07 Jun How Eye Care Patient Portals Increase Patient Engagement
Eye care EHR patient portals have become increasingly widespread in recent years. Patient portals that integrate easily with ophthalmology and optometry EHR software, such as MaximEyes.com’s all-in-one system, provide the most options for increasing connectivity, improving patient engagement and patient satisfaction, and reducing patient care costs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became more important than ever to provide advanced technology like patient portals to support your patient communication efforts. Let’s look at common challenges and several ways patient portals will help you see a positive spike in patient engagement and increase office efficiency.
Common Challenges with EHR Patient Portal Engagement
Before adopting a new EHR patient portal engagement strategy, you need to understand what challenges you need to address. While your plan of action will be unique to your practice, there are a few common barriers that most eye care professionals face.
Many patients are still hesitant to use a patient portal. According to this ONC Data Brief, the top two reasons for not accessing a patient portal have remained consistent since 2017: Patients prefer to speak directly to a health care provider or don’t believe they need an online portal. Other reasons included difficulties logging in, privacy or security concerns, and discomfort with computers.
Patient age plays a key role in user adoption challenges. More seniors than ever before are using the internet and own smartphones. The familiarity of technology is causing a critical shift—and your eye care practice needs to make that shift to stay relevant.
Older adults use more healthcare services yet need more encouragement and/or training on how to use a patient portal. Many are eager to use a patient portal to manage their medical care. This National Library of Medicine 2020 study suggests that more older adults can successfully access and use patient portals with more active training and support.
No matter the patient’s age, background, or education level, EHR patient portals can help you reach your patient engagement goals.
8 Ways EHR Patient Portals Increase Office Efficiency
1. Easier and faster online scheduling.
Your senior patients may still want to pick up the phone, but most of your patients prefer online scheduling. Online scheduling saves an average of 2–4 minutes per patient, allowing your staff to spend their energy making patients feel welcome instead of being distracted by the phone.
2. Get paid faster with online bill pay.
Giving your patients the freedom to pay bills from home or on mobile devices are conveniences they will appreciate. Send secure text (SMS) and email messages that remind patients of bills due.
Getting paid faster is great for you too, as your staff will decrease time hunting down payments, mailing out invoices, collecting funds over the phone, and manually posting payments. Your staff can reallocate these hours to higher priorities.
Pro Billing Tip: Researching denied or unpaid claims make accounts receivable (AR) a chore for staff. When you aren’t buried under repetitive tasks like insurance verification, eligibility, and filing and posting claims, you can focus more on your patients. A vision plan and insurance billing service team like Fast Pay Health can help you get paid faster. Check out our blog 12 Ways Eye Care Revenue Cycle Management Improves Cash Flow for tips on how to run a profitable practice, so your revenue doesn’t slip through the cracks.
3. Eliminate re-keying data and reduce data entry errors.
Manually entering patient health information can escalate into mistakes that negatively impact your patient’s care—this causes confusion and reflects poorly against the professionalism of your practice.
Eliminate re-keying data into your EHR and save time with automatic syncs for scheduling, billing, demographics, and health history data, allowing a complete view of the patient’s records at any time.
4. Provide advanced eye care and EHR interoperability.
Patient portals offer a seamless workflow and interoperability with your EHR, and they are an excellent way to connect with patients and deliver on-demand, secure access to protected health information (PHI) from recent doctor visits. The patient check-in and check-out processes are faster, and the patient’s visit will be more efficient.
5. Save time with online patient welcome (history) forms.
When a patient walks in the door, the last thing your patient wants to do is fill out a stack of paperwork strapped to a clipboard. Paperwork is time-consuming, causing unnecessary friction for everyone. Online medical history forms can be filled out in an EHR patient portal before the patient arrives for a smooth check-in process.
6. Send consistent, secure email and text message reminders.
Regardless of age, online security is a primary concern for your patients. Send and receive secure text and email reminders through your patient portal. Automated reminders ensure that nobody feels overwhelmed with managing patients and your patients get the attention they deserve.
7. Strengthen patient-doctor relationships.
When increasing patient and staff adoption, awareness and education are commonly overlooked by busy eye care providers.
Engage with your patients regularly and position your practice as a “one-stop shop” for all their eye care needs. Suggest additional products or services you recommend for each patient’s specific needs or interests. Use the patient portal to send eye care health tips, practice news, local events, special promotions, and office closures.
How do you encourage patients to register on the patient portal and keep them coming back? Do your patients know about your EHR patient portal? Start advertising. Does your staff understand the patient portal inside and out? Start training them.
The key is to make your patients’ first experience pleasant, so they continue to use their patient portal. Check out our blog, Patient Portals Move Patient Care Forward for Eye Care Practices, for a few tips to get you started.
8. Comply with the Cures Act Information Blocking Rule.
Provider compliance is based on “timely responses” to share electronic health information (EHI) data when a patient asks for it. While EHRs can’t perform the necessary actions that eye care providers must do to be compliant, First Insight’s EyeClinic.net patient portal (see video shown above) that integrates with MaximEyes.com EHR provides tools you can use.
For more information about how to comply with the Information Blocking Rule, see our blog, Cures Act Information Blocking Rule: What You Need to Know.
Overcome Challenges and Improve Office Efficiency Using EHR and Patient Portal Technology
Managing the patient-provider relationship and complying with Incentive Program requirements has never been simpler. A patient portal can be more than just another piece of EHR technology to learn.
When used correctly, a patient portal can be a valuable tool for your practice and your patients to share information, streamline online scheduling and billing processes, and develop closer relationships.