Why embracing the patient portal will save your practice time and money.
I understand that I may not be the usual healthcare practice patient. After all, I’ve been in the business for 30 years, and I help practices grow for a living. But when my family or I need healthcare, we become consumers. After all, illness is the great equalizer. Your EHR is many things. It can be your friend when it comes to communicating with your patients effectively and efficiently. When you encourage patients to consistently use your EHR’s patient portal, you’ll save your practice time and money while improving customer satisfaction for patients at the same time.
- Encouraging your patients to communicate through the portal messaging service will increase your patients’ satisfaction, and health.
How long does it take your staff to answer an email through the portal versus a phone call? From the consumer perspective, I can open the health system app, type in my question, and know I’ll get an answer back within a day or so. I use the messaging exclusively to renew prescriptions, schedule new appointments, and the usual practice related questions. I also have used it to ask questions about new treatment options and billing challenges. Each of these uses saved me, the consumer of your services, a lot of time. After all, as a busy working professional, my healthcare often comes at the bottom of the scheduling list. Allowing me to use the portal allows me to be a better partner – I likely wouldn’t take the time to get on the phone and ask most of these questions. The portal allows me to be more involved in my healthcare decisions, and ultimately healthier.
- Phone calls are inefficient use of a practice’s time. And time is money.
If I was interested in a new treatment option and had to explore it with a phone call, it would take your practice a lot of time to get me the answers I need. Several transfers and callbacks to reconnect would be required. By receiving the questions in writing, the practice has the time to do the requisite research and get back to the patient with the right answers and options, more efficiently which means better use of staff time and practice dollars.
- Your patients won’t use the portal if your staff doesn’t know how to encourage or teach them to.
I am amazed at the number of team members that I interact with in practices who have no idea what the patient portal even is. Train your staff first, teach them how using the portal will make their jobs easier and save the practice money, and then encourage your staff to talk to patients about it routinely. Every single patient should be asked at check-in, “Are you using our EHR?” If they aren’t, staff should know why and encourage its use.
Your staff can’t teach and champion what they don’t understand. Make certain EVERY member of the team knows how to access the patient areas of the EHR. This is as easy as giving each teammate access by setting them up as a patient in the system, and encouraging them to click on links, message the practice and play with the system from the patient perspective. Patients want to be involved and have the same growing expectations of ease of use for healthcare as they do other areas of consumer spending. My 86-year-old mother is on Facebook. She would interact with her doctor on the EHR if someone would take 10 minutes during a visit to teach her how. The investment to encourage patient use will pay off quickly in timesavings and increased patient satisfaction.