The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a campaign to make people more aware of their rights to access their personal records online. According to an April 2018 Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT survey, more than half of American patients are offered access to their online medical health records, but few people take advantage of the data’s demonstrated benefits.

Over the long run, Apple hopes to address this problem by making patient records available on our Apple devices – which will be useful for Apple customers, but won’t be the answer for everyone. For now, patient portals are the go-to resource across the board. Here are some steps medical providers can take to increase adoption of your own portals:

  • Help patients find them. Optimize content for search, and make links to your portal prominent on your physician pages and website. Offer more than one path to your portal on your site, and make your links visible and clear. On your social media sites, especially Facebook, provide paths to access, and make it clear that the portal may answer many of the questions people ask on Facebook.
  • Raise awareness. Rely on tactics such as email, opt-in mobile communications, and online/offline advertising to make people aware of the benefits available on your portal. Ensure that correspondences such as bills include a “Did you know you can pay online?” notice with instructions for using the portal to pay bills and get access to personal information.
  • Create access. Needless to say, your portal should be user friendly, with excellent navigation, intuitive layout, and a user experience that patients expect from the best consumer sites. Don’t treat your portal as an afterthought. The features you need to get absolutely right are those that create patient conversions and remove friction from essential transactions, such as Click-to-Call, Book an Appointment, and Bill Pay. Your patient portal can and should create revenue and appointments by making it easier for patients to do business with you.
  • Follow through. If your patients actively use your portal, they’ll create follow-up work for your staff. They’ll ask your physician about the status of a blood test. They’ll inquire about a bill. In other words, they’ll engage with you. This follow-through is good. But you need to be prepared for it. Train your staff to respond to patient queries promptly – online, on the phone, and in person. And remember that a portal that supplies complete information will also cut down on administrative tasks, too, and empower your patients to take more control of their own health, all of which are good for the patient and provider.

These are just some of the ways a medical provider should think about turning patient portals into centers for engagement and retention. Your website helps attract patients. Your portal should help keep them. Contact us to learn more about how to do both.