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How to Use The Patient Portal

The Patient Portal is a method to provide a line of communication between practices and their patients. You can send messages directly to the patient, provide them access to their health records, assign forms for patients to fill out electronically, and allow them to schedule their own appointments with ease.

This article is intended to provide an overview of the basics of using Patient Portal from a practice's standpoint, and give some perspective on what the patient will see vs. how your office will interact with the Patient Portal.

Setting up the Patient Portal requires the assistance of MacPractice Support. Refer to the Setting Up the Patient Portal article for more information on setting up the Patient Portal. Once MacPractice Support has assisted you and your Portal is accessible via the provided URL, you can refer to this article to guide you in how to use the Portal.

Note: Some Portal features are add-ons to the basic Patient Portal license feature. We'll make sure to note which features are add-ons. If you have any questions or are interested in expanding your available Portal features, please contact MacPractice Accounting and we'll be happy to help.


Granting Patients Access to the Portal
The first step to grant patients access to their medical records and any assigned forms is to create and assign a Portal User to the patient's account.

To do this, you'll first navigate to the Patients Ability in MacPractice. Select your intended patient in the Patient Selector, and then navigate to the Patient tab. From there, you can select the Portal Access sub-tab in the bottom half of the Patients window. In the sub-tab, click the Green Plus.

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Adding a new Portal User
When you click the Green Plus in the Portal Access sub-tab, a window will open allowing you to select a Portal User. If you already had a Portal User set up, you could search for and select it here by using the search fields and double clicking the desired Portal User. However, you will likely want to create a unique Portal User for this particular patient.
To create a new Portal User, you'll click the Green Plus in the upper right corner of this window. A New record will be created. You'll need to set the patient's Username, First Name, and Last Name. A typical Username convention is to use the patient's name in lowercase letters, but anything can be used.

You'll also want to set a Phone Number and an Email. The Email field is especially important, as any Online EHR Forms sent to this patient will generate an email to notify the patient that they have forms waiting for them to fill out.

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Portal Users can also be managed in the References Ability- Portal Users node.

Once you've filled out these fields, you'll need to click the "Reset Password..." button to the right of the Username field. This will bring up a window where you can set the password for the patient, or you can choose to simply click the "Generate Password" button to have a randomized password generated for the patient. If no password is chosen, a Username and Password card will automatically be printed.    This card can be given to the patient so they have the credentials required to log in to their Patient Portal.

You can also check the "Print Portal Instructions" checkbox, which will generate a set of instructions that you can provide to the patient.

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If a Patient ever forgets their password, you can reset it from the Patients Ability > Patient Tab > Portal Access with the "Reset Password" button. This will also allow you to re-print the username/password card. You can also reset a portal user's password from References Ability > Patient Portal Users.

A single portal user can have access to multiple patients records by adding that portal user to another patient's Portal Access tab. This is convenient for families where you'd like to give a parent access to all of their children's records, or when you need to give access to a care giver that is responsible for the healthcare of a family. When they access the Portal, they will have the option to review each patient they have access to.

What The Patient Sees
When a patient first visits the Patient Portal, they will be presented with a log in page that will typically look like this:

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This page will be customized to contain your office's information. If you have any concerns about the information displayed, please contact MacPractice Support and we will be glad to help you adjust this information.

Summary Tab
Once logged in, a patient will be treated to the summary tab which lists any unread correspondence and upcoming appointments. The menu bar will also display specific sections for each patient that this Portal User has access to.
A first-time Portal User will be reminded to review their demographic information and to check for any forms assigned to that patient.

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From there, the Portal User can read and respond to messages, compose a new message, use Online Scheduling to schedule a new appointment or review any patient-specific information.

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Messages Tab and Direct Messaging
Under the Messages Tab, the patient will be able to review any correspondence they had received from your practice, and compose a new message to be delivered to any Provider that has Direct Messaging active. This will require that your office has Direct Messaging purchased.

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Any message sent to a Provider in MacPractice to their Direct Messaging e-mail will be deposited into the Messaging Ability in MacPractice. From the Messaging Ability, you can compose new messages, or respond to any message sent to the Provider. You can also include an attachment that will appear with the message that the patient can download.

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Messaging is explained more thoroughly in our How to Use Direct Messaging article.

Schedule Appointment Page and Online Scheduling
By clicking Schedule Appointment, a patient can utilize Online Scheduling to make an appointment. Online Scheduling is an excellent tool that allows a Patient Portal user to schedule appointments without having to call in, and thus, without the office staff having to schedule the appointment.
Setting up Online Scheduling requires taking some particular steps in order to configure and use it properly to restrict scheduling times. You can learn about these in Online Patient Scheduling.

Patient Tabs
When an individual patient is clicked on, some additional options are available in sections.

  • The Forms section contains any EHR forms submitted to the patient to be filled out.
  • The Patient Details section allows the user to view demographic information and submit changes. Submitting changes will generate an Order in MacPractice so the office has a chance to review those submitted changes.
  • The Health Records Section will contain all Clinical Summaries as CCDA documents. They will be able to view and download in a few formats, as well as send to another doctor if they also have a secure messaging e-mail available. Any completed forms will also be available here as well.

