Patient Portals are a commonly talked-about technology in a doctor's tool area, but how can they utilize the patient portal to increase patient engagement?
According to the AHA report in 2016, 92% of hospitals implemented a patient portal. A survey published during the 2016 HIMSS conference reported, 58% of healthcare experts connect with their patients via mobile-based patient portals. However, a HealthMine survey observed that only 20% of patients use their portals to interact in shared decision-making with their physicians.
What is a Patient Portal?
Patient Portals are an online website that is combined with an EHR, primarily aimed at facilitating patient access to health data. These tools provide patients a look into different data points, containing lab results, physician notes, past health records, discharge summaries, and prescriptions.
There are two main kinds of patient portals: a standalone system and a combined service. Combined patient portal software functionality usually comes as a part of an EHR system, or practice management software. But at their most basic, they're just web-based tools.
Patient portals are essentially utilized to retrieve patient's medical information, getting lab results, for query or for updating patient profiles. Some patient portals also enable patients to plan appointments and handle bills instantly through the system. For providers, they serve as an opportunity to improve patient engagement, increase loyalty, control costs and streamline workflows.
What are some advantages of a Patient Portal?
Better Patient InteractionPatients can use the portal to perform tasks that would usually need to need a phone call or even multiple phone calls. This facility for patients to request appointments and medicine refills quickly from the portal increases the performance of your clinical staff, providing them to have their focus on helping you with the patients who have the most critical care requirements and issues.
Streamline Patient Enrollment and Organizational TasksPatient portals give intake forms to be completed electronically before appointment check-in, having front-office work accomplished. This means that rather than walking patients through which forms to fill out and how, your front office team can quickly review submitted information and reduce the enrollment time, assuring that by the time the patient sees the doctor, they feel comfortable with the official side of things and can focus on their reason for the appointment.
More Focus on Patient CareThe facility to quickly enter and share patient data electronically helps to reduce one of the main distractions, that doctors have during their workday. This allows you to focus more effectively on the patient and the care plan that you need to formulate for your patient.
More loyal Patient-Physician RelationsPatient portals give the capability for patients to have 24-hour access to their health information, connect with their doctor via secure messaging, thus making the patient-physician bond closer than ever.
Rapid GrowthMore and more healthcare organizations have started their patient portals as the medical industry has moved focus toward patient-centered care. Organizations giving patients access to their medical records are at an all-time high. As a result, a growing number of patients are engaging up and actively utilizing these services.
Promotion of TelemedicinePatient portals can also reduce the number of avoidable patient visits to your office, enabling you to more focus on patients who require to see you. This can help promote telemedicine, which allows patients to discuss with you by the messaging system. For example, rather than scheduling an appointment to see their doctor for a change in medicine doses, the patient could question you about it through the patient portal. This feature lets you have that appointment open for a patient who either has a sickness that requires analysis and medicine in-person or one who requires urgent medical care.
If your practice has not yet started benefiting by using a patient portal, here are reasons to get started now:
- Send and receive secure messages. This efficient way of interacting cuts down on lengthy phone conversations and enables patients to request questions within appointments.
- Distribute important information, such as clinical reports or educational materials by the patient portal.
- Patients can demand prescription refills by the portal.
- Take your time back. Messaging and receiving information through the portal streamlines your workflow and conserves your time.
- Patient portals meet some important Meaningful Use requirements. Granting patient-specific informative resources, clinical summaries, and a path to private health information are all elements of Meaningful Use that can be obtained by the use of the portal.
- Increased patients' engagement in and ownership of their health.
- Obtain accurate and entire patient data. When patients can check their health information through the portal, they can let the practice know about any missing or incorrect information in the medical records.
- Simply send notices to patients.
- Give test results to patients immediately and securely.
- Have 24/7 access. Check and reply to messages anytime. Conversely, patients have the freedom of messaging you anytime, outside of office hours.
- Mobile access is simple. Providers and patients can reach the portal via smartphones or tablets when not on their desk.
- Patients can see their visit notes in the portal.
- Give patients their care plan details in the portal.
- Promote privacy to establish them up with their portal accounts so they can interact directly with their physicians.
- Portals can improve patient loyalty. The continuous relationship and communication that happens outside of appointments inspire patients to feel cared for and to remain loyal to your practice.
- Raise your value. Patients value straightforward access to information and direct interaction that happens with portal use.
It can be challenging, at the start, to have patients sign up for and utilize the portal. Having a plan and consistently applying it will help. Here are a few tips:
- Develop talking points for the front desk team to utilize for promoting the portal at check-in or check-out.
- Give out informational pamphlets or flyers to patients describing how the portal will support them. Add instructions on how to join.
- Show posters during the office promoting the portal.
- Have the provider educate and support portal sign-up while the appointment.
According to a paper from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), it was reported that over 90% of hospitals provide patients to obtain their medical records, with 72% of organizations providing patients full picture, download, and transfer capabilities. With that being told, for over half of these means, less than 25% of patients choose and use them.
Healthcare organizations are operating on appending extra tools and features, partially to make more patients connected during their treatment process. The many perks of a patient portal are worth the beginning work of getting everyone on board. With routine use, your practice should see higher patient engagement and fulfillment, and a more streamlined workflow that conserves time and effort for staff and physicians.