Some years back, patients had restricted access to test results. A few curious patients may take a glance or two at an x-ray film, but most patients could not track changes in lipid, cholesterol, or blood sugar levels with ease.

Thanks to advances in health IT, web-based portals and apps give patients access to their test results. Data from the ONC shows that 92 percent of web portals give patients access to web results.

However, many patients who read these results seldom understand them. And some want to know how their results compare with those of the rest of the population.

That’s why we are offering these tips to help CIOs, providers, and practitioners to develop a lab results portal that meets the needs of today’s tech-savvy patients.

1. Ask Patients for Their Input

Few patient portals were designed with direct input from patients. So, there’s an urgent need for a user-centric interface that meets patients’ information needs.

Here are some suggestions to obtain valuable input from patients:

  • Put up a sample interface for evaluation
  • Ask users to critique it using a detailed survey
  • Provide an incentive for users who participate in the survey

2. Do Multiple Design Iterations

After receiving the first set of suggestions and ideas, do a new iteration of the portal interface. Let the users know that you have modified the interface based on their recommendations.

Ask the users to tell you whether it is more usable and if it meets their information needs. Use the feedback you receive to plan and implement new designs.

Be prepared to go through as many design iterations as necessary till you have one with minimal complaints.

3. Help Patients to Evaluate Test Results

Patients are happy to see their test results promptly. But they are more fulfilled when they can have some form of interpretation of the results.

Today, providing manually written result interpretations will require a considerable amount of labor. This may not be profitable for most providers.

While artificial intelligence (AI) can be deployed to provide a data-based narrative of results, its use is still in its infancy. In the meantime, you can offer a range of results for each demographic. Then, give a link from the results portal to a webpage that will allow the user to see whether their results fall within the normal range for their demographic.

For example, a Hispanic female patient who is 55 years old should be able to see whether the results for her lipid test are normal or abnormal compared to other females within her age bracket.

4. Add Links to Clinician Notes

A patient who doesn’t understand the meaning of her test results will need the assistance of a clinician for interpretation. Such service can be provided by a chat application, phone call, or through access to clinician notes.

After the doctor has commented on a particular test result, the portal can summarize the doctor’s comments and help the patient know whether their condition is normal, abnormal, or improving. Physician notes will increase patients’ ability to see the meaning of each test result.

5. Chart Patients’ Historical Results

Portals with visuals and data graphics like pie charts, line graphs, and range bars help patients understand new and historical test results.

It is easy to show a patient how their cholesterol levels have changed over the last three years with a line graph than to display the raw figures alone. A patient can see whether their cholesterol levels have increased, dropped, or remained stable.

Lab results portals are powerful tools to foster patient engagement and get patients to make intelligent decisions about their health. By putting patients first and obtaining regular feedback, you develop a portal that will satisfy your patients’ information needs.

See a Lab Results Portal in Action

To see how a well-designed patient portal works, contact Lifepoint Informatics at 877.522.8378 today. You can also reach us through our contact page to discuss your healthcare interoperability needs.