Technology is moving patient care forward, and one of the easiest things to implement in a practice of any size is a patient portal. Portals have been around for several years, but they have seen relatively low engagement levels for most patients and providers, leaving some to abandon them without ever really getting any benefit. As more and more patients demand digital access to records and want the convenience of managing their health using online or app-based portals, it’s time to reexamine some best practices for engaging patients with a portal.
Why it Matters
The more engaged your patients are in their healthcare, the easier it is for you to help them achieve better health outcomes and reduce the costs of patient care—both critical pieces of the value-based care puzzle that many providers are trying to navigate today. Patient portals can also increase patient satisfaction with the care they get from your clinic, but it’s important to offer a portal with the features that patients want.
Make it easy for patients to use the portal.
The first and most important step toward better engagement with your patients is to make the process easy. For some clinics that could mean automatically and securely enrolling your patients in the portal and providing them with information on how to login and change their password. For others it could mean working with the patient portal vendor to provide simple step-by-step instructions for patients via email or text to help them get enrolled and start using the portal. The easier you can make this process, the more likely people will use your portal.
Offer the features your patients want.
Many patients already know what would make their life easier, and they seek out practices that use technology in an effective way to increase access to care and provide convenience. The most-requested features in a patient portal (in order) are:
- Online appointment scheduling
- Lab results and clinical notes
- Viewing bills and making online payments
- Medication refill requests
- Filling out forms before a visit (intake forms)
- Communicating with members of a care team
- Updating medical history
If your portal doesn’t offer these things, you will have a hard time getting patients to adopt and use the technology.
Make sure you and your staff are doing your part.
All of this technology is useless for patients if you and your staff are not using it. Some clinics launch a patient portal and then forget about it, which means your patients who are trying to communicate with you or adopt the technology are getting nothing in return (except a lot of frustration). In some cases, lack of engagement with your patient portal could even increase your risk for liability if a patient is requesting care (such as a medication refill) and you are not responding. When you decide to launch a patient portal, make sure you and your entire staff determine proper workflows to check messages and address patient needs.
Download our free eGuide to learn how patient portals are a key to patient engagement.
To learn more about patient portals and how they can help you engage your patients, talk to AdvancedMD today.