Three Ways to Increase Patient Portal Engagement

People engaged in their healthcare - patient portalThis week, CEO John Deutsch was quoted in an EMR Daily News article about how to get patients to log in to patient portals and keep using them to manage their health. While patient portals have become central to discussions of Meaningful Use and key tools for patient engagement, they remain vastly underutilized. EMR Daily News put forth three essential strategies for making sure that you portal successfully reaches patients.


1. Focus on user experience in healthcare web development and design.

It’s naive to assume that patients avoid portals because they’re not good with technology. Then why would it be that only 36% of Americans log on to patient portals to manage their health, if 51% already use online banking to manage their finances? While it seems easy to default to the portal provided by your EMR, your best bet is to select a stand-alone, customized option built with an intuitive interface that patients will actually use.

2. Set patient expectations for when to expect patient portal updates.

In the online world, we’ve learned to expect short response times — seconds when it comes to social media, and up to 24 hours when it comes to e-mail. But healthcare doesn’t work this way. For example, it may take a week for test results to be analyzed, sent back to the provider, and reviewed by a physician. To prevent patient frustration and disengagement, all that needs to happen is some simple expectation setting. Let patients know when to check for results, and send a message once they’ve been uploaded.

3. Promote the portal on and off the screen to maximize patient engagement.

One mention is never enough, especially when your goal is to get patients to stay engaged with your portal. In addition to promoting your portal online through e-mail marketing and by integrating portal actions into your website, you can push it at a number of touch points in the medical office like print materials and face-to-face communication.

Marina is a writer who specializes in healthcare policy, patient engagement, and telemedicine. She has a special interest in creative tech approaches that help provider teams collaborate better, improve patient experience, and reduce health disparities.

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