Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

Patient Portal in Mental Health Practice

Every clinician is interested in regular patients. The massive spread of the Internet and telehealth services opens up new opportunities for retaining customers. Interactive services for patients are becoming increasingly popular: mobile and web-based applications that interact with information systems inside the clinic. These services allow a mental health professional to maintain constant communication with his patients and make the process of receiving medical services more convenient.

Recent studies conducted among patients of American clinics indicate that 40% of respondents are willing to switch healthcare providers in order to get online access to their medical records.

This trend is gaining popularity all over the world. Now, when almost every adult has a smartphone with Internet access, document storage and information exchange are gradually moving online. And if you can conduct your financial affairs on the Internet, interact with government agencies, then why not use modern technologies to communicate with a doctor?

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We cannot find any reasons not to do it. And motivated mental health patients understand that their treatment and recovery depend on their active involvement in the process of patient care. That’s why patient portals have become one of the most effective instruments in the fight for mental health.

Smart Medicine and Patient Loyalty

The upcoming direction in the field of healthcare has received the collective name "smart medicine". This term implies the widespread use of the Internet and various mobile devices (smartphones, sensors, etc.) in the monitoring and treatment of patients.

The capabilities of smart medicine in mental health care help the professional to increase patient loyalty and do not require large financial investments. The simplest and most accessible of them are patient portals with SMS and e-mail notifications, online appointment, payment for clinic services via Internet payment services and electronic questionnaires.

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The basis for using the capabilities of smart medicine is the practice management software installed in the clinic. The introduction of this software implies a transition from paper media to the collection and storage of medical data of patients in electronic form.

What Is a Patient Portal?

A patient portal is a mental health service that provides access to personal health information for patients everywhere in the world via an Internet connection.

The portal use allows your patients to:

  • Have access to medical data, including test results and analyses
  • Receive the necessary documents in electronic form or make a request for prompt receipt of printed documents
  • Have a calendar of their sessions
  • Manage the process of booking or cancelling appointments
  • Receive discharge summaries and lab results online
  • Message their psychiatrist securely
  • Understand the size of the deposit balance and make payments in advance.

The portals increase patient engagement and activation

People like controlling their lives. Especially their well-being. Patients' access to the portals makes them feel involved in the entire process of care. They understand that their participation is vital and obligatory.

The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) proves that electronic health record (EHR) with patient access facilitates patient activation and improves outcomes when “fully utilized by patients and care partners”.

The idea of patient portals is to support the patient's health care. Today, people often turn to clinicians in cases with which they could cope much more effectively themselves. For example, to renew a prescription or for help.

Patient relationship management is a way to teach patients to be interested in their health, monitor it independently, and receive help, including in the form of telemedicine consultations and tips.

For example, this is the way Apple is moving. A few years ago, the corporation announced that it would be engaged in digital healthcare and the creation of services related to the patient's personal account. Medical organizations or private practitioners are connected to the system. The patient has the opportunity to provide access to his card to other doctors or services. A huge market is being formed. Now there is a boom of startups in this area in America, and they are focused on the patient, not the doctor.

Patient Portal User Experience Benefits for Practitioners

Maintaining electronic portals for patients, with the collection of mobile phone numbers and email addresses, allows you to activate services for automatic notification distribution.

For example, a patient makes an appointment and immediately receives a message (SMS or e-mail) about the date and time of the appointment, the cost of the appointment, with the name of the attending psychiatrist. This secure message may be sent again on the eve of the reception. Thus, the patient will not forget about the visit and will not confuse the time, and the clinic will reduce the number of unscheduled hours and no-shows in the doctors' schedule.

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In addition to basic admission data, such a notification may also contain background information – the location of the clinic on the map, patient memos.

Having such management systems, care professionals can also send regular mailings about promotions and news (changes in the cost of services, the appearance of added services, congratulations).

Thus, patients know that they are observed and not forgotten.

For example, the study of patients with anxiety and depression has shown remarkable results. The respondents were asked several yes/no questions. Let’s have a look at the positive answers and their percentage:

patient portal use statistics

"Your Opinion Is Important To Us"

How do we find out if a patient is satisfied with the mental health treatment and his wellness?

What can be improved and which advertising channels are more effective to use?

Of course, ask the patient himself. However, conducting marketing research is a complex and long process. Besides, most professionals do not have a separate marketing service.

With the help of patient portals, it is much easier to do this. For example, every time they see a doctor, a patient can receive a mini-questionnaire with questions about the visit: what did you like and what did not, is the patient satisfied with the doctor's qualifications and the level of service.

In electronic form, you can also collect information about where the patient learned about the medical center (he came on the recommendation of another doctor, saw an advertisement, found it on the Internet). Reports are generated on the basis of this information, which helps the management to rationally allocate advertising budgets and increase patient satisfaction.

Maintaining feedback also works at the level of emotions – it is important for the patient that his opinion matters, loyalty to the medical center increases.

Patient Experience and Telemedicine

Using the patient's personal account in conjunction with the principles of telemedicine opens up new possibilities.

Firstly, it is easy to arrange an online meeting of the patient with the attending care team. Thanks to it, a specialist can assess the state of health, give recommendations for treatment or set a time for a personal meeting, if there is still a need.

Also, it is easy to monitor the patient's mental illness, his improvement or deterioration. But such control is possible only after conducting a normal, not remote inspection. The notes of the session carried out with the help of telemedicine technologies can be issued immediately, also in electronic form.

patient personal account

Finally, telemedicine allows signing an informed voluntary consent form. But for this, not only the doctor, but also the patient or his legal representative, who also has the right to sign this consent, must have an electronic signature. Consent is issued electronically only when the medical record contains information about the patient's legal representative.

Prospects of Patient Portals

The range of possibilities of smart medicine for maintaining the interaction of the clinic and the patient is growing every day. Special devices for monitoring health indicators and medical information are already being included in this process: mobile glucose meters, cardiac sensors and even portable pocket-sized ultrasound scanners. These devices can transmit information to a special mobile application or directly to the patient's electronic medical record.

The open access of portals for patients significantly increases the attractiveness and convenience of service in the clinic. Therefore, medical centers implementing smart medicine technologies gain an invaluable competitive advantage both due to the image component and due to the optimization of business processes.

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