- Healthcare providers can use patient portals such as appointment bookings, reminders, and intake forms to promote patient engagement before clinic visits.
- Shared decision-making promotes patient engagement as physicians involve patients and they both work together to make decisions about tests, care plans, and treatments.
- Providers can use patient portal features like chats, video calling, medication reminders, vital checks, and emergency contact, for aftercare engagement. Patient portal platforms also update patients on payment and educate them on health and well-being.
The healthcare industry emphasizes patient-centric apps, websites, and healthcare software to improve care and engage patients. The patient portal is one such online platform loaded with many features and functionalities to boost patient engagement and experience. The primary aim of patient portal engagement is to make people aware of their health conditions and make them competent to make informed decisions about their health.
Research demonstrates that patients’ ability and interest to use patient portals are highly influenced by personal aspects such as ethnicity, age, health literacy, education level, role as a caregiver, and health status. Besides this, patient portal usability and provider endorsement also contribute to patients’ ability to engage with patient portals.
Importance of Patient Portal Engagement
Effective patient portal engagement is necessary to curb healthcare costs, preserve resources, and improve patients’ health. Here’s why patient portal engagement is important for healthcare organizations:
- Reduce Cost: Patient care takes up plenty of hospital resources and time, which increases the over healthcare costs. Engaging patients via online follow-ups, post-surgery care, and medication reminders can prevent hospital readmissions (which cost significant money), travel time, and wait time at hospitals.
- Improve Patient Education: Engaged patients will always read instructions, and go on patient portals to check new tips and articles on diseases. They’ll keep themselves updated about their symptoms and recovery via educational resources and interaction with their providers.
- Long-Term Health and Well-Being: Patients who are constantly in touch with their health are likely to notice symptoms way before it becomes a serious issue.
- Patient Retention and Satisfaction: Healthcare providers who practice shared decision-making or allow patients to have a voice in the treatment plans are more likely to engage patients effectively. Patients feel respected and heard when they can speak freely and such patients will keep coming back for health services.
Effective Strategies for Patient Portal Engagement
1. Segregate Patient Population
Every patient is unique and hence needs personalized treatment plans. By segregating patient populations according to age, disease, gender, etc., providers can prepare authentic care plans for them. Personalized plans always attract patients as they not only enhance experience but also bolster patient engagement.
Providers can kickstart the segregation process immediately after patients have registered themselves on the patient portal platform. The intake form covers all the necessary details for classifying the patient population.
Providers may separate patients as per the following criteria:
- Demographics: Covers age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
- Psychographics: This helps to determine patient behavior patterns and includes beliefs, fears, motivation, personality, attitudes, interests, opinions, values, etc.
- Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): Covers the environment a patient lives in as it directly affects mental and physical health. For example, food, hygiene, mental health of family members or roommates, etc.
2. Start Engagement Before Visit
Initiating patient engagement before a visit has its own set of benefits. Firstly, patient portals offer an online appointment scheduling feature that allows patients to book their visits at any time, right from the comfort of their homes. This hassle-free experience of appointment booking bolsters patient experience and satisfaction, thereby setting a pace for upcoming visits.
Secondly, patient portal platforms have a built-in notification feature that reminds patients about their appointments, medications, and delays in check-ups. Notifications are a great way to engage patients with their healthcare service provider. Timely reminders also reduce no-shows and cancellations.
Lastly, patient portals offer intake forms for prior registration and appointments. This intake form prepares healthcare providers for the upcoming questions presented by the patients.
3. Patient Engagement During Visit
Ways to engage patients during hospital and clinic visits include:
- Make use of patient portals to gain insights into medical records.
- Hear what the patient has to say about their ailment.
- Involve patients in treatment plans, and cross-check whether they’ve understood their diagnosis and treatment.
- Maintain price transparency as it builds trust and confidence in patients.
- Ensure that patients share every small detail, to provide adequate treatment.
Patient engagement during the visit is as important as before the visit. Take all possible actions to elevate patient participation in the long run.
4. Importance of Shared Decision-Making
Shared decision-making promotes patient engagement and contributes to achieving better outcomes. In a general setting, a physician would examine a patient, check past medical records, and recommend a prescription. However, shared decision-making changes the narrative where physicians make all the decisions. Rather they involve patients and they both work together to make decisions about tests, care plans, and treatment.
Patient portals are equipped with calling and messaging features that make it easier for providers and patients to communicate and work toward an effective treatment plan.
5. Aftercare Patient Portal Engagement
Once the patient is released from the hospital, it doesn’t mean that he/she is fully healed. They need additional care and support post-discharge to recover completely.
Providers can use patient portals for aftercare engagement because the platform offers features like chats, video calling, medication reminders, vital checks, and emergency contact. Patient portal platforms also update patients on payment and educate them on health and well-being. All these aspects contribute to patient portal engagement.
The thought behind developing patient portals is to engage patients and allow them to seek healthcare as per their convenience. Patient portal features such as online appointment bookings, access to medical records, secure payment gateways, video calling, chatting, and much more, engage patients effectively. These portals do more than just engage patients, they ensure that medical records are kept safe and secured (due to HIPAA compliance), and build a community of healthy individuals.
If you’re looking to develop a patient portal for your organization, then connect with Arkenea, a top-notch healthcare software development company with over 12 years of experience. We believe in delivering products that satisfy our clients and meet industry standards.