We live in the age of empowerment, where people are more invested in their environment, work, and lifestyle than ever before. Now, thanks to patient portals, the latest innovation in health care delivery, people have even greater control over their greatest asset: their health.
Often with names such as “myChart” or “myHealth,” online health care portals offer an array of web-based tools that encourage patients to play an active role in managing their health. These portals offer patients secure, 24-hour access to personal health information anytime, from anywhere there is an internet connection. Because they generally integrate with electronic health record (EHR) systems, after logging in with a secure username and password, patients can easily view test results, schedule appointments, pay bills, and even communicate with their doctors and health care providers. It couldn’t be easier.
Increasing Patient Engagement, Anytime, Anywhere
Many people say they are actively engaged in their health and promoting a healthy lifestyle, but list time as a limiting factor. Patient portals help remove this barrier by giving patients the ability to access health-related information when and where they need it. Questions arise day and night, but now patients don’t have to wait until office hours to message their care team. Instead of calling the pharmacy to request a refill, they can easily refill prescription with a few taps on their smartphone.
Patient portals also help people better manage their time. Instead of arriving at an appointment 15-30 minutes early to fill out paperwork, patients can now pre-fill some paperwork via their patient portal, from the comfort of their own home. These timesaving steps help take the dread out of some visits and empower patients to take a greater role in their health care.
Health Care Provider Benefits
Doctors, nurses, and health care teams also benefit from integrated patient portals. Not only can they quickly respond to patient messages, they can use the tool for scheduling patient reminders. Automatically generated appointment reminders significantly reduce no-show rates, as well as improve workflow efficiencies. For example, instead of the manual process of calling patients, workflow reminders can be automated, allowing the team to spend more one-on-one time with patients.
Assessing Your Patient Portal Needs
While patient portals in health care are quickly becoming an unofficial “must have,” no two platforms are the same. It’s important to review which capabilities make sense in your practice. While all allow for secure access to certain personal health data, provider notes, and medical histories, some portals also have more advanced capabilities, such as survey tools and other feedback mechanisms.
When investing in a patient portal, keep these items in mind:
How will it integrate with your EHR system?
Physicians and their office staff who adopt a patient portal system may need to integrate it with their EHR system. This is certainly possible, but not all solutions are built the same. That’s a big reason behind Penrod’s partnership with Salesforce: the openness of the platform allows a wide variety of disparate systems to be integrated with this system of engagement.
What are your “must-have” functionalities?
When it comes to patient care technology, online appointment scheduling and messaging capabilities are standard. But if yours is a specialty practice, consider what other needs your patients and office staff might have. Remember, the more functions that relate to your patient population, the greater the chance your patients will adopt the new platform and become frequent users.
What processes would you like to automate?
Health care practices are incredibly busy and have many moving pieces. Automating tasks can help reduce inefficiencies and free up more time for your staff to spend with patients. By selecting a platform that fully automates as many processes as possible, you can also help reduce administrative costs.
What will it take to provide high-quality customer service via the patient portal?
Once your patient portal is up and running, it’s important to invest some time driving patient engagement. First, you’ll want to train your staff on the tool and its benefits so they can encourage patient use and provide assistance as needed. The good news is, because patient portals are becoming more and more common, many people are already familiar with the concept and our job is to help you make sure they’re easy for patients to use and navigate.
Once patients are actively using the tool, you’ll need to regularly monitor the portal, manage inboxes, and respond to messages in a timely manner. Fortunately, this process can save your staff a great deal of administrative time, so you can spend more time caring for your patients, securing not only their peace of mind, but their loyalty as well.
Your patients—and practice—are unique! Don’t settle for a cookie-cutter patient portal. Penrod can help you create the perfect portal for your patients. Contact us today.