Three Ways to Get Your Patients to Engage With Your Patient Portal

dr_EHR / February 4, 2016

Meaningful Use has been around for the past four years but healthcare entities are still struggling to attest to meaningful use. One of the primary challenges has to do with the patient engagement requirements laid out in MU. For instance, Stage One required that medical entities get at least 10% of all the patients they see during the period to at least once log into the EHR system after leaving the premises and review their details. Physicians complained that this amounted to penalizing practices for what their patients did or didn’t do, which was unfair. So the CMS reduced this to 5% in Stage two but paradoxically, has suggested this be increased to 25% in Stage Three. There are some basic things practices can do to encourage their patients to engage with their patient portals. Here we highlight three practical ways you can get your patients to engage with your patient portal:

Actively promote portal usage by both staff and patients

One of the biggest reasons why patients do not engage with EHR patient portals is because they are simply ignorant of the fact they either exist or that they can be of use to them. Many feel like the portals are just there to make their life more complex and so will shy away from using them. However, if as a practice you extoll the virtues of using the patient portal and train your staff to actively promote and educate your patients on how to use the platform then there is a chance you will see an increased uptake in portal usage. This is borne out by the fact that small practices tend to meet MU attestation measures far more than larger practices or hospitals. The rationale is that smaller practices are better able to educate and inform their patients about the portal than larger institutions.

Implement a user-friendly and interactive patient portal

This is a design issue that you will have to be observant about. Many people shy away from portals (or websites in general) that seem intimidating and hard to understand. Add to this that the average patient will assume a patient portal will have the relative complexity medicine as a whole has come to be known for and you have patients who won’t even think twice about using the portal. Nevertheless, a user-friendly, simplified portal will be attractive to users as they will get a feeling from the onset that it’s something they can manage on their own. Some of the things to look out for are where to locate the menu items, how easy it is to log into the system or recover a password, where to find the most relevant information and shortcuts and so on. Getting this right will go a long way in helping your patients engage more with your patient portal.

Provide simplified educational and training materials

This can be as simple as a pamphlet that patients are handled when they come in. Such pamphlets can act as both a promotional and educational avenue as the pamphlet can offer information on why using the portal is essential as well as a step-by step guide on how to use the portal. The same can also act as a catalyst to begin having conversations with patients about the patient portal and how it can benefit them.

Getting patients to engage with the patient portal isn’t easy but following these steps could help it along and perhaps improve attestation scores that little bit you need in order to meet the threshold. As a healthcare professional in charge of getting your patients to use your patient portal, employing innovative ways to get better results is perhaps the only way to go.