by Wendy Bartlett / November 27, 2018

Increasing Patient Portal Adoption

How can your practice increase patient portal adoption? In 2010, INTELICHART’s PatientPORTAL became the flagship solution for our HealthyOUTCOMES platform, so we know portals and have plenty of strategies for driving your patients to use them.

Two points are undeniable:

– Your portal holds the key to interaction with patients BETWEEN visits.
– Your portal brings you no value if patients don’t use it.

Interaction with patients between visits is a cornerstone of patient engagement, which combines patient activation with interventions in an effort to promote positive patient behavior. Patients who are engaged in their own care tend to be more compliant in their care plan and feel more connected to their providers, laying the foundation for an environment for optimal health.

In this era of value-based healthcare and government quality payment programs – along with patient consumerism – patient loyalty and engagement significantly affect the long-term financial viability of healthcare providers.

Considering that patients who use portals are 2.6 TIMES more likely to choose to stay patients, taking steps to increase your patient portal adoption is essential.

 

What can providers do?

Influence. Providers and care teams have one of the most important roles in promoting portal adoption. Facilities where providers inform and encourage patients to use the portal have a much higher engagement rate than those who do not.

Bring value. Providers should encourage their patients to access their lab results, send medical questions, and request appointments and medication refills through the portal.

Reinforce. Once patients are using the portal, the physician should continue to reinforce its use by mentioning the portal at each visit and specifically referencing a feature in which the patient will find value.

 

The #1 engagement tool…enrollment!
Organizations that complete the enrollment process at the point-of-care have a much higher adoption rate than those that do not. That’s why best practice workflows must be established and followed for completing the enrollment process at the time of service.

Enrollment is the first step to engagement. But patients can be slow or reluctant to enroll in their EHR patient portal — and many never enroll at all. Patients report not enrolling because they:

• Don’t remember discussing it with their provider
• Lack information or motivation — don’t have sign-up instructions or feel too busy
• Question the value of digital communication
• Need computer help due to lack of computer access or skills

Providers can eliminate these barriers by providing a simple, secure portal sign-up, developing a standard enrollment policy, registering patients in the office, and effectively marketing and educating both patients and staff members.

 

Add value by activating features that meet patient needs
You can assess which portal features have the most value by going straight to the source: your patients. Ask them about the features they want or find useful, and tailor your portal to meet their needs. Use these features to engage your patients in their care and make care coordination and communication more convenient, efficient, and effective — for them and for you.

Appointment scheduling is a feature that generates broad patient satisfaction. Patients can request, reschedule and view appointments at their convenience, day or night. If your portal has activated live scheduling, you are giving your patients the ultimate flexibility to make appointments that work best for them.

Another feature patients find valuable is allowing caregiver proxy access. Examples include:

• A parent of a child or adolescent
• An adult child or caregiver of an elderly parent
• A home health aide to a chronically ill patient
• A healthcare power of attorney responsible for an incapacitated patient’s medical decisions and care
• Someone else the patient wants involved, such as a spouse

 

Integrate patient-generated health data
Technology has changed how patients monitor their own health. One in five people use technology to track their health from fitness monitors to home medical devices. Using patient-generated health data has big advantages. Studies show it:

• Improves patient engagement and self-management skills
• Lowers hospital readmission rates
• Improves outcomes
• Is more accurate than patient reporting

 

External marketing tips
Make the message to enroll and use the portal highly visible in your practice by:

• Displaying branded posters in patient areas
• Giving promotional handouts to your patients
• Announcing portal features like online bill pay on patient billing statements
• Including the URL for the patient portal in your phone message greeting
• Having links to the portal on your website with verbiage such as: “Click here to make your
appointment” or “Click here to send a secure question or message”
• Sending email blasts to patients

 

The importance of internal buy-in
Internal buy-in is just as important as your external marketing strategies. Once your staff is sold on the benefits of the portal, they will enthusiastically encourage patients to sign up. Some tips to facilitate staff buy-in include:

• If appropriate, have your staff log into the portal as a real patient or a proxy
• Create an air of excitement with your staff about the benefits of the portal (working lunches, contests)
• Designate a staff champion who is on the look-out for opportunities to improve staff interaction with
patients on the subject of portal enrollment and use
• Tie professional incentives to successful use of the portal
• Demonstrate to your staff the efficiencies they can expect from portal usage
• Have your staff wear buttons to encourage patients and their families to ask them about the portal.
Seeing this button on other staff members is a good reminder to all staff.
• Don’t rely on a canned statement to introduce the portal. Consider who your patients are and
determine what is relevant to each individual, highlighting one or two key features that appeal to them
specifically.
• Inform your patients that the portal is secure, intuitive, and easy to navigate.

INTELICHART has comprehensive, professional consulting services to help providers implement best practices for preparing, deploying, and supporting a patient portal. Services include:

• gap analysis of current portal workflow
• defining patients to target
• structuring outreach to defined patients
• in-depth internal and external marketing
• scripting by role and patient interaction to maximize portal adoption
• analysis of overall expected financial gains from effective portal usage

Greater patient engagement. Better outcomes. Improved work flow. Cost savings. These are all compelling reasons to focus time and energy on taking the steps necessary to increase your patient portal adoption.