How to Improve Your Patient Satisfaction Rates with a Patient Portal

The best doctors want to keep patients as healthy as possible--it’s good for business, and medical organizations are businesses despite the fact that some people disagree. Patient portals improve customer satisfaction and keep customers engaged with their health and treatment. That means patients are more likely to follow their doctor’s recommendations and keep their appointments. Another benefit of patient portals is that they’re required to satisfy Medicare and Medicaid “meaning use” requirements to qualify for full reimbursement.

Currently, medical practices lose 1 percent if they don’t meet these requirements. Patients will use portals if they’re convenient and easy to use. It might be necessary to encourage them at first, but many patients will use them regularly if the portals meet their own “meaningful use” requirements.

The Benefits of Patient Portals in Your Practice

Normal forms of communication with patients aren’t always available because of privacy and confidentiality requirements (HIPAA regulations). About 64 percent of hospitals in the United States provide patient portals for their patients. Nationwide, 52 percent of healthcare patients have access to patient portals. [1] Portals empower patients to take control of their health, improve patient satisfaction and make it easier to access records, pay medical bills, schedule appointments, renew prescriptions and perform other health-related activities. Some of the top benefit of a patient portal for medical practices include:

  • Ability of patients to find answers to many questions about their health and treatment, which frees staff time
  • Boosting patient engagement rates
  • Educating patients on general health issues
  • Simplifying paperwork by allowing doctors and staff to type information only once
  • Faster payments of pay medical bills
  • Reduced cases of patients defaulting on their bills
  • Not needing to repeat instructions many times or send out instructions by mail
  • Reducing administrative duties
  • Lower missed appointment rates
  • Automated reminders for appointments and medical bills

Making Patient Portals Useful to Patients

One recent study of patient portal use found that patients increased their usage of portals when everyone in the medical practice encouraged them. [2] The encouragement offered by doctors is good, but patients actually spend more time interacting with nurses, receptionists and other staff than they do with their doctors. If the whole staff gets involved, patient use of portals increases dramatically.

Strategies for encouraging the use of patient portals include:

Educating Patients

  • Patients need to understand everything they can do on a portal to increase their use of one. Let patients know that their lab results will be posted immediately on the portal. Remind patients that they can consult their portals for clinical summaries of all their medical services, request prescription refills and find copies of medical instructions that they might have lost.

Try a Bulk-enrollment Strategy

  • Compile a list of patients who haven’t used a patient portal, and send them an email asking them to choose a username and password. After their first use of the portal, send them a welcoming email that lists all the services they can perform.

Promote Portal Use at Every Patient Contact

  • Every time someone on the staff interacts with a patient is an opportunity to encourage the person to use the portal. It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed--just tell the patient that they can review their treatment, lab results, bill and health tips by logging into the portal.

Concentrate on Benefits Instead of Features

  • Patients don’t care about features--they want to know the benefits. The patient benefits include avoiding phone tag, getting prescriptions renewed quickly, avoiding an office visit, getting 24/7 access to their records, the ability to share their medical condition with loved ones, the ability to pay their bill online and many others. These benefits will quickly become the expected norm for patient treatments as baby boomers expand the medical industry. It makes sound business policy to promote patient benefits to improve patient satisfaction to keep patients loyal to the practice.

Customize Portals to Each Patient

  • Choosing a collaborative developer enables medical practices to customize portals for their patients. For example, the portal might make it easier to understand cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart problems, skin lesions and other conditions.

Offering Financial Incentives

  • The oldest method of getting people to do something is to pay them. Offer patients a financial incentive--such as a 5 percent discount on their first bill--for enrolling and using a patient portal.

Continue to Encourage Your Patients

  • Let patients know if there are new features recently added to the portal. Patients who haven’t checked in for some time can be gently encouraged to access their portals to view new information.

Improve Online Patient Care

The philosophical view of the value of patient portals is perhaps the strongest for most physicians. Patient portals improve online patient care. Patients can check on issues such as drug interactions, nutrition, best health practices and treatment options. It’s also important for doctors to take an active role by posting helpful information, checking patient messages and responding promptly to communications. About 75 percent of patients feel that access to their health records electronically would improve their understanding of health and treatment issues. 80 percent of patients who do use patient portals use the information that they find. [3] Custom portals, such as the ones Clarity builds, also allows a healthcare provider to invite or securely share a patient’s records with a specialist or someone else participating in their patients’ care, greatly improving the knowledge transfer to the specialist.

Provide Better Service with a Patient Portal

You can provide better service with a patient portal, but it’s important to choose the right developer if you want a well-designed portal that connects to every patient record. Customers can consult their EHRs to review lab results, discharge summaries, rehabilitation tips, medical bills and much more. However, patients will only use the portals if they’re intuitive and offer many self-service options that constitute “meaningful use.” Choose a developer that understands what HIPAA development is and how to work with those compliance regulations. Also, one that will work with you and your staff to train you in security issues, troubleshooting and encouraging patient use. Give Clarity a call today to discuss your medical portal project, or schedule a demo to see one of ours.

 

References:

[1] Patientengagementhit.com: Patient Portal Access, Use Reach 52% of Healthcare Consumers

https://patientengagementhit.com/news/patient-portal-access-use-reach-52-of-healthcare-consumers

[2] Blog.evisit.com: 10 Secrets to Get Patients Using Patient Portals

https://blog.evisit.com/10-secrets-to-engage-patients-with-patient-portals

[3] Blogevisit.com: 21 Fascinating Patient Engagement Stats

https://blog.evisit.com/21-fascinating-patient-engagement-stats

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