In part 1 of this blog we reviewed some of the history of the patient portal, a web-based tool that offers patients information about their health history and, in some cases, the chance to communicate with a provider’s office or take other steps to get care. Some form of patient portals have been almost universally adopted by healthcare providers, but that doesn’t mean that they are useful tools. In part 2 of this post, we’re going to look at what you should be offering through your portal to enhance patient adoption and interaction.
What Is Holding Portals Back
While 90% of healthcare systems and providers offer patient portal access, only about 20% of patients actually engage with the portal. The reasons that patient interaction can vary, but are primarily due to a few specific factors:
- Providers do not engage with the tool, and therefore it offers patients little to no benefit
- Available information is limited within the platform
- Portals are confusing or difficult, presenting technological challenges for patients
- Patients prefer to speak to their doctor directly rather than use technology
- Patients are concerned about privacy and data security
Getting patients to use portals requires healthcare providers, administrators, and patients to recognize the challenges and make decisions that enhance portal use.
One of the biggest reasons that patients don’t engage with portals is because their providers are not using them. Whether it’s because a provider doesn’t believe they are valuable, or simply hasn’t invested the time to make it part of their daily workflows, the reality is that patients trust their providers and if doctors and care teams are using portals and actively encouraging engagement, patients will adopt the technology.
Offering the Right Features and Benefits
Another concern for many patients is that portals are difficult or confusing and offer little to no immediate benefit. If your current portal doesn’t provide patients with convenient features that enhance the care experience, it’s time to upgrade. The most-requested patient portal features (in order) include:
- Online scheduling
- Easy access to health information such as lab results
- Online bill pay
- Prescription refill requests
- Filling out pre-visit forms
- Sending messages to care providers
- Maintaining an updated medical history
Before you launch a new patient portal or do a big push to get patients signed up to use your existing one, make sure it offers the features they want and need, and has the privacy and security protection in place to keep records secure.
Take the Next Step
If you’re ready to enhance the portal features available to your patients, talk to AdvancedMD today about how our patient portal can provide the top things patients are looking for to increase patient engagement and improve practice productivity.