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Portal With a Purpose

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if parents could self-schedule appointments?” If you’re part of a busy practice, you know how much time a simple feature like this could save.

How about the frantic parent who calls the office one minute after opening because they lost the daycare form you gave them last week and little Harriet’s first day is tomorrow? Wouldn’t it be great if little Harriet’s mom could simply print the form herself rather than coming into the office and picking up a copy?

With older EHRs, that might have been mere wishful thinking, but no more. Your EHR is serious value-added technology for your practice, and the right engagement tools can even function as a subtle marketing tool. But perhaps more importantly, your EHR should help streamline your workflow and let you devote your time to what you and your practice care about the most: taking care of kids.

How does a patient portal help your day-to-day?

One of the simplest (yet most effective) features could be right at your fingertips: the ability to outsource the bulk of your scheduling to families themselves through self-scheduling. If so, you can choose whether you want to allow self-scheduling of well visits, sick visits, or both; whether visits can be scheduled for the same day or if they must be in the future. 

Your EHR should give you complete control over the process— and your practice can model your self-scheduling option off the same rules that currently apply to scheduling through your front desk.

Times when you have limited staff members working, it’s vital to assure they’re efforts are being utilized efficiently. By allowing your patients to self-schedule, you’re allowing your limited staff members to better focus their time.

How can a patient portal be used to engage the families in your practice?

Your EHR is a great way to meet millennial parents where they are. We live and practice in the era of the digital age; the EHR is already the primary way for many practices to reach out to patients, and a native mobile app makes it that much easier for patients to connect. 

Especially now, when social distancing is the norm and both families and practices are trying to reduce exposure, tools that allow parents to engage virtually – are a necessity.

Through a fully functioning patient portal, parents can do many things that might otherwise require in-person contact, such as viewing and printing vaccine records. It also allows parents to access what they need when they need it — which is often at the last minute.  All the things which too often get forgotten in the waiting room until they’re needed (daycare forms, camp forms, school forms) are easily accessible when parents need them even if that’s not during office hours.

That easy access and flexibility is something that those who grew up in the smartphone era not only appreciate, but have come to expect. Having the option to connect when and how they want is a powerful tool for keeping them engaged.

The bottom line

A patient portal, with a native app, self-scheduling option, and top to bottom customizability, can not only free up your time but keep families engaged and help you grow your community. Capitalizing on its functionality and maximizing its capabilities can help make your practice stand out as a leader.

Meredith Cheryba Cheryba
meredith@officepracticum.com


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