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Patient engagement portals: what are they?

Software is designed to make our lives easier. From tracking our fitness goals to finding healthy recipes, there’s an app for just about everything and everyone.

When software is combined with healthcare, it creates a holistic and integrated approach to patient care. Patient engagement portals (PEPs) empower patients/service users and improve the quality of care they receive.

If you’d like to find out more about how a PEP could help your patients and network of healthcare professionals, read on or book your free demo today.

What is PEP?

Patient engagement portals are an online way for patients to take back control of their healthcare. It’s a one-stop shop for patient empowerment where they can store information on their health, care, and wellbeing. 

Patients, and anyone involved in their care, can access and update their PEP, keeping everything in one place and up to date. 

As everyone has different levels of digital literacy, it’s important for any PEP to be accessible to patients who are less digitally savvy, considering guidelines like the UK government’s digital service design manual and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. 

It must also align with NHS informatics standards, like SNOMED, ICD10 or the Identity Verification and Authentication Standard.

Part of making PEPs accessible also means making it easy for patients and healthcare professionals to add new information. For instance, sharing the latest resources.

Explaining complicated medical terminology in a simple way, or linking to definitions from trusted sources in PEPs, means that patients can truly understand their situation and can process it in their own time.

Due to the sensitive nature of patient data, security is incredibly important to any PEP and following GDPR guidelines, DSP Toolkit and DTAC (Digital Technology Assessment Criteria) are also crucial to protect patient data. This will give NHS organisations reassurance that they can meet their statutory obligations and will encourage reluctant patients to feel more at ease using PEPs.

The more services a PEP connects with, the more it encourages patients so that they can take control of their health conditions. For example, connecting with wearable technology like smartwatches gives richer data and functionality. It may also connect with areas like social care to provide truly integrated care.

Who can benefit from PEPs?

PEPs improve healthcare experiences for everyone. Patients can find all the information they need in one place, meaning they can easily connect with healthcare professionals and get the latest information on their care.

Clinicians, meanwhile, can share relevant resources with patients, as well as accessing richer progress data, gaining easier access to refer to patients’ information and track their ongoing progress. 

As well as this, the additional use of technology can save healthcare providers time and money. Everything is kept in one place means no more hunting for paperwork, while the reduction in missed appointments reduces the millions lost every year to patient no-shows.

The benefits of PEPs

There are lots more benefits to PEPs for patients and healthcare providers. For example:

Patient empowerment

When faced with long-term health issues, it’s easy to feel out of control. Offering patients a way to regain control through self-guided care can help them feel calmer and better able to tackle their health challenges. This leads to better-activated patients who are fully engaged with their care improving compliance with medication and treatment plans.

Features to help with this may include symptom trackers so that they can see how far they’ve come; guided meditations, or links to where they can find meditations for free to take a brief break; or resources to grow their knowledge of their condition and improve their management of it.

Find the latest, trusted information

There’s so much information out there nowadays it can be impossible to know where to start and who to trust.

Including the latest health research in PEPs helps patients educate themselves on their condition(s). This can help alleviate their anxieties about what they’re going through, understand what treatments are available to them, and what could happen next.

It also frees up clinicians’ time because patients can find the answers to common questions. Providers then don’t have to repeat the same information to lots of different patients – they can point everyone to where they can find it instead.

Using a PEP, patients can digest information in their own time, at their own pace, instead of needing to process it all at once in a hospital or healthcare centre setting, which can be intimidating for some people, particularly after a new diagnosis.

Symptom tracking

Whatever condition someone is facing, being able to track their symptoms in an easy-to-find location, like their phone, helps them and their treatment team better visualise their situation. This data can then be used to inform what the next steps should be in a patient’s care.

Symptom tracking also builds patients’ confidence in their ability to handle the challenges that their health condition(s) brings. And means they can discuss pivoting the direction of their treatment with their team if necessary.

