Your Ultimate Guide to Unlocking the Benefits of Patient Portals
Interview with Bethany Baughman, RN BSN CPN, and at Medicat.
Is your school considering switching to an EHR and wanting to learn more about how the Patient Portal would work? Or are you a current client looking for some more tips and tricks on best utilizing the Patient Portal? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
One of our amazing Customer Onboarding Specialist Bethany Baughman, has helped over 70 schools implement the Patient Portal. She’s even implemented Medicat from the college perspective, during her tenure as a nurse at the University of Tulsa’s Health Center. Continue reading to become a Patient Portal expert!
1. In simple terms, how would you describe the Patient Portal?
The Patient Portal is an online tool that allows students to log in and:
- Securely communicate with their provider(s)
- Enter immunization records and view their compliance status
- Schedule appointments across multiple clinics
- Upload documentation to their record
- Complete any required forms
2. Does the Patient Portal integrate with most Student Information Systems?
Yes, the portal does integrate with most SIS systems. This is especially helpful when it comes to billing student accounts. Plus, we’re able to create student profiles in the Patient Portal based on information imported from the SIS (Demographic Feed). We work with the school to set this up as soon as the onboarding process begins.
3. What features of the portal do you think are most helpful?
- Self-scheduling based on clinic parameters:I think this is an underutilized functionality because the clinics we work with are not used to exposing their calendars to their campus population. However, there are a lot of opportunities to put controls in place so that self-scheduling works for your particular clinic and/or campus. College students are already using apps and websites to schedule appointments these days, so they really do enjoy having the option to schedule an appointment online.
- Utilizing secure messaging:I love that Medicat keeps a record of the provider-student interaction in the chart. It saves the step of copying and pasting emails into a patient record. Plus, it keeps communications private, since email is not a secure or HIPAA-compliant mode of communication.
- Simplified prescription refills: Prescription refill forms can be completed on the portal and sent directly to providers for review. I love this feature, not just for prescription refills, but also for Request for Services for Access/Disability Services Clinics and This really can remove barriers to services.
- Sending educational resources to students post-visit: I used this feature a lot in my clinic when I was working as a nurse. I created educational handouts for all sorts of things, then added them to a note so they’re available for the student to view on the portal at any time. Rather than giving students paper handouts that get left on the counter in an exam room, or shoved at the bottom of their backpacks, students can simply use their phones to access relevant educational resources on the portal.
4. Do you have specific tips for helping a Student Health Clinic maximize the power of the Patient Portal?
Of course! One of my favorite tips is using the portal to collect subjective data related to the patient’s issue prior to the appointment with appointment-specific forms. This better prepares providers for the appointment and helps save time!
5. Any specific tips for Counseling Centers?
Be open-minded about the features that are available. You can start small and add on to the features you utilize as you become more comfortable with the system and its options.
6. What about tips for Immunization Compliance?
I’ve had clients make videos to walk students through the process of submitting their Immunization Records. This can help reduce the amount of cleanup that needs to be done for student records with duplicate entries, etc. Check out this awesome tutorial a student from Eastern University created to show other students how to use their school’s Patient Portal.
Bethany’s Advice for ALL Clinics: The more you reference the portal and send students to the portal, the more they will utilize it! It can be as simple as being firm on not accepting any documents or appointments that are not submitted via the portal.
7. What efficiency or productivity gains have you seen from a clinic implementing the Patient Portal?
So much time is saved by allowing your students to self-schedule appointments, submit their immunization records, and upload supporting documentation via the portal. This allows clinic staff to spend more time listening to a student’s concerns, planning outreach events, and analyzing clinic-wide reports. In other words, your clinic will have the space and time to grow, rather than just trying to make it through each day on schedule.
8. Is there a feature you feel is underused that more clients would benefit from?
- Self-Scheduling: There are so many controls around self-scheduling, but many people don’t want to feel like they’re “losing control” of their schedules. I think that the campus populations are pretty tech-savvy and can navigate more than we think.
- Subjective data collection prior to the appointment: This is a powerful way to gather information ahead of the appointment so that providers are better prepared for the appointment. Plus, the clinic tends to run more efficiently.
In conclusion, the Patient Portal stands at the forefront of healthcare’s digital revolution, offering a myriad of benefits for both students and providers. The portal has transformed the way patients access and interact with medical information, fostering greater transparency, convenience, and engagement. From secure messaging, self-scheduling, and simplified prescription refills, the Patient Portal can make a significant impact on your clinic’s workflow.