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What is a Patient Portal and How Does it Work?

  • Written By: Cheyenne Kolosky
What is a Patient Portal and How Does it Work

The age of remote healthcare is here, and patient portals are at the forefront of this revolution. A patient portal is a personalized, secure online platform that gives patients unprecedented control over their healthcare journey from their computer or mobile device. 

Here, we’ll delve into the nuts and bolts of patient portals, exploring their features, benefits, and how to navigate them effectively. Keep reading to learn more about how you can simplify your healthcare management operations and provide streamlined services to your patients.

What is a Patient Portal?

A patient portal is essentially a personalized website geared towards healthcare. It serves as a one-stop digital platform that caters to the unique health requirements of individual patients. These portals enable patients to access their medical history, book appointments, view test results, communicate with healthcare providers, and much more, all from the comfort of their own space.

When it comes to the technical requirements for operating a medical portal, the basics are relatively straightforward. Patients will need a computer or a compatible mobile device and a stable internet connection.

Users typically go through a simple registration process to create an account. This may include verifying their identity and setting up secure login credentials. After registering, they can navigate the portal to manage their healthcare more efficiently and effectively.

Benefits of a Patient Portal

One of the standout benefits offered by some patient portals is the option for e-visits. This feature allows patients to consult healthcare providers online for minor issues without taking a physical trip to the clinic. 

For instance, if a patient has a small wound or rash they are concerned about, they can take a picture and consult a healthcare provider through the portal. This feature saves time and potentially reduces healthcare costs while delivering the guidance they need.

For parents, a significant benefit of patient portals is that they offer another layer of convenience. Until their child turns 18, parents can access their child’s patient portal, enabling them to manage appointments easily. This feature is helpful for everything from tracking immunization schedules to keeping tabs on ongoing treatments, making it easier for parents to stay engaged in their child’s well-being.

Another benefit of patient portals is that they can act as automated systems by sending out reminders and alerts. These can range from upcoming appointments to medication schedules, ensuring patients do not overlook vital aspects of their healthcare.

How to Use a Patient Portal

Setting up and using a patient portal is typically a straightforward process. Here’s a quick example of how a patient portal might work:

  1. Register for an Account: Most portals will have a “Sign Up” button on their homepage. Patients will click this to start the registration process.
  2. Verify Your Identity: Patients usually need to provide some basic information to verify their identity, such as their date of birth or a patient ID.
  3. Create a Username and Password: Patients will be asked to choose a username and a strong password to secure the account.
  4. Confirm Your Email: A verification link will often be sent to the patient’s email. They will have to click this link to activate their account.
  5. Log In: Patients can use their new username and password to log into the portal.

Once inside, patients can find a range of features tailored to improve their healthcare experience:

  • View Medical Records: Access medical history, test results, and other vital records.
  • Schedule Appointments: Use the portal to set or modify appointments without calling the office.
  • Refill Prescriptions: Request refills of medication right from the portal.
  • Communicate with Providers: Use the secure messaging feature to talk to healthcare providers.
  • Pay Bills: Many portals offer a way to view and pay medical bills online.

One of the key features of medical portals is secure messaging, which allows you to communicate with your healthcare providers without worrying about the privacy of your information. 

These platforms are HIPAA-compliant, ensuring that your conversations are encrypted and confidential.

Patient Portals as Healthcare Solutions

Patient portals provide robust solutions to a range of healthcare-related challenges. For example, these medical portals offer an organized platform for tracking medical records, which can be challenging to manage.

Healthcare portals also make it possible to diagnose minor issues remotely, saving patients the time and effort associated with in-person visits.

However, it’s crucial to note that patient portals cannot replace emergency medical services. They’re most effective for communication and sharing information that isn’t time-sensitive.

In terms of developing a patient portal for healthcare settings, many providers are relying on no-code platforms to create seamless healthcare management solutions and no-code healthcare apps. No-code tools like Knack allow healthcare organizations to build customized, efficient, and secure patient portals.

By leveraging a no-code database, organizations can quickly implement features such as appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and secure messaging, all while ensuring HIPAA compliance and robust data security.

Build a Patient Portal with Knack in 10 Quick Steps

Building a patient portal in Knack involves several steps, and it’s important to note that the specific features and functionality you want in your portal may vary. Here’s a general walkthrough of how you can create a basic patient portal using Knack:

  1. Sign Up for Knack: If you haven’t already, sign up for a Knack account. Knack offers a free trial, and you can choose a plan that suits your needs.
  2. Create a New App: Once you’re logged in, click on the “Apps” tab and then click “Create New App.”
  3. Define Your Database In the app builder, you’ll need to create a database to store patient information. To do this:
    1. Click on “Database” in the left sidebar.
    2. Click the “New Object” button and define your patient database structure. You may include fields like Name, Address, Contact Information, Medical History, etc. Be sure to include any information relevant to your patient portal.
  4. Create Pages: Now, you’ll need to create pages for your patient portal. These pages will include login and registration forms, as well as the main patient dashboard. To create a page:
    1. Click on the “Pages” tab in the left sidebar.
    2. Click “Add Page” and choose the type of page you want to create (e.g., Registration, Login, Dashboard).
  5. Design Your Pages: Design your pages to match your desired patient portal layout. You can use Knack’s visual editor to customize the look and feel of your pages.
  6. Create User Authentication: To allow patients to log in securely, set up user authentication:
    1. Click on “User Roles” in the left sidebar.
    2. Create user roles like “Patient” and “Admin.”
    3. Configure user role permissions, ensuring that patients can access their own data but not others’.
    4. Set up login and registration forms on the respective pages you created earlier.
  7. Build the Patient Dashboard: Your patient dashboard is where patients can view and interact with their data. To build this:
    1. Create a new page or edit an existing one for the patient dashboard.
    2. Use Knack’s widgets to display patient data from the database.
    3. Include features like appointment scheduling, medical records, prescription requests, and any other functionalities you want.
  8. Implement Data Security: Ensure that patient data is stored and transmitted securely. Knack can provide security features, such as SSL encryption and access control, to protect sensitive information and ensure HIPAA-Compliance.
  9. Test Your Portal: Before launching your patient portal, thoroughly test it to ensure that all features work as expected and that user data is secure.
  10. Launch Your Patient Portal: Once you’re satisfied with your portal’s functionality and design, you can launch it for your patients to access.

Patient Portals and the Healthcare Industry

To sum it up, patient portals are transformative tools in the healthcare industry, designed to enhance patient-provider communication, streamline administrative processes, and ultimately empower patients to take charge of their healthcare.

These portals offer a range of features—from e-visits and appointment scheduling to medication refills and secure messaging—all aimed at making healthcare management more efficient and accessible. As technology continues to evolve, platforms like these are setting the standard for the future of digital healthcare. 

If you want to adopt this technology in your healthcare facility, start building with Knack for free.