Patients increasingly say they are interested in using online communication regarding their health care. For example, they may want to ask their physician questions, schedule appointments, or get lab results online. But how do you get them to use your patient portal? And what about those patients who have spent years calling the practice on the phone and are reluctant to use newer technology? Try these three strategies:
• Promote it effectively. If your promotional efforts only focus on how to use the portal, they’re probably not as effective as they could be. Identify the reasons patients contact the practice now and the benefits of using the portal to accomplish these goals. Describe these benefits in your promotional materials, and use multiple channels, such as waiting room posters, a flyer in new patient packets, information on the practice website, and on-hold messaging.
• Make it a team effort. The most effective time to persuade patients to try the portal is while they’re in your office. The physician’s encouragement is typically the most influential, but patients should also hear about the portal at check-in, during rooming, and at checkout, so engage the rest of your team in promoting it. Repetition can breed familiarity and, hopefully, acceptance.
• Take the direct approach. Consider walking patients to the checkout desk at the end of the visit (or having your nurse do it) and asking the clerk to get the patient signed up right then. Some practices also encourage portal use by telling patients that all lab results will be sent electronically through the portal.
The key is to help your patients see your portal as an indispensable tool for patient care and communication.
Read the full FPM article: “Removing Six Key Barriers to Online Portal Use.”
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