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The athenaOne Suite which includes athenaCollector a revenue cycle management solution and athenaClinials an EHR (electronic health records) recently ranked #1 in 2023 Best in KLAS for athenaClinials Ambulatory EMR for 11-75 physi...Read more about athenaOne

3.8 (823 reviews)

303 recommendations


RXNT’s cloud-based, ONC-certified medical software—Billing, Practice Management, EHR, and more—improves clinical outcomes & revenue cycle management. Simple, transparent pricing includes free setup and training, free data transfer...Read more about RXNT

4.3 (406 reviews)

276 recommendations

Elation Health

Elation Health is the most trusted technology platform for high-value primary care. Since 2010, the company has delivered clinical-first solutions — built on a collaborative EHR platform — that help practices start, grow, communic...Read more about Elation Health

4.4 (51 reviews)

44 recommendations

NextGen Office

NextGen Office is an award-winning, cloud-based, clinical and billing solution designed for smaller, independent practices (≤ 10 providers). This all-in-one, full-service solution includes specialty-specific EHR content, an easy-t...Read more about NextGen Office

4.0 (1253 reviews)

21 recommendations

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Nexus is an ONC 2015 Edition certified cloud-based ambulatory EHR and PM platform. It is designed for small to midsize practices and a variety of specialties including orthopedics, neurology, podiatry, cardiology, general surgery,...Read more about Nexus

4.6 (9 reviews)

17 recommendations


CareCloud Inc. offers an integrated electronic health recording (EHR) solution–Charts–that provides collective benefits of EMR, practice management and medical billing services. Charts helps physicians to streamline clinical opera...Read more about CareCloud

3.5 (105 reviews)

8 recommendations


LeadSquared is a cloud-based marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) solution for businesses of all sizes. It serves clients in industries such as finance, e-commerce, education, health and wellness, market...Read more about LeadSquared

4.3 (156 reviews)

6 recommendations

Office Practicum

At OP, we know you want to be a champion for your patients. But in order to do that, you need a hassle-free EHR that moves at the speed of kids. The problem is you are tangled in the complexity of running a pediatric practice whil...Read more about Office Practicum

4.2 (276 reviews)

5 recommendations

Nextech EHR & PM

For more than 20 years, Nextech has provided a full-featured EMR and Practice Management solution within a single database. This system is a fit for dermatologists, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, and physicians, and is used b...Read more about Nextech EHR & PM

4.0 (193 reviews)

4 recommendations

Benchmark Solutions Practice Management

Benchmark Practice Management streamlines workflows and improves front and back-office operations to reduce errors, improve patient care, all while boosting revenues. This approach is made possible with a time-tested IT infrastruc...Read more about Benchmark Solutions Practice Management

4.8 (135 reviews)

4 recommendations


ClearGage offers comprehensive cloud-based healthcare payment solutions designed to cater to the needs of small to midsize healthcare organizations. Our platform is HIPAA and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)...Read more about ClearGage

4.4 (21 reviews)

1 recommendations


SimplePractice is a cloud-based practice management system built to make the business side of private practice easier. Our easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant software helps health and wellness professionals automated their day-to-day...Read more about SimplePractice


TheraNest is an HIPAA compliant web-based mental health solution used by solo practitioners, large mental health practices, and nonprofit organizations. The solution is suited for therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and soci...Read more about TheraNest


Launch your Behavioral Health Telemedicine program today. Mend is the #1 cloud-based CCBHC / CMHC communication solution that enables patients and providers to connect and share files, messages, assessments, photos and data. Use...Read more about Mend


Pabau's all-in-one software is built to handle everything that clinics (both large and small) need to run smoothly. Forget spreadsheets, integrations, paper notes and scanning — do it all from one easy to use tool. - Save 12+ ...Read more about Pabau


Jane is a practice management solution that helps health and wellness clinics streamline operations related to appointment booking, billing, charting and more. It allows patients to view and choose services, treatments and practit...Read more about Jane


IntakeQ is an online forms intake platform designed to help healthcare professionals convert existing forms, manage client notes, send custom reminder messages and accept credit card payments. Key features include appointment sche...Read more about IntakeQ


vcita is a cloud-based, all-in-one business management solution designed especially for service-based micro and small businesses. Entrepreneurs and small business owners from different industries use vcita to manage their time, mo...Read more about vcita


Caspio is a cloud-based, no-code, application development solution for organizations of all sizes. The platform is suitable for industries such as health care, media, government, education, nonprofits, consulting, churches and com...Read more about Caspio

My Clients Plus

My Clients Plus is a cloud-based medical platform. It is used by mental and behavioral health providers for medical practice management. My Clients Plus’ key features comprise therapy billing, client portal, to-do list, thera...Read more about My Clients Plus

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

What is patient portal software?

