Client Portals: Parallel EHR Development

Why are client portals more important than you think?

Client portals create the means for the exchange of information between clients and clinicians. What was once considered a nice option for your EHR is becoming a necessity, however, not all portals offer the same features. It is important to make sure that when you are purchasing software, the portal that goes with it enhances the use of your EHR.

Client portals allow you to exchange information for clinical and administrative issues. They can be used to gather demographic and clinical information, collect insurance information, schedule appointments, and process payments. The portal can also be used for client and staff education. A client should be able to find information about their diagnosis and treatment. Staff should be able to use the portal to enhance their education or maintain certifications, collect patient family/social history and even monitor client wellness on a periodic basis. Clinical information may be integrated directly into the note for review by the doctor or staff. Client portals linked to a good EHR should aid in saving time in recording client conditions and history.

From a product development standpoint, client portals have been designed separately and then integrated into an existing EHR. Originally, they were developed as stand-alone products and then painstakingly interfaced with EHRs and medical billing systems. Often, the attempted integration did not work well. Most EHR companies are now developing portals for their products that bring together primary and behavioral health care.

When purchasing a system that includes a client portal, make sure the portal supports all of the features in the EHR. Many vendors have portals that meet the minimum requirements for Meaningful Use, and do not provide an efficient or effective way to collaborate with clients. For example, some client portals only support medical billing exchanges and do not deal with any clinical information. 

Ensuring your patient portal supports both your client and your team is critical for successful implementation. If your portal doesn’t integrate well or the staff finds it cumbersome, and clients find the information provided is not useful, no one will use it, and the opportunities to bring clients closer to their care are lost. 


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