How important is patient online access to your office 24-hours a day? It is vital!
At the most recent American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO) conference, I was part of a discussion with a number of doctors and other healthcare staff about the patient portal. We talked about the importance of the portal, and why it should be featured prominently on your website. We all agreed; the patient portal is becoming increasingly valuable for both you and your patients.
In this group, two of us were responsible for our elderly parents’ care, as well as the care of our own families. For us, it was a necessary option that we used regularly, and here’s why:
- We have work schedules that make it difficult to contact doctors during office hours
- We need the ability to schedule & double-check appointment dates & times
- We find it easier to navigate than a telephone auto-attendant menu – and no getting put on hold!
- We gain the ability to view test results, without having to wait for a call from the doctor
- We have 20-something adult children who prefer going online on their laptops and their phones. They are reluctant (to say the least) to use a phone to make a call, “Mom, I never know what to say!”
I speak from personal experience. As someone who works full-time and coordinates an aging parent’s healthcare, for me, the patient portal is important tool to manage my mother’s health. I can access and help her understand her test results, as well as schedule her appointments and ask for prescription refills…all when I visit on Sunday morning!
Since my 88-year old mother also has difficulty hearing, she has become increasingly frustrated with making calls. The patient portal gives her a feeling of control. She can check things on her own without the need to call and “bother the doctor’s office”…her words, not mine!
Although the adoption of patient portals has been slower than expected, research into patient portal use points out some interesting information:
Patients will use them, IF they are directed there by the doctors, clinical staff and front desk staff of a practice. Not surprisingly, offices that actively encourage patient interaction saw their patient portal usage climb.
What do patients look for on the portal? According to a recent survey*:
- 24% of patients noted online appointment scheduling as the most important feature.
- 22% of respondents wanted to access online test results.
- 21% indicted that they wanted the availability to view and pay bills online.
It all comes down to convenience and comfort. Having a patient portal offers your patients both.
If you want to read more about how the patient portal benefits your practice, check out a CareLink blog post: The Opportunities in the Regulations
*Survery information source: Health-Care Informatics.com Survey on Patient Portals