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Patient Portal and PHR Info
PHR's and Patient Portals Examined

Web-Based Administrative Tools: 6 of 10 Critical Features of Patient Portals


Having web based administration tools to reset passwords, change login IDs, activate accounts, deactivate accounts, and to troubleshoot problems is critical to sustaining a Patient Portal with 10’s of thousands of patients.  The reason why these tools should be web-based is because you will likely outsource the help desk aspect of your portal since staffing one internally can be a huge undertaking.  Be sure to press your vendor on what tools are available to make supporting the patient portal sustainable.  Most don’t offer these tools and are not clear up front about how much money it costs to outsource a help desk.

If the admin tools are not web-based, you will spend much more money buying licenses for things like Citrix and your EMR (if the portal is linked to it) so you can provide access to your internal systems from the outside.  The tools should be secure, easy to use, and efficient.

Keep in mind that outsourcing your help desk isn’t cheap, especially if you are planning to roll-out your patient portal on a tight budget.  I have seen estimates from help desk services providers that require a $5,000-$10,000 setup fee, a monthly fee of $1500-$10,000, and a charge per call in the $20 range.


Web-based tools should allow for account look-ups, account verification, password resets, login ID changes, access code generation, account activation, and account deactivation.

Bonus: If your vendor provides the ability to track calls and take notes on each call, that is huge.  This will give you the ability to track help desk usage if you plan to keep it internal.

Questions to Ask

To Vendors

Are your clients typically outsourcing their help desks?

Do you have web-based admin tools?

What features does your admin toolkit provide?

How secure is the admin portion of the web portal?

Are there audit trails of admin user activity?

Can you track patient calls with your system?

For Patients

What are the business hours for the help desk?

When should I call the help desk?

Posted by Aaron Carlock on October 26th, 2009 :: Filed under Choosing a Patient Portal
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