Increasing patient engagement can be accomplished by taking advantage of an existing patient portal in more strategic ways. Since many patients already use their practice’s portal to access and schedule appointments or find lab results, it’s a natural place to engage them more fully and more often. Not only can the portal help make a patient’s experience easier, it can improve organizational efficiency and cost savings at the same time.
Here are seven ways practices you put a patient portal to use and reap the rewards of deeper patient engagement.
- Access health records in one place. Perhaps most importantly, the portal can be used to share a patient’s full picture of their records, which can help them more proactively manage their health. Enabling a patient to connect to all of their clinicians and hospitals and see all of their healthcare data in a single portal can be accomplished using tools that collect data from multiple acute and ambulatory information sources and standardize them into a single registry for easy viewing.
- Monitor patient engagement activity. Obtaining outcomes requires modifying patient behavior. Enabling patients to engage in self-management and then tracking whether they are fulfilling the desired actions is a critical step to determine which interventions are most successful at an individual patient level.
- Schedule appointments. To save time and make scheduling vastly more efficient, patients can be given the ability to schedule their own appointments online or via a mobile app. This saves time for front-office staff and allows them to be more efficient and focus on other priorities.
- Complete electronic forms – once. Being able to fill out necessary forms online before and after visit is a big convenience for patients. Having information imported into the EHR so it only has to be completed once is even bigger, reducing friction in the patient experience while making data collection much more efficient in the process.
- Make communication easier. Giving patients the option to choose how they receive communications, including automated emails, texts, or phone calls, can streamline communications while helping organizations comply with additional requirements. The portal can also be used to coordinate medication refill requests, pay bills, and supply visit and discharge summaries. To maximize the portal further, organizations can enable secure messaging between patients and practice staff as well.
- Provide patient education. Providing online education materials for patients to access and review at their convenience is another key aspect of the portal. Educational tools including specific information regarding a health condition, what symptoms a patient may experience, or discussing what decisions a patient might face due to their condition help patients increase their participation in care decisions and overall management of their care.
- Set up home device monitoring. Wireless monitoring devices that automatically transmit data and store it in the patient portal can help patients better manager their chronic conditions, while helping clinicians manage their care plans, spot trends, and improve and sustain their clinical and financial outcome goals. As a quickly growing market, today’s most popular vital signs monitoring devices include blood pressure, pulse oximeters, temperature monitoring, and blood glucose monitoring devices. Practices looking to include home monitoring data within their patient portal should check with their vendor to check the availability of interfaces and application programming interfaces that can enable integration of this information into their practice.