Patient portals can be an effective way to improve a provider’s quality of care. By giving healthcare consumers access to their medical information, user-friendly scheduling capabilities and any of the other portal tools, you also give patients a way to connect with their treatment plan and amplify their engagement — both at home and in the office. When fully adopted, patient portals can even improve health outcomes for patients who use them.
Improving Care with Patient Portals
Patients can sometimes feel overwhelmed during a doctor’s appointment, whether due to unexpected news or complex medical terminology. Fortunately, patient portals allow providers to share clinical summaries after a screening or check-up, so patients can then easily reference their medical history or lab results on their own time. They can also use this information to send their doctor follow-up questions they may have forgotten to ask during the visit, thus helping them better understand their care plan.
Many patients, especially younger ones, prefer to schedule their appointments online. Patient portals allow healthcare consumers to schedule their office or telehealth appointments in a way that is most convenient to them, even if the office is not open at that time. As a result, they are more likely to make an appointment in the first place. Portals are also a great way to remind patients of annual physicals, important prevention screenings and vaccinations.
Understanding Low Portal Adoption Rates
As helpful as this technology can be, it still isn’t being used to its full potential. At two-thirds of hospitals, less than a quarter of patients have activated their portal. Despite our constantly-connected world, many patients still don't use or see the value in the patient portal.
Generally healthy patients may not use this technology because there isn’t enough valuable information there. Unlike those living with and managing chronic illness, they don’t have frequent visits or numerous labs to read and understand. Other healthcare consumers might not have the health literacy or technical skills needed to use this digital tool.
Improving the Use of Patient Portals
Nearly all healthcare facilities have a portal system in place, and many practitioners are trying to encourage their patients to use the technology. It’s important for healthcare providers to understand their patients’ barriers to adoption and how to best address and counter them. For instance, older patients are more likely to be concerned with information security.
To help you learn what makes your patients tick, try psychographic segmentation. This proven and proprietary model uses a short survey to glean insights related to patients’ motivations, lifestyles, preferences and choices. The PatientBond psychographic segmentation model places healthcare consumers into one of five groups: Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers. By identifying a patient’s segment, you learn how to communicate with them most effectively.
Direction Takers, for example, need specific information on how to fit things into their daily routine, whether that’s taking medication, doing physical therapy or accessing a patient portal. When encouraging Direction Takers to use their portal, you need to be specific. They will typically listen to doctors’ advice, relying on their expertise and credentials.
Balance Seekers, on the other hand, prefer to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare, based off of input from doctors as well as other health sources. If you’re trying to get a Balance Seeker on board with a patient portal, explain to them how they can use the portal to learn more about their health and any potential problems or concerns that may arise. They look for unique and helpful information, so if your patient portal provides that, be sure to highlight it.
Patient portals can be a great way to amplify engagement among your patients. The main hurdle now is encouraging healthcare consumers to adopt the technology. Fortunately, psychographic segmentation helps providers craft tailored messages that appeal to a particular patient’s way of thinking and can help them understand how the portal can benefit them. With improved portal use, providers can encourage patients to be more involved in their care, resulting in positive health outcomes.
To learn more about psychographic segmentation and how it improves health outcomes, download our case study.