Patient portals key to enhanced patient engagement

Patient portals enhance patient engagement

As patients throughout the country's health population continue to become more interested in monitoring their well-being and staying up to date on their medical records, patient engagement is quickly turning into one of the most essential factors for health IT. However, before patient engagement can be effective, it is crucial that physicians start to view their patients as members of their team or as partners.

Patient portals key to accessible health info
Marcia Cheadle, the senior director of clinical applications at Inland Northwest Health Services, told EHRIntelligence in a recent webcast that patient portals are key to enabling patients to become more involved with their health. Limited access to essential health information has made patient engagement a challenge for many patients, but implementing electronic health records that feature a portal helps providers and their patients overcome this obstacle and makes it possible to engage with this data.

"Consumers said that a provider's website needs improvement," Cheadle explained to EHRIntelligence. "That we could not find the portal easily on the website, and if we did find the portal, they're not easy to use, and they did not have an ability to find the information – either it wasn't there or wasn't the relevant information that the patient was looking for."

Cheadle pointed out that providers need to start testing different strategies on increasing patient engagement through their EHR system's patient portal to see which one works for their patients. 

Physicians must customize patient engagement strategies
As EHR systems with patient portals continue to be widely adopted by providers throughout the health care continuum, portals are becoming major drivers in encouraging patient engagement. The government has even included patient portal use in meaningful use requirements. 

Patient portals are increasingly essential today because people do not visit their doctors frequently and rely heavily on the Internet for health information. Allowing them access to their medical records and lab results online makes understanding their current health status while away from their doctors easy. 

To get patients more interested in using patient portals to stay involved with their health, doctors have to customize each introduction to the system. They should use a patient-by-patient approach to show users how the portal can benefit them specifically. 

While patient portals are tools that all patients can use to their advantage, providers have to modify patient engagement strategies to fit the needs and preferences of each patient, thinking of each one as a partner on their care team.