Patients are increasingly assuming responsibility for understanding their healthcare information and they are using patient portals to access content and documents regarding their health care. The use of the patient portal is a valuable tool to improve patient engagement, providing the patient friendly access to their protected information. A primary challenge is ensuring the portal is helpful and engaging to the consumer, and supports efforts of high quality care and successful outcomes.

RELATED: What are Patients’ Portal Preferences?

Patient Portal Service Options

One of the critical factors in the success of patients using a portal is having their medical provider recommend that they use it. Another important factor after the provider recommendation is the staff’s ability to use the portal and demonstrate it to the patient. A staff person is who the patient will immediately seek out to assist them with gaining a beginning level of knowledge and understanding. Engaging patients in portal use coincides with improvements with patients in the areas of communication, self-care and responsibility, experience, and satisfaction. Although initial adoption of portal use by patients may be low, it is important for the practice to maintain an ongoing communication dialogue with their patients to encourage utilization. This ideally can happen at various touch points with the patient. Asking patients about their portal use and experience is a way to obtain feedback about what patients like and don’t like, as well as encourage patients to tell other patients about their portal experience.

As mentioned above, your patient portal can be used to engage patients in a variety of ways:

  • Become more involved in the management of their care: self- management and reminders for preventive and follow up care.
  • Access to information: patients can review referrals, laboratory results, appointments, medication refills, clinical summaries, bill payment, and updates regarding any changes in your practice.
  • Secure messaging concerning patient specific alerts about their care and unique Innovation Programs patients may be enrolled in.
  • Patient education resources including an online library of articles about a variety of medical conditions.