Patient Portals have become a feature of Practice Management Software in recent years, with many suppliers offering versions of them to their customers. Since 2020 and the impact of COVID on patient behaviour, a Patient Portal has become a core essential of any clinic’s offer to its patients.
But what actually is a Patient Portal and how should they actually be used as business growth and patient engagement tools?
Put simply, a Patient Portal is a direct online connection between a patient and your practice that allows them to access whatever services you have made available to them, and allows you to access them with targeted communications. The Patient Portal is a secure, privileged connection that is not available to the general public and shortcuts a call to reception, emailing or messaging.
For the patient, the key advantage is of convenience - they can make fast and direct contact with the Clinic and, the more services that you make available through the Portal, the more convenience they can enjoy. This access is 24/7 - whenever they need it, rather than just whenever you are open.
For the Clinic, a quality Patient Portal can provide a powerful tool for improving the customer experience of patients, delivering improved outcomes, and ultimately retaining and growing your patient base. With a critical mass of patients using a Portal, it will also save admin time and money in appointment booking, payment processing and other functions across your practice.
The key to real and deep patient engagement through a Portal is the range of services that you are able to offer through it. The more that you can offer, then the stronger the relationship you can develop through it.
- Appointment booking
This is the core service that any Patient Portal should offer to a clinic. The ability for a patient to book an appointment online at any time offers real convenience and is a powerful incentive to get patients signed up to your Portal. You will need to manage factors such as diary blocking and taking deposits to reduce any FTA risk, but once you have a smooth online appointment booking process you will never look back.
- Payment processing
Not only very useful for taking deposits for online appointments, online payments offer huge convenience for patients and clinics. Patients should be able to make payments for treatments, plans and products through the Portal. You can also alert them to overdue payments and set up payment plans for large treatments.
- Secure signing
A good quality Patient Portal will offer secure e-signing of documents, allowing patients time to review treatment plans, complete medical histories and return them as legally signed documents to the Practice - all from their own device in their own time, with the time and space that they need to give accurate information.
- Update information
A simple but very useful function of a Patient Portal is to allow patients to keep all of their details and clinical information up to date - never lose contact with a patient again. You can also use the portal to inform patients of changes at the practice - whether to the practice team, contact details or in the case of emergency measures such as has been the case with COVID opening hours and services.
- Video consultation
The best Patient Portals will use the secure connection with the patient to offer built in video consultations for triage, pre & post treatment care and patient education. These services offer real added value to patients, improve outcomes and give real competitive advantage to your Clinic.
- Targeted sales and business growth
The more functionality that you can offer to your patients, the deeper the relationship that you can develop with them through the Portal. Using the business metrics and data analysis tools on your Practice Management Software, you can identify patient spends, trends, and behaviours and use the Portal to target them directly with specific offers, promotions, and services of value. The trusted relationship that effective use of the Portal fosters makes this a powerful sales channel if used appropriately.
Patient Portals were already a key tool for any progressive Clinic, but in the COVID and Post-COVID era they have become essential for safer, quicker and cleaner working practices that really offer high levels of care and connection for patients, wherever they are. Optimised correctly, a Patient Portal is probably the most important tool for practice growth that any Clinic can have.
Find out more about the AeronaClinic Patient Portal here