Easier connections with healthcare providers

Sometimes, it can be frustratingly difficult to get in touch with healthcare providers. Being able to message them through the portal means patients can get faster responses to their queries, and healthcare providers can respond in real-time.

Virtual appointments

Virtual appointments are much more accessible for people who can’t leave the house for any reason. They’re also cheaper than a healthcare professional making house calls.

For a phone appointment, patients can upload any relevant photos to the PEP in advance. Doctors can then review this image while discussing the patient’s symptoms with them.

Video appointments have the added benefit of doctors being able to see and speak to patients in real-time.

Appointment Reminders

In 2019, an NHS England report revealed that around 5% of NHS appointments are missed without enough notice to offer the slot to someone else. That’s around 15.4 million appointments gone to waste.

7.2 million of these missed appointments were with busy GPs, equating to 1.2 million GP hours wasted. Each of these appointments costs £30, which means the NHS loses £216 million due to missed appointments every year.

Appointment reminders help reduce this cost, keeping appointments at the front of patients’ minds and encouraging them to cancel or reschedule if they don’t need or can’t make their appointment. 

The time and money saved from these cancellations and rescheduled appointments can then be re-distributed and re-invested.

Medication and treatment reminders

Appointments aren’t the only thing that gets missed sometimes. If someone is taking a new medication, it’s easy to forget to take it at the required time. 

Sending a notification to remind someone to take their inhaler, for example, makes sure they’re getting their medication when they need it, and they can start to experience the benefits of it sooner.

Reminder to monitor their health

When someone sees an app on their phone, it can act as a reminder to use it. This encourages them to track their current symptoms, check out the latest resources, or book a follow-up appointment.

The future of PEPs

Great software makes people’s lives easier. In healthcare, it can improve the quality of patient care, mitigating their worries, tracking their symptoms, and connecting them with their healthcare providers.

In an increasingly digital world, patients are starting to expect digital solutions to their problems. We want things to happen faster, and healthcare should be no different, especially when it comes to life-changing or life-limiting conditions.

Software can make the lives of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers easier, too. 

PEPs store all patient files in one place, alongside patients’ self-reported symptoms. This information gives them a holistic view of everything that’s going on with a patient so that they have a more informed view before deciding on the best path of care.

The use of appointment reminders also reduces patient no-shows, saving money that can then be reinvested to further improve patient care.

Meet Maia

Our PEP, Maia, is flexible and adaptable, fully interoperable with other systems and easily configurable by the provider (NHS) and end users (patients, clinicians, and carers). This personalised experience caters to individuals’ needs and can be customised to the specific clinical priorities of each service within any healthcare provider. It’s an ecosystem and has a customisable template that supports patients’ health and wellbeing. 

Everything is brought into one place, encouraging patients to adopt positive behaviour change. It provides a digital front door to patients, enhancing relationships with their healthcare providers.

Our portals support and encourage patients to positively transform and improve their healthcare outcomes through:

  • Integration with health services to manage appointments
  • Connection to prescription medication system
  • NHS login for seamless authentication and sign-in 
  • Video conferencing
  • Pre-assessment questionnaires
  • Tools for self-monitoring
  • Health trackers connected to wearable devices
  • Secure messaging between patients, clinical teams, and carers
  • Sharing of health records and resources
  • Reminders and scheduled notifications

Maia is developed and co-designed with users to provide people with choice, control, and support to live independent lives. This means they get easily accessible, tailored care and support via the Maia portal.

With almost a decade of experience, Mindwave has extensive expertise in mental health for the elderly, adults, children, and young people.  Mindwave is certified to ISO 27001, ISO 9001, Cyber Essentials Plus, IASME Governance Standard, DSP Toolkit, DTAC and ICO registered.

We can provide a customisable and scalable product with a range of ongoing services including discovery, design, development, live service support and ongoing hosting and maintenance services. 

If you would like a demo, a friendly chat or even a sprinkle of free advice, get in touch!