Earlier this year, the New York eHealth Collaborative launched a competition for the best usability and design for a statewide patient portal. This project was part of a larger undertaking in partnership with the New York Department of Health to help New Yorkers manage their health care by leveraging Healthcare Information Technology. Several companies and individuals entered the competition and the top nine concepts (based on public online voting) were then sent to an expert panel of judges to select the first, second, and third place winners.

Features of Great Patient Portal Design

The three winners had several design and usability elements in common from a best practices perspective:

  • Stripped-down intuitive interface. Mana Health leveraged large button icons with the most important patient data, iHealthNY was largely driven by a Google-like search box, and MyHealthProfile shared that their pared-down interface tested much better with patients in focus groups in the early design stages.
  • Security and Control. Users were very nervous about their personal health information being viewed or shared without their consent. All three winning designs made it very easy for users to see who has access to their information, when that information was last accessed, and turn off access with one button click.
  • Easy to Share. While security of their information was important to users, so was the ability to share their medical information with providers (to get second opinions) or family members (to help manage others’ health care). All three winners made sharing via secure email a one-click process.
  • Mobile-friendly. All three concepts were accessible via desktop, laptop, Apple and Android devices. Understanding that over 50% of all computer time is spent on a mobile device was a core foundation of all design work.

Design Shaped by Patients, For Patients

One of the most interesting features of this competition was the crowdsourcing to choose finalists – actual New Yorkers were encouraged to vote for their favorite concepts in the semi-final round. Considering that there were over 20 portal videos to watch and review, a voter likely watched at least 30 minutes of video concepts before voting. Even outside of the competition, MyHealthProfile mentioned that they had used focus groups throughout to ensure that everything they were building in their patient portal met the needs of the end user.

What This Means for Revenue Cycle Management

While your hospital may be at different stages of empowering patients to manage their own health care online, your billing and payment processes should follow these same basic concepts. Interfaces should be simple, easy-to-read, and mobile-friendly. The ability to receive and pay statements via secure online portal for all devices, desktop and mobile, is essential.


About the Author

April Wilson has a long history of measuring and optimizing customer communication for top brands, and she has built her career around evangelizing the power of data and using consumer insights to change behavior.

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