Patient portal software is a versatile solution that provides users with a secure access to medical records and services. It boosts patient engagement by facilitating tasks such as scheduling appointments, requesting prescription refills, and making online bill payments.

Here's what we'll cover:

Why is patient portal software important?

Your practice should consider buying patient portal software for a number of reasons—but perhaps the most compelling one involves the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. HITECH offers federal stimulus money to practices that invest in health IT to achieve various “meaningful use” requirements.

These requirements have been introduced in stages; the final one, stage three, has a measure calling for the “coordination of care through patient engagement.” This means providers must use technology to give patients access to health information for viewing, downloading and/or transmitting to a third party. As we’ll explain later in this guide, patient portal software can handle all these tasks, and more.

Another reason to implement patient portal software: It’s in demand among providers, so patients will come to expect it at your practice. In fact, a recent survey presented by the Digital Health Coalition found that 52 percent of prescribers (M.D.s, N.P.s, and P.A.s) offer a patient portal, while another 17 percent plan to offer one in the next 12 months.

As other studies show, patients are enthusiastic about this technology, too. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons finds that a patient portal is a preferred follow-up channel for surgery patients: In fact, 76 percent say online-only follow-up care would be sufficient, rather than in-person visits.

A different study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concludes that patients with portal access to notes from their primary care doctor are more likely to stick to their prescribed medication regime. Clearly, patient portals should be a top priority in any health IT investment plan.

Common functionality of patient portal software

Medical records access

The ability for patients to access personal medical records is key. These records include lab results, diagnoses, medications, allergies, clinical summaries and more. To encourage patients to use the software, some practices are instituting online-only lab results delivery.

Digital paperwork

Instead of filling out new patient registration forms at the office, users can fill out that paperwork online. Since the data is already digitized, office staff save time scanning documents. In addition to intake forms, portals can provide satisfaction surveys and general health assessments for patients to complete before or after a visit.

Appointment setting

Typically, provider schedules are shown on a calendar in the portal, and patients can select the best time slot. Depending on your system, you can enable either appointment requests or live appointment scheduling. With the former, patients request a particular slot, an office staff member confirms the appointment and the patient is notified afterward. A system with live appointment scheduling automatically updates your practice management schedule as patients pick time slots, requiring no further staff involvement.

Prescription refills

Automate prescription renewal requests by letting patients ask for refills through the portal. Most systems have a dedicated module where patients can enter their information (e.g., medication, pharmacy of choice) and then submit the prescription request. The provider’s staff is notified, and can verify, approve and/or respond to the request through the portal.

Online bill pay

Electronic billing statements take the collections process online. Patients can make secure payments through the patient portal using a credit card number. The system will automatically process those payments once they’re submitted.

Secure messaging

Exchange messages with patients through the portal instead of over the phone. Most systems provide a secure electronic messaging platform that emails patients when their care team sends a new message. Providers can respond to messages that patients send through the portal, too.

Deployment strategies and pricing

Patient portal vendors often package the software as part of an integrated EHR suite that includes other applications; however, the patient portal functionality can also be purchased as a stand-alone or “best-of-breed” program. If you go with a stand-alone system, it’s important for you to make sure it can integrate with the EHR you’re already using.

Some stand-alone patient portal vendors already have partnerships with EHR vendors, and offer complementary integration between the two—but that’s not always the case. Experts warn integrating a third-party patient portal with your EHR may cost you more time and money than you budgeted. If you plan to do this, be sure to get an interface cost estimate from any vendors you evaluate.

With an EHR suite, users typically don’t pay extra for patient portal functionality. However, stand-alone systems have different pricing models in place, depending on whether a practice wants to pay per patient or per provider.

For example, buyers might pay a low monthly fee depending on how many patients actually use the portal during a set time period. In this model, the fee would be paid for each patient user.

Alternatively, a higher monthly pricing fee could be applied if the practice would rather pay based on the number of registered providers managing the patient portal. A “provider” is anyone providing care to patients (not counting administrative staff). Here, the fee would be paid for each provider user.

The two examples above are for a cloud-based deployment model, in which the system is hosted on external servers and accessed remotely through the Web. On-premise deployments, in which the software is hosted on the provider's own server, are also available from some patient portal vendors, coming with a one-time perpetual license fee that is significantly higher than cloud-based fees.

Market trends to understand

The following trends are common in the patient portal software market:

  • Customizations: While fees may apply for customizing your portal, you may find this is worth the extra expense, depending on your practice’s needs. Some examples of customizations include changes to registration form templates and custom home page designs.

  • HIPAA compliance: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) includes a series of mandates to protect the privacy and security of electronic patient records. Most patient portal vendors will advertise that their products are HIPAA-compliant and have security standards, such as data encryption technology, for their systems.