The Meaningful Use program and its push for patient engagement have created a growing need for online patient portals. However, not all portals are equal in their ability to meet providers’ needs. To be a top patient portal vendor, software developers must consider things like MU Stage 2 requirements, ease of use, interoperability, and possibilities for future growth, including adding features for MU Stage 3.
Interoperability has gained significant importance in the past year. Despite pushback from major EHR vendors making it difficult for healthcare organizations to effectively share patient data, the need for interoperability is likely to continue to grow.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently laid out an interoperability roadmap, and it is also set to be a key component in MU Stage 3. The proposed rule for Stage 3 aims to:
- Improve interoperability by adopting new content standards for the structured recording and exchange of health information.
- Facilitate the accessibility and exchange of data by including enhanced data portability, transitions of care, and application programming interface (API) capabilities in the 2015 Edition Base EHR definition.
With interoperability becoming increasingly necessary for organizations seeking to improve care coordination and increase efficiency, companies that do not prioritize data exchange will lose customers to more innovative patient portal vendors.
Ease of Use
A recent study by HIMSS Analytics found that 80 percent of hospitals chose their patient portal software simply because it was offered by their EHR vendor. Many of these systems, however, are not designed with patients in mind and don’t provide useful features beyond Meaningful Use. Because of this, providers are turning to third-party vendors whose products have more intuitive user interfaces.
Top patient portal vendors must consider all end-users (providers, staff, and patients) in the design and development of their products. Systems that are too difficult to use or that don’t display data in easy-to-understand formats won’t get used by patients, preventing providers from achieving patient engagement and Meaningful Use goals.
Dedication to Client Success
Patient portal vendors cannot simply provide software anymore if they want to succeed. They must also strive to help providers engage patients in more meaningful ways, whether that means providing assistance with marketing the portal to existing patients or introducing features that streamline processes and drive operational efficiency. A good example of this is a feature that delivers a notification to staff when a patient fails to confirm a scheduled appointment. This provides an opportunity to contact the patient in order to avoid a missed appointment.
What else do you consider important for software companies striving to attain top patient portal vendor status?