Patient portals are used commonly by hospitals and medical practices that want to provide patients with an easy, secure way to access their electronic health records (EHR). They also help the practice, as patients who use the portal no longer have to use your staff’s time to access medical records that belong to them.
They’ve also been shown to help patient engagement. A systematic review published in 2019 that examined 58 different articles found that patient portals have enabled the discovery of medical errors, improved adherence to medications, and providing better communication between the patient and the healthcare provider. We’ve also explained the importance of patient engagement in a previous article.
So how should practices use medical center patient portals to improve patient engagement?
How Patient Portals Improve Patient Engagement
Patient engagement in healthcare is linked to better health outcomes. Those who are more engaged with their care are more likely to take medication prescribed, tell physicians about relevant health information, and commit to lifestyle changes prescribed by the physician.
What patient portals do is give patients access to their own health information while also providing a secure messaging and appointment scheduling platform. They also provide relevant education to patients. Patients who are able to get their own health information are able to stay better informed about their own health, leading to better outcomes.
So what does this mean for your practice? In short, it means that efforts to inform patients and encourage patients to use the portal could directly lead to better health outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
How To Get Patients To Use The Portal
Tell patients about the portal during their appointments.
When going over a patient’s health information during an appointment, physicians should be checking to make sure that patients are aware of the information you have on record. The patient should then be told about the portal’s existence and its benefits. When the patient is getting ready to leave, staff should give them instructions on how to use the patient portal.
Inform patients during reminder calls, texts, and emails.
Since your patients are not in your office most of the time, it makes sense to reach out to them directly and tell them how they can use the patient portal. In emails and text messages, provide them direct links to the portal while informing them of the benefits.
Encourage patients to use the portal.
Patients need to know why they should use a patient portal, otherwise they’re not going to use it. Let them know how they can benefit by using it. Appeal to their busy schedule and tell them that they could easily set online appointments.
Another way to get them to sign up is to incentivize new patient portal signups. Offering small gifts or potential prizes to those who sign up to the patient portal is a good way to get them to sign up.