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What Does a Comprehensive Behavioral Health Patient Portal Look Like?

3 Minute Read

All behavioral health patient portals are designed with the same intent: to empower the patient in their healthcare journey. From a secure online portal, patients can access appointment information, test results, discharge summaries, progress notes, and more.

While electronic access to patient records is the baseline for patient portals, the features of a comprehensive behavioral health patient portal extend far beyond that. A patient portal should accommodate online registration and scheduling, telehealth services, online bill payments, secure messaging, and educational resources.

1. Online Registration & Scheduling

When patients were given the option to self-schedule appointments online, one study showed that nearly 30% did so outside of typical staff scheduler hours. These results underscore the value of a patient portal that includes online scheduling capabilities. Rather than having to be tethered to limited office hours and being on hold, patients can quickly schedule their appointment at a time that is most convenient to them.

A current patient enjoys the convenience of being able to schedule their next mental health service appointment online

Naturally, a first visit to a mental health clinic warrants filling out new patient forms. Or it could be that a current patient has to confirm/update their information. This step should be built into a comprehensive behavioral health patient portal. While staff save themselves the headache of manually inputting data, patients have less to worry about upon arrival to their appointment.

2. Support for Telehealth Services

Telehealth services have expanded significantly throughout the healthcare space, with behavioral healthcare being no exception. According to one study, the percentage of mental health facilities providing telehealth services jumped from 39.4% in Q2 of 2019 to 88.1% in Q3 of 2022. And for many other facilities, telehealth service conversations are on the table.

A comprehensive behavioral health patient portal should support telehealth appointments in the same way it would other appointments. Patients should be able to schedule telehealth appointments online and receive automated appointment reminders so they can confirm or reschedule. When it’s time for the appointment, it’s ideal for patients to be able to join the meeting from the convenience of the patient portal. Fewer steps for setup translates into greater satisfaction.

3. Online Bill Payment Option

When patients advocate for digitized healthcare, it includes the way they pay for services rendered. In a survey of over 2,500 consumers, nearly one-third reported that they paid a medical bill in the past year via an online portal. Interestingly enough, the results show that this percentage is spread across a range of demographics, from digitally sophisticated Gen Z-ers to baby boomers.

While a patient portal allows electronic health record access, it can also feature an online payment option that makes it easy for patients to pay for a treatment

While social distancing and safety demands drove up demand for digital healthcare payment options during the pandemic, it’s clear the interest is here to stay — and a patient portal can support it. Patients can enjoy the ease of paying bills without staff intervention, with a receipt automatically sent to them. Staff should also be automatically notified of the payment, with the payment recorded in the patient portal for the client’s reference.

4. Secure, HIPAA-Compliant Messaging

There are a number of reasons a patient might want to reach out to a mental health provider between appointments. It could be for clarification around a treatment plan, questions about their medication, or simply to share some news about their progress. Whatever the case may be, patients should know where to turn when contact needs to be made.

Rather than introducing a new app or other messaging system, it’s beneficial when a patient portal is the platform that enables secure, HIPAA-compliant communications. Patients can quickly communicate with mental health providers on an individual scale, in the comfort of a platform they already know and often use. This streamlined messaging system makes it easier for patients to educate themselves about their health, which can in turn support better patient outcomes.

Not quite ready to allow patients to reach you in this way? It’s equally important to make sure your portal can be configured to prevent this type of communication until you’re properly positioned to enable this type of access.

5. Access to Educational Resources

Research shows that patients who receive educational resources are more likely to report a better patient experience. What’s more, 68% said it increases the likelihood they’ll return to a provider.

A patient is able to access educational resources online for treatment information specific to depression

Patient education resources can come in many forms: video clips, research articles, newspaper stories, and so on. Rather than emailing or printing these resources, it’s helpful to have a patient portal that makes these resources instantly available to patients. With immediate access to mental health resources and a platform to transmit them, your staff will have an easy time supplying patients with more of the content they want.

The ClinicTracker EHR satisfies every expectation of a comprehensive behavioral health patient portal. Learn more about how our patient portal empowers patients and clinics alike.