through communicating to patients that updates to their demographic and contact information can be made in the portal. Updates made in the portal will flow to HIM.
New portal enhancements: the MEDITECH code update also requires consideration.
This post would not be complete without mentioning the significant number of Portal enhancements available in the latest update of MEDITECH Expanse. MEDITECH users can learn more by subscribing to our online MEDITECH Enhancement and Video Library. These enhancements include:
- Online appointment requests and scheduling
- Automatic Portal Invitation/Enrollment
- Mass Emails
- Online Billing
- Health Tracker
- MHealth App for Apple and Android
- Online pre-registration, consent forms, check-in
- Questionnaires for Ambulatory, Radiology, and Surgical
- Shared Access (Example: a college student could invite a parent to their Portal for billing information and keep clinical data private).
- Spanish Portal
- Virtual Visits/Virtual Waiting Room
The truth is: The expense of assessing and deploying the Patient Portal isn’t the typical problem.
A typical portal assessment is a 6-day engagement and is a minimal investment for facilities. It can address errors in configuration detected during the assessment as well as provide recommendations on how to adjust parameters. Time and ownership tend to be the true barrier to progress when it comes to the Patient Portal. Most hospital IT departments in my experience are focused on urgent needs, haven’t had the bandwidth to research portal enhancements that can be implemented, and do not have a portal team. The portal functions as a shared asset across the operation and it often doesn’t receive the focus needed.
In situations where the Portal has already been implemented, we recommend auditing the existing Portal; highlighting where things may be improved, and where functionality is being under-utilized or not utilized at all. Once the audit is complete, informed decisions can be made regarding implementing additional functionality that can help the facility gain efficiencies as well as stand out in their market.