As healthcare moves to a patient-centric model, self-service capabilities within patient portals become more important. These self-service options allow patients to take more control and navigate the complexities of the healthcare system. This January, Corporate Insight published an Account Management and Preferences report (Health System Monitor subscription required), evaluating self-service account management features across 15 organizations. We assessed the level of control patients have over account and profile details, communication preferences, security features, and data management.

These functions are equally beneficial to patients and health systems. Patients need convenient ways to manage their accounts continuously, and organizations can preempt calls and administrative burdens by giving patients the ability to update their personal information and communication, security and data preferences. Embracing these patient self-service capabilities not only meets the evolving expectations of healthcare consumers but also positions organizations at the forefront of delivering high-quality, patient-centered care. Below are some of the best practices from the report:

Enable patients to add users to their accounts and manage what they can view and do within the site

Patients often rely on the support of family members and caregivers for their healthcare needs. Allowing patients to manage family member accounts and invite proxies can facilitate collaboration in healthcare decision-making, ensuring that a patient’s support network is involved and informed. Many organizations covered in this report employ online forms for users to request access to a family member’s account. Some organizations allow patients to invite caregivers and proxies to manage their health, but few let them manage what additional users can do within their accounts.

  • Almost half (47%) of organizations offer family member account management
  • Only 20% allow patients to add additional users to their accounts
  • 33% of organizations enable patients to manage shared medical information

One Medical stands out for allowing patients to request access to a minor’s account. Further, the organization enables users to create an account for a minor through their own. MedFusion patients can decide if invitees can view information or view and act on their behalf.

This screenshot shows Medfusion's manage access form for adding users to an account
MedFusion Invite a New Representative Form Manage Access Section

Allow patients to include personal and demographic details

Enabling patients to add demographic and personal details to their profiles fosters patient engagement and supports personalized care. Additionally, these critical components of a patient’s identity—gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and preferred name—aid providers in offering culturally competent and respectful care. When patients can add this information to their profiles, providers can use it to properly communicate with patients and contribute to an inclusive patient-provider relationship.

  • About three-quarters (73%) of organizations in this report allow patients to indicate their gender identity, but only 47% enable them to include their race and ethnicity.
  • Less than a quarter (20%) of organizations provide the option for patients to indicate their religion, and 27% enable patients to provide their marital status.
  • Shockingly, none of the organizations covered allow patients to include their disability status. Notably, in the Health Plan Monitor coverage set, Oscar asks members if they identify as having a disability.

Valley Medical Group offers a robust patient information section allowing patients to indicate many pieces of personal information, including preferred name, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and pronouns.

Valley Medical patient demographic information
Valley Medical Group Patient Information Section

In 2023, we saw several firms in our Health Plan Monitor coverage set add inputs for demographic data like race and ethnicity, preferred language, disability status and sexual orientation. Aetna added ethnicity and race indicators to member profiles, as well as a new tile explaining their importance. Independence Blue Cross added a My Profile page to its member site, allowing members to indicate their race, ethnicity, cultural identity and language.

Aetna Member Site page showing demographic options
Aetna Member Site Demographics Section

Let patients edit key account details

Self-service account management settings allow patients to easily manage their data, security settings and communication preferences in real time and in a seamless fashion. Patients can ensure that their account information is up to date and that their system and provider have accurate data. The convenience of healthcare self-service capabilities contributes to patient engagement.

  • Passwords are the most common editable piece of security information (87%). Less than half of organizations allow patients to modify their username (40%) and security questions and answers (47%).
  • Email, gender identity and address are some of the most common modifiable pieces of personal information, each appearing across 73% of organizations.
  • Only a third (33%) of organizations enable patients to update insurance information, indicate preferred pharmacies and modify their date of birth, deeply impacting patients who have changing circumstances like moving and changing jobs.
  • Two organizations—MedFusion and Valley Medical Group—allow patients to indicate their tobacco status.

Most organizations include edit links alongside each piece of editable information. One Medical features pencil icons indicating what users can update. Three organizations feature a single edit link within a section or page, allowing patients to conveniently edit all modifiable items at once.

Two screenshots showing One Medical's personal information section and Valley Medical's emergency contact information
One Medical Personal Information Section (Left) and Valley Medical Group Phone, Email Address and Emergency Contact Edit Page (Right)

Learn more about patient portals and the ideal healthcare user experience

For more on patient preferences, behavior and account usage, check out our upcoming patient survey analysis in Corporate Insight’s Health System Monitor March report.

And for more insights into digital innovation in the healthcare space, check out our research services in four areas: Health Plan, Medicare, Health System and Pharmacy. Or take a look at our Healthcare Briefings if you’re interested in a specific topic. And don’t forget to check out our Insights section for more industry trends and best practices in the healthcare space.

Blake Floyd

Blake Floyd is an Analyst on CI's healthcare team.