Patient portals have revolutionized the way that patients and their providers interact with one another. From communication to scheduling, prescribing, and an individual’s access to their Personal Health Information (PHI), patient portals have made it possible for individuals to play a more active role in their care.

The issue that many providers are running into is not that there is a lack of great tools and technology, but that there are not enough patients signing up to participate. How can patient portals improve the patient-provider relationship and how can facilities increase adoption rates among those they work with?

The Impact of the Patient Portal:

  • Better Patient/Client Experience – Clients that utilize their portal have a better overall experience with their care. They can schedule more easily, communicate more effectively, and review information all in one place, rather than having to track it down or wait until their next visit.
  • Improved Communication – Communication is everything when it comes to the patient-provider relationship. In the field of behavioral health, patients might need to ask a question in a crisis, request a closer appointment, or ask for resources. The client portal allows for a direct line of communication between the patient and provider.
  • Fast Scheduling – A quality online tool will simplify the scheduling process for clients by allowing them to view your entire schedule and pick the appointment that makes the most sense for them.
  • Appointment Adherence – Patient portals help to increase appointment adherence by giving them the chance to sign up for reminders. Text, email, and phone call reminders are automatically sent to remind patients of their upcoming appointment.
  • Better Engagement – With clearer access to their provider, information and an overall better experience, clients and patients are more likely to engage in their care. Engagement is important for individuals that want to see positive outcomes. Those who engage in their care regularly and as scheduled have more opportunities to address issues and adhere to the track that they are on with their provider.

How to Improve Patient Portal Adoption:

  1. Enroll as Soon as Possible – At the first point of contact, sign your patients up. A great idea is to include it as a component of the enrollment process. When they come in for their first visit, enroll them in the software and show them how to access it so they know what to expect moving forward.
  2. Educate the Patient – Take time during enrollment to walk through the capabilities and benefits offered within the client portal so that they know what they can gain from using it. Click through the different tabs, show them how to send a message, show them how to schedule an appointment, and educate them on how great of an experience they can have should they utilize it. Taking the time to walk them through it is a great way to set the tone for future use.
  3. Give Them Every Opportunity to Sign Up – If your practice sends out content like emails, then you should use this as an opportunity for them to sign up. Link to the patient portal enrollment page at every opportunity to maximize the number of individuals signing up. Not only this but at the start of every visit, if they have yet to sign up, ask them if they would like to. The more opportunities you give them, the better your chances are at getting them to participate.
  4. Prepare Your Staff – Every client/patient-facing member of your staff should be educated on the benefits of the patient portal and how to sign patients up. The more people on your team that know how to complete this process, the more patients you can sign up.

While patient portal adoption can be tricky to figure out, following these steps should help. By giving your patients access to a quality portal, the more likely they are to have a positive experience and play a more active role in their care. To learn more about a patient portal designed specifically for behavioral health providers, click here.