One of the key components of Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements drives the use of patient portals. Before Meaningful Use Stage 2, only 20 percent of medical practices engaged with their patients online. Because of MU2 criteria, the majority of physicians will now have a website that allows patients to interact with the practice. But, in this era of patient-centered care – it’s not about just having a patient portal. It’s about what you do with it that truly moves the dial on creating better patient relationships.
While many people have voiced concerns that the measurement requires a certain number of patients to actually use the portal, the reality is that a world of opportunities opens up when you have this vital communications tool in place. Start thinking of this less as a requirement and more as an opportunity.
Confession time! This might seem odd coming from a health IT organization, but we’re not fans of the word “portal.” Portal is the technology and this opportunity is so much more than just the technology. This opportunity is about better managing the relationship with your patients.
Why do we call that an opportunity? Because your patients are your consumers. They’re your customers and, like customers of other companies, they’ll take their business where they feel they are getting the most value and the best service.
Today’s consumers are used to doing things when it’s convenient for them. They can shop online around the clock, not to mention around the world. At any time of day, they can go online to schedule an appointment to get their car serviced. They can order lunch at breakfast and have it delivered whenever they’d like. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, we’re used to being able to look it all up, get it scheduled, have it delivered or post a status update the minute we want to – on our own schedule.
Medical practices that want to thrive in this era of accessibility have to allow patients an option where they can easily communicate with their doctor, when and how they want. That’s outstanding service. That’s how great customer relationships flourish! If your practice isn’t offering patients that kind of opportunity, it won’t be long before they find a doctor who does.
Once this new communications channel is in place – your opportunities are limitless! You can offer personalized health information to your patients, connect with your community, build your practice through premium services, set up triggers based on diagnosis to track patient activity and stay in touch, target market your services, discuss health issues and trends through a blog, set up online bill payment and scheduling, offer classes, programs or rewards for wellness activities or build your referral network. That’s what we mean by opportunity – let your imagination run wild!
Did we mention we don’t like the word portal? We think it’s misleading. The definition of a portal is a door or gate, especially one of imposing appearance. There’s not a lot welcoming about that.
Our focus is helping enhance relationships between physicians and patients and by that we mean customers. It’s all Customer Relationship Management. It’s all about CRM. People buy from people. The relationship is key. In reality, each of us is always marketing, selling, servicing. The end results of our efforts are building relationships. Better relationships mean better service and higher returns or, to translate that into our world, higher quality, more cost-effective care. So, when you look out your portal, that’s what you should see. If not, come talk to us.