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  • The Appointments Section will display either Upcoming Appointments, or the Appointments in the last 30 days.  You can also schedule an appointment from here via Online Scheduling.
  • The Shared Files section contains any Attachments that have been sent to the Patient via the Portal and Direct Messaging. If you sent something to be intended to be shared with a patient, you'll direct them here.
  • The Access Log Section displays when this user's Patient Portal has been accessed recently.
  • The Health Record Corrections Section allows the user to request corrections be made to their information. This section also keeps track of the status of any Corrections request so the Portal user will know if a Correction request has been approved or denied.

Exporting Clinical Summaries to the Patient Portal
There are a few ways to upload Clinical Summaries to the Patient Portal. The main method is manual, however there is a way to set up exports after you create a claim, ensuring that a clinical summary is sent to the patient for each visit.

Exporting from the Clinical Tab
We can selectively choose which incidents we want to export to the Patient Portal from the Patients Ability > Clinical tab.

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When you click "To Patient", a confirmation prompt will appear, giving you the option to also print a Continuity of Care document. You can use the checkboxes on the left to limit which information is uploaded or printed. You can also scroll through the Clinical Summary to review what will be uploaded. When satisfied, click the 'Export' button.

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Exporting when Posting New Charges
You can also configure Preferences to prompt you to export a Clinical Summary every time you post a new charge. This might be useful for offices that wish to ensure they always have the latest information up to date on the Patient Portal without having to remember to manually export an incident.

If you wish to set this up, simply post a new charge and create a claim for this charge.

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The Claim Creation page has a checkbox labeled "Export Clinical Summary to the Patient Portal." MacPractice will remember if you have this option enabled or disabled. If you wish to always be prompted after creating a claim to post all the information to the Patient Portal, check this box. Otherwise, leave this box unchecked.

Exporting from the EHR Ability
If you have EHR purchased, you can also export Clinical Summaries from the EHR Ability.
Select the Incident you wish to export in the Sidebar, and then click on the Export Incident drop down menu in the upper right below the Referral Source field, highlighted in the below screenshot.

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Assigning EHR Forms to a Patient
If your office has EHR purchased, you can use the EHR Ability within MacPractice to upload and assign EHR forms to a patient for them to fill out on the Patient Portal. This way, you can have a patient easily fill out required forms digitally before a visit to save both your office and the patient time.
For more detail on how to Assign forms, please refer to EHR - Assign Registration Forms.

Sending Attachments to the Portal
In MacPractice Generation 10 and above, you're able to send and share attachments to a patient's record on the Patient Portal. Doing so is quite easy.

First you'll need to make sure that the Attachment in question is associated with the Patient account you wish to share the attachment to.

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Then, in the Attachments Ability, in the upper right hand corner, there is a "Share to Portal" checkbox you'll need to check.

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This will ensure when the patient accesses their records via the Patient Portal, this attachment will be available. They will be located in the "Shared Files" tab on the Patient Portal, as shown in the screenshot below.

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Handling Demographic Corrections in MacPractice
A patient or Portal User can submit corrections to their demographic information should they need to update it or if it is incorrect. This is handled differently depending on whether you have Online Registration purchased on your MacPractice license.

Without Online Registration
On the Portal, the Portal User can navigate to the Patient they wish to adjust demographics for, then select the Corrections tab and fill out the "Request a Correction" form...

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Or they can click the "Request a Correction" button when on the Demographics tab. This will take them to the Corrections tab and the "Request a Correction" form.

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In either situation, an Order will be generated in MacPractice for the Correction Request.

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The Order will have the Subject Line that was entered into the required Subject field on the Correction form. The Order's Long Description will contain the information that was entered into the Message field.
This order isn't assigned to anyone by default.
The Order Type will be "Correction".

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To resolve this Order, simply make the indicated change on the associated Patient's demographics. You can then set the Order's Status to Approved. This will update the Patient Portal and show that the changes were approved.
You can also set the status to Denied, which will update the portal indicating that the changes were denied.

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With Online Registration
The process with Online Registration is very similar. The appearance of the Patient Portal is slightly different with Online Registration. Instead of navigating to the Demographics tab, you'll instead see a "Register" tab. Click on that.

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From here, click the "View/Change" button by "Patient Demographic Information". The button is located in the upper right.

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From here, the Portal User will adjust whichever information is inaccurate. When complete, click the "Submit Form" button at the bottom.

This will generate another Order within MacPractice, similar to the Order above but with the subject "Demographic Correction".

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The "Update Patient..." button in the lower right will update the Patient record with any changes. You may need to refresh in order to see the changes reflected in MacPractice.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Brit Wolff

    The Register sub tab has since been renamed to just Forms.

  • Avatar
    Julie Hill

    Patient Demographics have been moved to the Patient Details tab and when the office has Online Registration the "I need to make a change" button will create an order which can be auto-updated into the patient chart, just like the old Register workflow detailed above.