patient engagement

4 Ways a Patient Portal Can Upgrade the Patient Experience

These days, healthcare is all about the patient experience. It's a buzzword that abounds, but what does it really mean for your pediatric practice?

According to an article from NEJM Catalyst, the patient experience has to do with

  • exceeding expectations
  • reducing suffering
  • differentiating your "brand" (i.e. how does your practice stand out compared to others based on the experience your patients have)

It includes the whole experience a patient has while interacting with your practice from start to finish, not just the time spent in the exam room with the provider.

This means that the communication between staff and patients, the ease of access your patients have to the practice, and even the atmosphere of your waiting room are all part of the patient experience. 

Patient engagement is closely tied into this. When patients are more engaged, they have a better experience, and vice versa. Positive engagement and experiences lead to better health outcomes. 

When your practice facilitates an experience that encourages patients to actively engage in their own health, everybody wins. While there are many ways to support a positive patient experience, a patient portal is one of the best. Why?

According to the previously mentioned article, "it is rare that the patient is navigating his or her health alone — clinicians, communities, and the patient’s friends and family likely also have a significant role in patient care." This is especially true in pediatrics, where a patient's parents or guardians are often the decision makers and primary points of contact for the patient. 

A patient portal that provides the best experience for patients and their families is one that ensures ease of use with every interaction. That said, making sure a robust patient portal is part of the package is something to keep in mind when choosing an EHR vendor.

Here are 4 things to make sure your patient portal provides:

A Patient Portal Should Be Easy to Use

The patient experience is improved when patients can get information anytime, day or night. A portal should be accessible on any computer browser or operating system. Users should also be able to log in from any mobile phone or tablet device. 

It Should be Easy to Make Payments in a Patient Portal

A patient portal that accepts payments makes it easier for patients to pay their balances, and faster for you to receive what you're owed. Most patients enjoy the ability to pay bills on the go, often on mobile devices. When they can take care of balances right in the portal, it negates having to wait for checks to be mailed or payments to be collected at the front desk.

Patient Portals Should Easily Maintain Privacy

The experience of your patients is improved when their privacy is ensured. Rather than having to use email, which is not secure for discussing private health information, patients can use a portal to securely exchange messages with their pediatric practice. This direct line of communication improves the patient experience by allowing patients or parents/guardians to reach out to the practice anytime with questions or requests for information. 

Another way a patient portal should provide privacy is when a patient in the practice becomes an adult. This is a stage where upcoming appointment information and health records should only be accessible to the patient, and not other family members. A portal that can be configured to automatically enable patient privacy at a designated age is essential to enhancing the patient experience. 

A Patient Portal Should Offer Easy Access to Information

The key to a good patient experience is providing quick and easy access to information. Not only does this give your patients what they want, but it reduces work for staff who otherwise might be fielding calls or emails from patients requesting information. 

With a portal, patients can easily access information such as upcoming appointments or visit history, and various documents including:

  • forms
  • test results
  • immunization records
  • medical records

With the right patient portal, the patient experience is vastly improved, and patients become more engaged in their own care. 

Portals don't just benefit your patients – they also benefit your practice. For more on this, check out our post 20 Ways a Patient Portal Will Benefit Your Practice.

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Courtney Edelson

For several years, Courtney Edelson was the Marketing Content Manager at PCC. She wrote for the PCC Blog, and created additional content to keep pediatricians up to date on important healthcare industry news and trends. In addition to being a lifelong writer, Courtney brought nearly a decade of healthcare practice management experience to her work.