"A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients convenient 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection." –HealthIT.govPatient portals have been shown to improve both patient care and provider workflow. With the advent of value-based care, patient engagement continues to emerge as a growing theme in healthcare. Getting set up with a patient portal is a great way to increase patient engagement, streamline office workflow, and improve the patient experience all around.
If your practice has been putting off using the patient portal, here are 20 reasons to get started now:
- Send and receive secure messages. This efficient way of communicating cuts down on long phone conversations and allows patients to ask questions between appointments.
- Share important information, such as clinical summaries or educational materials through the patient portal.
- Patients can request prescription refills through the portal.
- Get your time back. Messaging and sharing information through the portal streamlines your workflow and saves your time.
- Patient portals meet some Meaningful Use requirements. Providing patient-specific educational resources, clinical summaries, and access to personal health information are all components of Meaningful Use that can be achieved through use of the portal.
- Increase patients' engagement in and ownership of their own health. For example, when a patient has a chronic condition that impairs their ability to easily come in for an office visit, discussing issues and answering questions through the portal can cut down on the need for an appointment and increase the patient's ability to engage in their own care.
- Collect accurate and complete patient data. When patients can check their own health information through the portal, they can let the practice know about any missing or inaccurate information in the chart.
- Easily send reminders to patients.
- Send test results to patients quickly and securely.
- Enjoy 24/7 access. Check and respond to messages anytime. Conversely, patients have the convenience of messaging you anytime, regardless of office hours.
- Mobile access is easy. Providers and patients can access the portal via smart phones or tablets when not on the computer.
- Patients have the ability to check upcoming appointments, saving a phone call to the office.
- Pediatric practices can share immunization records with patients through the portal.
- Share forms or other important documents through the portal.
- Patients can view their visit notes in the portal.
- Show patients their care plan details in the portal.
- With some patient portals, such as PCC's, a parent can easily login once and access information for all siblings.
- Facilitate privacy for teens and set them up with their own portal account so they can communicate directly with their pediatrician.
- Portals can increase patient loyalty. The ongoing relationship and communication that occurs outside of appointments encourages patients to feel cared for and to remain loyal to your practice.
- Increase your value. Patients value the easy access to information and direct communication that comes with portal use.
It can be challenging in the beginning to get patients to sign up for and use the portal. Having a strategy and consistently employing it will help. Here are some tips:
- Develop talking points for front desk staff to use for promoting the portal at check-in or check-out.
- Hand out informational brochures or flyers to patients explaining how the portal will help them. Include instructions on how to register.
- Display posters throughout the office promoting the portal.
- Have the patient's provider encourage portal sign-up during the appointment.
The many benefits of a patient portal are certainly worth the initial work of getting everyone on board. With regular use, your practice should see greater patient engagement and satisfaction, and a more streamlined workflow that saves time and effort for staff and providers.