Patient portals and patient engagement: Is there a link?
Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, more than 25% of a healthcare provider’s patients must actively engage with their electronic health records, presumably via a patient portal in most cases. Many of the inefficiency problems plaguing doctors and hospitals will allegedly be solved with the help of patient portals, as they’ll serve to organize data, facilitate communication, decrease costs, and, perhaps most importantly, contribute to increased patient engagement.
Given all the buzz around patient portals, it may be easy for providers to fall back on them as a quick fix for multiple issues. But how much can we really rely on portals to effectively engage patients? What should the true goal of a patient portal be? And, are there scenarios where use of a portal could actually detract from a patient’s experience rather than enhance it?
A closer look at patient engagement
According to research firm HIMSS Analytics, the term patient engagement refers to ‘an organization’s strategy to get patients involved in actively and knowledgeably managing their own health and wellness and that of family members and others for whom they have responsibility.’ Whether due to an overly complicated system, a lack of sufficient access to information, or other reasons, a large percentage of American patients simply do not take an active role in their own healthcare. However, links between increased patient engagement and better clinical outcomes are clear.
How can patient portals help?
There are a few key metrics providers should consider when implementing a patient portal. Portals that emphasize the following features are more likely to engage patients and decrease costs.
- Interoperability: One of the more frustrating circumstances of our healthcare system is a lack of information sharing between practitioners. Either two different physicians have to repeat the same procedures and tests on a patient, or the patient needs to spend far too much time on the phone requesting copies of data and records. A patient is less likely to want to engage with a patient portal if that portal is just one of many that he or she will have to become familiar with. Why bother learning to use a portal if the next doctor is going to have you learn an entirely different one? It’s too much to worry about in a culture that’s already notoriously short on time. A portal that integrates seamlessly across various platforms, however, is more likely to get patients to invest some effort and engage with their care.
- Transparency: Lack of transparency is an issue perhaps even more frustrating to patients than interoperability. How often do physicians take the time to thoroughly explain a procedure or condition to a patient? How many Americans have received a huge doctor or hospital bill in the mail and had no idea where most of the charge came from? Patient portals should promote transparency in our healthcare system. They should serve as a hub of information, with details specific to each patient as well as general literature that can help patients feel informed and confident.
- Communication: Getting a hold of one’s physician can be difficult. Doctors are busy and often overbooked, short on time even with patients who are in the office. Patient portals should serve as an avenue of clear, efficient communication, decreasing the need for faxes, missed calls, voicemails, and paper sharing. How simple to be able to log into an interface and see you doctor’s recommendations and tips, or to be able to send an email that your doctor will see and respond to within a few hours. If it will save them from having to wait on the phone or use outdated technology to communicate with their providers, patients will be more willing to engage with portals.
Patient portals can bring many positive changes to the healthcare space, but providers can’t rely solely on them to increase patient engagement. In fact, recent studies have shown that many patients are dissatisfied with portals and don’t feel they’re adding value. When might portals have a negative effect, leaving patients annoyed or confused? Imagine visiting your doctor after feeling ill for some time, then logging into a portal the following week only to see a fatal diagnosis pop up on the screen. You’d likely feel angry and helpless, and all you’d have to help you is the words on the screen. Human compassion can’t be replicated by a computer program, no matter how sophisticated the program is. Healthcare providers must take the time to discern between appropriate portal use and those situations where direct interaction is the best way to go. While solutions such as the blueEHR patient portal can get providers on the right track, it’s important not to dismiss continued efforts at patient engagement across the entire continuum of care.
