Front office efficiency and practice profitability are vital if you want your practice to continue to thrive. Earlier, we discussed Why Your Office Should Not Go Another day Without Patient Portal Technology, and we suggested a way to accomplish this on-going effort of encouraging patients to get more involved with their health by implementing patient portal technology.
In addition to improvement in productivity and the total patient care experience, online patient portals integrated into your practice website could have a positive influence your patient’s first impression of your practice. And with a patient’s ability to register, input, and update all personal, insurance, and medical history information into digital documents before they even arrive for their scheduled appointment, (or at their convenience) you just freed up valuable time that could be spent building more personal relationships with your patients.
By encouraging your patients to communicate more efficiently with practice staff and provider, you can cut back on hours of time typically spent on busy-work and unnecessary phone calls. So how can you get your patients to transition, get up to speed and engaging with this current healthcare technology?
Education is alway the key to success with anything. If your patients aren’t logging into their patient portal, they likely aren’t aware that this is a tool giving them access to their healthcare anytime and anywhere. Patients trust you and value your opinion, so persuading them to begin using their patient portal will likely not be very challenging if you encourage them to do so and explain the advantages it offers to them in accessing their own healthcare information. Here are some ways to get your patients signed in and using their personal patient portal:
Getting your Patients Started
During the check-in process, ask your patients if they know about their patient portal, and if not, have patients create a portal account and print out that information for them, along with instructions on how to start using their portal. If they don’t want to do it right then, hand them a brief instruction sheet on how to log into it and start using their patient portal when they are ready. (If you have a tablet, encourage your patients to register when prompted to during their digital check-in.)
Send an email or include in your monthly patient newsletter periodically explaining what a patient portal is, why they should utilize it, and how it can help improve health outcomes.
Post signage or print out fliers about the portal, and the benefits it offers to them, and keep them on hand in the waiting room as well as in patient exam rooms.
Assure them that the portal will only be used to respond to the patient’s message and to share important health information such as the clinical summaries.
Send a summary of your patient’s visit to their patient portal just after they check out, if possible, along with the link to access it, so they can message you if a question regarding their visit comes up. That will get them engaging and experiencing the advantages of their patient portal right away.
Include a link to the portal in all your patient outreach and a message saying, “Thanks for using the patient portal!”
It might be helpful for staff members to set up a patient portal for themselves so they can navigate through and understand the patient side of the experience. Follow up with patients who don’t log into their portal within a week of their appointment to see if they need assistance getting it set up. Not every patient will be as excited about using the portal as you may be for them to use it, but at least make sure that they understand the how to’s of it as well as the benefits of using it to communicate. You could also follow up with an email 30 days after their visit as a reminder to log in and start getting familiar with their patient portal.
Another good time to encourage patients to use their patient portal might be when they call in and get frustrated with hold times or communication delays, or even when they call to schedule an appointment, pay a bill, or ask a question. Remind your staff to look for opportunities to educate your patients on the conveniences of their patient portal.
What’s the Concensus?
The implementation of patient portal technology has improved the overall patient experience and has enhanced patient-provider relationships. Patients appreciate the convenience of access to support in between visits. Practices appreciate the efficiency it offers by reducing the amount of time spent on the phone and on other time-consuming tasks that can now be addressed via a patient portal.
One clinician observed, “Lots of patients are accustomed to using electronic communication now. They don’t want to have to pick up the phone anymore.”
Patient portal technology has absolutely transformed healthcare and patient relationship management. Encouraging patients to get more involved in their health is empowering and likely to improve patient satisfaction as well as health outcomes.