In the few years prior to 2020, patient portal adoption among patients lagged in comparison to its level of adoption among healthcare providers. According to a 2017 GAO report, at that time, 87 percent of providers had implemented patient portals. However, only 30 percent of their patients accessed those portals. As it has been for other healthcare technologies, such as telehealth, the COVID-19 pandemic has also become a catalyst for more widespread portal adoption by patients.
To use an old adage, providers should take this as an opportunity to “strike while the iron is hot.” More than ever, patients are open to new technologies that allow them to handle processes without physical contact. A patient portal is exactly that, making it possible for patients to schedule appointments, access information and/or pay their balances online without the need for a phone call or a visit to the office. To help our readers take advantage of this new surge in patient portal usage, we’d like to offer the following five methods for encouraging adoption by patients:
- Market the Portal in All Patient Communications
Your patients can’t adopt your portal if they are not even aware it exists. Every single patient in your practice should feel encouraged to use it. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to promote your practice’s patient portal in all patient communications—emails, appointment reminders, newsletters, etc. Also, any printed collateral materials that are given to new patients should always include patient portal information.
- Tell Patients About the Benefits (Not Just the Features)
While it is good to showcase the features of your patient portal, they mean little if you do not also highlight the benefits of said features. Do this by asking (and answering) the question, “Why should this feature matter to them?” For example, explain how online scheduling makes it possible for them to schedule appointments even outside of regular business hours, which is convenient and saves time.
- Get Your Staff Involved
Encouraging portal adoption can and should be a team effort! This means everyone on staff, from front office to nurses and assistants, should be aware of the portal, understand its benefits to both the practice and patients, and be encouraged to promote it at every opportunity.
- Integrate Portal Sign-up with Your Patient Check-in Process
When patients check in for an appointment, front desk staff can check to see if they have registered for the portal. If not, they can explain to the patient how to sign up and perhaps even have them do it right then and there. There are some portals that have remote check-in capabilities, which encourage immediate adoption in the current COVID environment, promoting safety and social distancing by offering patients a “virtual waiting room” experience.
- Incentives & Raffles
People love the chance to win free stuff. So, turning the registration into a raffle is a great way to encourage patients to sign up. For example, “Register today and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a gift card!”
In today’s socially-distanced world, patients are more willing than ever to adopt new apps and online solutions that allow them to carry on with life while remaining safe, making this the perfect time to get as many of your patients on the portal as possible while they are still willing to do so.
To learn more about Nextech’s patient portal, or to discover our suite of patient engagement solutions that can help your practice succeed in today’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape, fill out this form and a member of our team will be in touch!