- Mental Health: The Need For A Routine During COVID-19Apr 26 , 2021
- Mental Health Care In A PandemicApr 16 , 2021
- Part II: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Dec 18 , 2020
- Part I: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Nov 30 , 2020
- Covid-19: Ignorance is Not BlissJul 29 , 2020
- Covid-19: Why You Should Be Wearing a MaskJul 13 , 2020
- Part 2: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 15 , 2020
- Part 1: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 04 , 2020
- Data Aggregation and Its Importance: A WHOOP ExperienceMar 09 , 2020
- How WHOOP Could be a Trailblazer in Treating Population HealthFeb 13 , 2020
- How the Internet Changed HealthcareOct 18 , 2019
- Patient Histories: The Key to Quality CareOct 01 , 2019
- 3A’s (Aggregate, Analyze and Act) of Healthcare ITSep 19 , 2019
- Telemedicine – Benefits and ChallengesSep 04 , 2019
- Health Data Exchange StandardsJul 31 , 2019
- Telehealth: Technology meets HealthcareApr 11 , 2019
- Integrated Care: The Future of Behavioral HealthMar 29 , 2019
- Troubles with Getting Mental Health Help and InsuranceMar 15 , 2019
- 7 Things to do to Protect Against Ransomware AttacksAug 08 , 2018
- Oh EHR, how can we love thee?Apr 20 , 2018
- What’s in Store for Practice Fusion UsersJan 31 , 2018
- What is precision medicine? And how can EHR help?Jan 05 , 2018
- What’s the SOAPware alternative?Dec 15 , 2017
- Artificial Intelligence, EHRs and the future of health technologyNov 02 , 2017
- ACA Executive order’s impact on EMR and eHealth technologyOct 25 , 2017
- EHRs and Mental Health: What Needs to Change?Sep 29 , 2017
- American Medical Association (And Others) Unhappy With EHR ProvidersSep 22 , 2017
- A Celebration of Citizenship DaySep 18 , 2017
- Amazon’s Stealthy Foray Into the World of EHRAug 18 , 2017
- Google, the Gender Gap and Personal ResponsibilityAug 10 , 2017
- Neal Patterson and the Mission of Health ITJul 21 , 2017
- The Myth About Motivating People To PerformJul 14 , 2017
- Fragmented health data and personalized medicine: What to do?Jul 07 , 2017
- Apple’s Venture Into the World of EHR SoftwareJun 23 , 2017
- What does the U.K. health record hack mean for eHealth security?Jun 15 , 2017
- Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution?Mar 19 , 2016
- Are we ready for data-driven healthcare?Mar 12 , 2016
- Using Medicare And Private Sector Claims Data for Patient care QualityFeb 26 , 2016
- The Doctor must “Evolve” with the TechnologyFeb 26 , 2016
- The 2015 Practice Profitability IndexFeb 25 , 2016
- ‘Mind Your Risks’ – The NIH health campaignFeb 22 , 2016
- Middle East and Arab Health 2016Feb 03 , 2016
- Medical Billing in 2016Jan 08 , 2016
- CMS publishes 2014 National Health ExpendituresJan 02 , 2016
- Results from the Practice Profitability Index 2015Dec 16 , 2015
- This National Diabetes Month, you have a role in diabetes education and supportNov 26 , 2015
- Safe Texting in HealthCare: Do’s & Dont’sNov 18 , 2015
- Is TeleMedicine the future of healthcare ?Nov 13 , 2015
- Evaluating specific KPIs can improve business performanceNov 09 , 2015
- 50 Years of Medicare: More than 55 million Americans covered by MedicareSep 23 , 2015
- How Much Does Healthcare Cost Matter To A Patient?Sep 18 , 2015
- How does Affordable Care Act Change Your Practice?Sep 11 , 2015
- A ‘Don’t Do’ List to avoid patient no-showsAug 21 , 2015
- Add more patients and grow your medical business in 5 easy stepsAug 05 , 2015
- Medicare Trust Fund is now protected by the Fraud Prevention SystemJul 16 , 2015
- ICD-10: A Short StoryMay 19 , 2015
- Patient portals and patient engagement: Is there a link?Apr 21 , 2015
- Meaningful Use Stage 3: First LookApr 07 , 2015
- 6 Ways Physicians can Free Patient RecordsMar 17 , 2015
- Is the EHR market saturated?Dec 04 , 2014
- 5 Benefits of healthcare information exchanges for small practicesApr 22 , 2014
- New Study shows EMR Adoption Increases Patient Confidence, Loyalty and SatisfactionApr 22 , 2014
- Cloud-Based EMR Vendors and Patient Data SecurityApr 22 , 2014