Healthcare providers want to enhance their care of patients by taking their interactions online through patient portals. Indeed, patient portals are a useful tool for any individual or their caretakers. Some of the functions offered on many portals include messaging physicians, scheduling appointments, requesting prescription refills, and viewing lab results or visit summaries. Portals enable patients to take a much more active role in their healthcare.
However, a 2017 survey by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports that approximately 3 in 10 individuals were offered access to view their online medical records and viewed their records at least once. The survey also inquired the reasons for patients not accessing their medical records online. The top 3 reasons include preference to speak directly with their healthcare provider, perceived no need to access medical records, and held concerns for the privacy and security of their medical records.
As it stands, here are some ways healthcare providers can encourage their patients to access the patient portal more often, and use it in a way that benefits the patient.
In the same 2017 survey, researchers found that individuals encouraged by their providers to use the patient portal to access their online medical records were nearly two times more likely to do so than those who were not encouraged. Having the patient’s physicians or clinicians endorse using patient portals inspires patient confidence in the tool. Further, have other staff like nurses and receptionists promote accessing their records online as well.
Benefits Over Features
From a consumer standpoint, people respond better when they understand the benefits of a product rather than knowing what its features are. If patients appreciate the convenience of using an online portal, they’ll more likely accept the tool’s usefulness. Emphasize situations to use the portal functions, such as using the messaging feature to ask their doctor a question about their medication if the office is closed.
Viewing lab results and visit summaries may not be valuable enough information that will drive patients to access their medical records online. Instead, more useful and relevant information should be available to the patient via the portal. Some providers even include the doctor’s notes on patients’ visits in their records. Additional resources for further understanding and ways to manage health conditions are more meaningful than lab results.
Furthermore, the presented information needs to cater to a general-level of healthcare literacy. People need to make sense of the data at hand to recognize it’s value. Some portals present information in graphics and videos to help the patient understand their health record information.
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