“If you build it, will they come?”
Most discussions these days about EMR patient portals and attaining Meaningful Use Stage 2 criteria are centered around the technical aspects. But while a patient portal is a great way to engage patients, it doesn’t ensure that patients will sign up or make effective use of it.
So how can a medical practice see to it that patients realize the benefits of using the patient portal?
Here are three areas that your office can focus on:
- Involve the providers: If you want patients to “buy in” to your portal, you must also have the same buy-in with the provider. Change can be difficult for most, but providers must be able to adapt and embrace this new way of diagnosing and treating patients. Providers have to drive the medical responses to questions via the patient portal and do so on a timely basis.
- Address the culture change amongst the staff: Much as change is difficult for providers, it is equally if not more difficult for staff member to support “the new way of doing things.” Staff members may see the portal as one more thing they have to do on top of their already growing list of demands. They may also be reluctant to believe that patients will even use the EMR patient portal. Bringing a positive attitude will certainly help ensure that your portal is successful. Portal administrators should also help both providers and staff to embrace the mindset that the patient portal is a patient engagement tool. Ultimately, it is providing better service to their patients.
- Promote to your existing and potential patients: Achieving Meaningful Use Stage 2 by presenting all the benefits of the portal for the patients to encourage adoption is key. Communicate that the EMR patient portal is a faster way to be able to receive lab results, get medication refills, and answer questions. Also point out that it can eliminate the phone tag that patients often encounter when calling the office. Here are some other methods to consider:
- Place a computer in the waiting room if possible so patients can register right in the office. Staff members can assist if patients have any questions.
- Place informational brochures at check-in and check-out stations and waiting rooms.
- If you use reminder card, add instructions for the patient to register for the portal.
- Use your on-hold time when on the phone for patients to hear announcements on how to register for the portal.
- All printed publications such as statements or newsletters (use this to promote benefits) can be tools as a promotion tool for the portal.
Learn more about our patient portal and EMR interface solutions.