ASC Marketing 101 – Tips to a Comprehensive Patient Portal

Posted Feb 27, 2024 under:

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A complete patient portal bring benefits to patients and physicians through automation and 24/7 access.

ASC Marketing 101

Are you using your patient portal as a way to maximize productivity and patient experience?

Welcome to ASC Marketing 101 by SCA Health. This series will focus on aspects of marketing that you or your center can enact to improve public perception and patient satisfaction.

A patient portal is another way for patients to access a centralized information hub, contact providers on demand, ensure proper documentation of their medical records, and more. Without it, patients may feel left in the dark regarding their care plan, leading to anxiety and stress.

How can ASCs ensure that their patient portal is practical and usable? Below are several aspects of a robust patient portal to consider against your existing system and its benefits to your overall patient experience.

Ease of Use & User Experience (UX)

One of the most significant benefits of a patient portal is the ability to access information 24/7. With only a stable internet connection, patients can seamlessly log in to the portal and see milestones before receiving care, confirm dates, and contact their care team. A strong user experience (UX) offers increased convenience and efficiency to patients and providers alike.

Healthcare It Today outlines four major points of an accessible patient portal UX:

  • Reducing the number of clicks needed to reach high-traffic pages
  • Grouping together items with a similar purpose
  • Using appropriate levels of white space
  • Good choice of font style and color visibility

The site adds that familiarity can be an additional aspect to improve ease of use for patients.

“Most users are familiar with using email systems such as Gmail, so labels and layouts that closely mimic an email system are most easily understood,” site guest author Dr. Bruce Bassi states.

A familiar look to buttons, dropdown bars, or other site elements can help limit inequalities towards those with lower technological literacy rates. Thus, design is vital to a complete and usable patient portal.

Tip Summary: Ensure your patient portal is designed with patients in mind. Offer multilingual options, reduce clicks to access essential pages, and create a design patients are generally familiar with.

Reduce Administrative Burdens

From a provider perspective, a strong patient portal can free up time typically lost to routine administrative work, such as scheduling appointments or prescribing prescription refills.

These tasks are simple yet can quickly take up substantial time as centers work to contact patients to compare schedules and set dates for future procedures. However, a robust patient portal can assist in this process from a center standpoint. A few easy clicks can help patients quickly identify preferred dates and set times for their appointments. This, in turn, frees up center staff to focus on other important issues, such as delivering patient care.

Prescriptions can also be refilled through a patient portal, allowing patients to quickly access and request refills through a system, which can then be automatically processed and sent to their preferred pharmacy.

Tip Summary: Ensure appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and other automatic processes are simple and easy to understand for patients. The result is less time spent on these basic administrative tasks for your staff.  

Improved Patient Communication

In addition to design elements, the patient portal can significantly improve patient communication. Secured communication (see Remaining HIPAA Compliant below) allows patients to directly message your center to ask for clarity on treatment plans or other, more complex questions rather than call and take time away from center staff.

For more common questions, an automated chatbot can assist patients in locating information within the patient portal, such as documents, or links to locations, such as scheduling assistants. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a common basis for these bots due to their ability to comprehend sentence structure and tone in a more complete manner than bots of the past. However, the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare remains undefined, and ASCs should take special care to ensure that the use of AI does not compromise protected healthcare information (PHI)`.  

This technology is another way patients can find information independently, rather than calling a center and asking for a walkthrough over the phone. Overall, this faster, more automated approach to patient communications benefits both centers and patients.

Tip Summary: If you do not currently have a chatbot, consider investing in this technology. If you already have a digital assistant, take appropriate steps to ensure it operates properly by performing routine maintenance and remains in compliance with HIPAA guidelines.

Remaining HIPAA Compliant

Ensuring HIPAA compliance is a must for healthcare providers operating a patient portal. The HIPAA Security Rule states that healthcare entities must take “reasonable and appropriate” cybersecurity measures to prevent the breach of sensitive patient data.

CompliancyGroup.com defines “reasonable and appropriate” as “measures taken within reason that are under proper circumstances.”

One aspect of HIPAA compliance includes the authentication of portal visitor credentials, known as the Person or Entity Authentication standard.

“This standard requires an organization to ‘implement procedures to verify that a person or entity seeking access to electronic protected health information is the one claimed,’” CompliancyGroup.com states.

Over the past several years, many healthcare providers have initiated multi-factor authentication (MFA) on top of routine login credentials, such as passwords, usernames, and a preselected knowledge question. Considering increased cyberattacks on healthcare cyber-infrastructure, providers must now be more diligent than ever in protecting sensitive patient information from unauthorized outside sources.

Along with taking their own steps, ASCs can partner with management organizations, such as SCA Health, that can assist in creating and implementing increased security measures to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Tip Summary: Implement required cybersecurity measures, such as multifactor authentication, to ensure HIPAA compliance. A corporate partner can also assist in meeting and exceeding these standards.

Conclusion

A strong patient portal can quell numerous issues concerning patient experience and satisfaction. A single, centralized location for documentation, appointment scheduling, and simple questions, secured following HIPAA-required standards, can save time and effort for ASC staff and physicians.

Resources:

Healthcare IT Today: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/2023/08/23/the-importance-of-patient-portal-usability/

Ambula.io: https://www.ambula.io/advantages-of-patient-portals/

Compliancy Group; https://compliancy-group.com/patient-portals-and-the-hipaa-security-rule/

Want to read more from our ASC Marketing 101 series? Check out past editions below:

A new way to think about Health Care

Create a next level experience for outpatients with modern facilities, high quality of care.

Doctors
Medical Team Performing Surgical Operation in Bright Modern Operating Room

Stories

Case Studies for the benefits of an integrated system