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Learn to make your patient portal engaging

By: Brian Gennusa | April 30th, 2015

Learn to make your patient portal engaging Blog Feature
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With the EHR Incentive program and other initiatives to make health care more engaging, the patient portal is more important than ever. However, as revealed at the 2015 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, portal technology has largely fallen short when it comes to fostering engagement.

An HIMSS Analytics study polled C-suite professionals from 114 health care organizations and found that 71 percent used portals to share data with patients. But the large majority said their portals were lacking in advanced functionalities needed for a desired level of patient engagement. With that in mind, consider these ways to enhance the engagement quality of your portal:

"Portals create lines of communication between patients and providers."

Understand the benefits of a properly used portal
By gaining knowledge of the benefits of portals, providers can expel any skepticism about these tools and begin to truly harness their power. Inform yourself and other staff in your practice about a portal's ability to create a new line of communication between the patient and provider, encourage self-care among patients, enhance satisfaction with the quality of care and bolster patient activation. Additionally, in a more basic sense, portals help fulfill meaningful use requirements that, if unmet, can lead to costly reimbursement penalties.

Implement engagement-focused features
Most patient portals provide only the basic administrative features, such as viewing lab results and scheduling appointments. However, as the National Learning Consortium points out, the more advanced and interactive a portal is, the more likely patients are to take advantage of the tool. One important feature is the ability to receive personalized notes from physicians.

An engaging portal can improve care quality, patient activation and overall satisfaction.An engaging portal can improve care quality, patient activation and overall satisfaction.

Promote portal use
No portal can boost engagement if patients don't use it. The whole staff should take part in encouraging people to utilize this powerful tool, going over standard talking points about the functions and benefits of the portal as well as handing out brochures during appointments. Your practice can also display informative posters and signs.

In addition to these suggestions, it's important to select a portal with advanced capabilities developed with engagement in mind. Nextech's patient portal not only allows users to view lab results and schedule appointments, but patients can also update their personal and insurance information, medical history and demographics in real-time. Additionally, the tool allows users to schedule appointments and manage refill requests, and doctors can use the portal to write personalized notes, thereby connecting patients and doctors in a way that was previously inconceivable.