Innovations in technology have helped to make great strides in improving the patient experience. That is, when they are used. Take the patient portal for example. My team and I recently conducted patient focus groups in three unique markets to assess patient expectations, desires and experiences. Several things became apparent during the analysis, one of which was the link between patient satisfaction and their use of the portal. The second was that nearly all of the portal “super-users” (individuals using the portal to schedule, communicate with providers, review visit summaries and check lab results) learned about the portal and its capabilities from their providers.
Patient Portal Adoption and Usage
This information reaffirms that providers play a major role in portal adoption and usage. Patients who used the portal regularly reported higher satisfaction with provider communication. Why then, is the portal underutilized in many practices? Could it be that many providers still see the portal as a meaningful use task on a checklist rather than a vital communication tool?
Staff frequently adopts a box-checking mentality when modeled by providers. I observed this while sitting in a waiting room. I overheard the front desk attendant describe the portal as, “Just a place where you can log in to see your lab results.” She followed with, “You don’t need to worry about that now.” The patient was new to the practice and filling out initial paperwork.
What messages are you sending about the patient portal, its capabilities, and the benefits to your patients? If you aren’t giving it the attention it deserves, maybe it’s time.