How patient portals are useful for physicians?



Patient portals are hot in demand these days. Almost every EMR vendor is offering this facility along with their product as physicians look to meet advanced regulatory requirements and improve patient engagement.
But patients are not the only beneficiary of these portals. Physicians are also benefiting as they are improving their workflows and practice efficiencies. A complete, All-in-One solution for providers which offers patient portals is CureMD EMR. Click here to learn more about it.


Let’s take a look at how patient portals are beneficial for physicians:

1.       Patient satisfaction: One of the most important aspects for physicians these days is to ensure complete patient satisfaction and engagement. They are doing that by using systems which are capable of offering patient portals and helping them improve delivery of coordinated care.  

2.       Reduced hassle: Not only the patients are able to view their medical health data by accessing patient portals, the physicians can also exchange messages with their patients and set up appointments.

3.       Sharing with referring providers: Another advantage of patient portals is that patient data can be shared with every stakeholder in the healthcare continuum including referring providers, etc.

4.       Streamlined workflows: Through patient portals, automation of administrative and operational processes through online personal healthcare system is made possible.

5.       HIPPA compliance: While patient portals are used largely to improve shared decision making, they are also used to comply with HIPAA information security certifications and regulatory requirements such as Meaningful Use Stage 2. 

6.       Disease management: Through automated, condition-specific messages, reminders and alerts, disease management becomes easy for providers.

7.       Higher ratings: Physicians can improve their patient-satisfaction ratings if they are using a top-of-the-line patient portal. 

These are some of the features of patient portals which are not only beneficial for patients, but also for providers.

How can practices ensure complete security of patient data?


To ensure security of patient data, a practice needs to make sure that its health IT system is working smoothly. The EHR system of the practice should be HIPAA and HITECH compliant. It will prove that the practice is following up with the standards set by the government.
There are administrative, physical and technical safeguards that the practice can take for the protection of PHI. Let’s look into some of them.

Administrative safeguard: It refers to the steps and procedures made by your practice to guard and secure patient information. The administrative safeguards in the HIPAA Privacy Rule:


          Relevant information systems should be identified
          Risk assessment reports should be conducted
     Risk management program should be implemented

 

The data of patients going through the treatment of HIV/AIDS needs to be especially safeguarded when assessing the risk of unauthorized use or disclosure. Any disease that is a social taboo needs to be especially taken care of in terms of privacy. It is an important step in maintaining the security of the overall system. 

Physical Safeguards: These are measures taken by the practice to protect damage of hardware equipment and the facility that stores Protected Health Information (PHI). Both electronic and paper-based medical records face security issues related to patient information. The key steps that could be taken to ensure security policies and procedures are in place include:
 
      Access control—Limitations should be placed in order to secure PHI storage houses. Only authorized personnel should be allowed access to the facility. 
  
      Data storage house—The storage space should be built where the general staff members do not usually visit. It will ensure security as the traffic of the employees around the PHI storage space will be reduced.

      Security of workstation—Security procedures should be put in place in terms of appropriate use of workstations. They should be properly locked up when employees are not working. It will make sure the data on the systems remains safe.

Technical Safeguards: It deals with security measures that are built into practices’ health IT system to protect PHI and control access to it. It includes encryption and decryption of electronic data. It also involves safeguarding against unauthorized access while the data is being transferred from one system to another. Let’s look into three procedures.

·         Control through audit—The activity taking place in health IT systems should be recorded and examined that contain or use PHI. It will ensure technical safeguard of the system. 

·         Alteration—In order to protect PHI from any kind of inappropriate change or in extreme cases destructions, policies and procedures should be placed in order to authenticate PHI.

·         Transmission of data—Security procedure should be placed in order to guard the system against unauthorized access to PHI. The transmission of data rules should be made clear to the employees from day one. Data shared over networks can be accessed by outsider if security is lacking, therefore it should follow proper procedures to ensure security.

Practice should prevent any kind of unauthorized access to the practice at all costs. Since the data of the practice is a cesspool of patient information that needs to be taken care of properly.