It seems that almost every website you visit these days wants you to login in one way or another. However, unlike social media and other sites your patients may visit for fun, you can’t have them use their facebook account to login or give them easy one-click access to your portal. By its very nature a patient portal is designed to be its own unique secure system for patients to access their information. That means yet another username and password for them to keep track of and yet another barrier to having them use it. That said it is no wonder that practices of all types and sizes have a tough time getting patients to use their online patient portals. To help you with that big task we are going to cover some of the reasons why patients may not be using your portal and what you can do to fix it.
Make sure your patient portal is user-friendly
You need to make sure the portal solution you are using is easy to operate and isn’t confusing to your patients. We have seen some portals that make even the most simple task head spinning. This isn’t social media and your patients are not going to hang out on your portal. Chances are when they login it will either be to setup their account for the first time or to complete a specific task like access a secure message for you. When they do login they need to be able to quickly and easily accomplish the task they set out to do. If you portal makes it too difficult chances are they won’t spend very long trying to figure it out and won’t come back to use it again after that.
Know your patients
Your online Patient Portal is only meant for one person your patient. If your portal doesn’t appeal to them and provide them the ability to make use of it then they won’t. If your patients aren’t using your portal the easiest way to diagnose the problem is to just ask them. Find out if they know you have portal and how to access it. Ask patients if they have and aren’t using it. If you know they aren’t simply ask why they don’t use for you portal. The more information you can get by just asking your patients the better equipped you will be to address the issue. This will give you a better idea of things they would like to see included such as secure messaging, patient reports, and the option to submit prescription refills. You need to have a firm idea of what type of patients you are serving and how they specifically use your portal if your ultimate goal is to increase usage of it.
Make it look secure to your patients
Lately it seems that the internet is for stealing and hacking. In the past few week alone the technology world was rocked by two major security holes, Spectre and Meltdown. This isn’t the first time either there was Heart-bleed, A rash of Ransomware and even a major credit bureau was hacked last year. That is why it is more important than ever to ensure that your patients know that their information is safe and secure on your portal. Something as simple as a SSL Certificate ( the little lock that shows up in the address bar when you visit a secure site ) on your site can go a long way. You also want to make sure you let patients know that their safety and privacy online is a priority to your practice. This will help make patients who are concerned with their information online or worried about security understand they are in good hands.
Explain the benefits to your patients
Although most us in the medical industry understand the purpose of an online portal and the typical features most patients don’t. They don’t understand what they can and can’t do through a patient portal and for the most part what a patient portal really is. If you are trying to increase the usage of your portal you want to make sure that you are making clear to your patients what your portal can do for them and explain to them how to use it. Help them see the benefit and what is in it for them. They need to know what they will get out of using the portal and why using the portal is good for them.
Marketing is key
Although it may seem a bit obvious another key to making sure your portal is being used by your patients is simply making sure they know it is available to them. You need to make sure that you are marketing your portal to them and reminding them that they can access it whenever they want to. Something as simple as asking them if they have registered for your online portal at checkout can go a long way.
At the end of the day a big part of getting portal usage comes down to patient education and their buy in. Part of what we do at filmMED is to help you create marketing strategies to market your online patient portal. We also help practices ensure that the portal is considered and featured as part of the web design process. This makes it easy for a patient to login and find your portal regardless of what kind of device they are on. To learn more about how filmMED can help your practice, contact us today!