Strategies for introducing patient portals

Strategies for introducing patient portals

One of the most innovative and useful features of electronic health records is undoubtedly the patient portal. This aspect of your practice's EHR program allows patients to easily access their medical information, make appointments, refill prescriptions and get in touch with you.

While you know all the benefits of portal use, it can be difficult to explain how convenient this feature is to your patients – especially those who do not consider themselves tech-savvy or are tentative to accept digital medical records. Use these talking points and discussion strategies to help explain the benefits of using patient portals to the people you care for. 

Timing is everything 
First, it is important to be tactical in terms of when you bring up patient portals. Physicians Practice recommended adjusting your telephone system's prompts as an efficient first step toward exposing your patients to the usefulness of EHRs. The source used this statement as an example of what to record for your appointment-making line

"For your convenience, you can now view our open appointment time slots online and schedule your next visit from your computer or smartphone. Please visit [your patient portal address] to schedule and appointment. To hear this website address again, please press one. If you would rather wait to talk to a member of our scheduling team, please press two."

A message like this is effective for a few reasons. First, it reminds patients who have been told of EHRs that they have another option in addition to calling. If people are trying to make appointments during their work or school days, they may prefer the convenience of simply opening another tab on their computer and getting a calendar filled with available appointment times. For patients who have not received information on EHRs, a message like this could spark some interest and they may be more likely to ask you about them during their next visit. 

Include EHR information on all phone line messages, and have your receptionists mention the systems to patients when they check in and out of appointments. 

Focus on positives 
Always highlight EHR benefits, since people want to know how these digital systems will improve their medical care experiences. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended focusing on these aspects of EHRs when talking to patients:

  • More efficient communication
  • Access to clinical summaries
  • Secure messaging
  • Automated reminders for proactive and follow-up care
  • Educational resources.

DHHS noted that people are more likely to be receptive to patient portals if their doctors take an active role in explaining and recommending them. If you're worried about getting patients on board with EHRs, simply make talking about them a top priority.