The journey to implement technology in patient care isn’t new, but in the last few months, it has taken several leaps forward as more practices and providers were forced to offer remote care when clinics could no longer see patients in person. Clinics shifted toward telemedicine and telehealth to maintain contact with patients, continue to bring in revenue, and try to limit long-term negative impacts of clinic shutdowns.
If your clinic has struggled to maintain contact with patients, especially those with significant healthcare needs, a patient portal could be a great way to bridge the gap when in-person appointments are not safe, not feasible, or not allowed due to COVID-19. Portals offer several features that make remote care a little easier.
One of the biggest challenges right now for patients who have healthcare needs unrelated to COVID-19 is limited access to healthcare facilities. Even those who might be able to go to a clinic that is open and has a provider available might not feel comfortable doing so, especially if they are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Those patients often still need care, and even simple questions or concerns could quickly spiral into serious health needs if left unaddressed.
Patient portals allow those individuals to message providers and clinical staff directly with questions (both medical and non-medical). You and your staff can triage the situation to determine if the patient needs some form of outreach, such as a telemedicine appointment or a phone call. If you’re worried that patients who need urgent or emergency care could be at risk by using the messaging feature instead of seeking care, the portals alert patients to call 911 for emergencies rather than sending a message that may not be read for an extended period of time.
Medication Refill Requests
Millions of patients still need medication refills, but with some clinics understaffed or operating on shortened hours, a patient may have a hard time calling in to reach someone about his or her refill. Patient portals allow someone to easily request a refill any time of the day or night, and you or your staff can approve it electronically, then send the information straight to the pharmacy without any phone calls.
Online or App-Based Bill Pay
Patients who do see you for a telehealth appointment, or who have outstanding bills from previous visits can use the portal to pay if your portal is integrated with your medical billing, EHR, and practice management systems. Information from the visit is automatically sent to billing, and once the payer portion is complete your patients get a notification of outstanding amounts due. They can pay directly through the portal. Again, with shorter hours or lower staff levels and fewer people to take phone calls, online bill pay is essential for payment collection. Plus it’s convenient for patients who can pay anytime and not just during business hours.
Find out more about patient portals and how the AdvancedMD system can integrate your scheduling, practice management software, EHR, medical billing, patient portal, and more for streamlined management and better patient care.