Moving Beyond the Patient Portal: What Lies Ahead for Patients and Providers

By Raj Toleti, SVP and general manager, Allscripts – FollowMyHealth/HealthGrid

Look around south Florida’s Nicklaus Children’s Health System and you’ll see very little paper or clipboards circulating when a new patient arrives. Almost 100 percent of patient onboarding now is done electronically. They have moved beyond the patient portal.

That is just the start. Parents and other caregivers can receive a variety of information, assistance and tools at every phase of their child’s care, from acute to ambulatory, when they need it and where – on the mobile devices they have at hand.

As consumers, we now gather or give information and conduct transactions when they make the most sense for us, such as calling up online maps when we hit the road or hailing a ride when we don’t want to drive. The same real-time convenience should be available to help patients manage their healthcare.

Patient portals provide an online means to pay bills, refill prescriptions, message physicians, look up lab results and access care summaries or pre- and post-procedure instructions. But they often are considered cumbersome and inconvenient, requiring complicated login credentials, and the result is a lack of widespread adoption. That means the clear majority of patients aren’t as actively involved in their care as they could be.

Where such patient engagement remains low, it is harder to fill the care gaps needed to reduce readmissions and improve patient outcomes. That, in turn, influences patient-satisfaction and quality scores now tied to government reimbursements for today’s value-based care.

We must meet consumers where they now live: their smartphones and tablets.

Moving beyond the patient portal to a more direct, mobile experience requires a significant shift. Hospitals must provide reliable, abundant Wi-Fi service. Care teams must be comfortable communicating through new channels. Patients must trust the equipment and applications. There will always be a certain percentage of patients who will not engage via this method, but if someone, say, doesn’t check in electronically, a staff member can do it for them.

A lot of health systems want to move beyond the patient portal, but they don’t know where to begin. One good starting point is to develop a technology roadmap that provides patients more mobile options to connect, communicate and comply with care plans. Make sure that mobile solutions use a unified platform. Part of the problem with today’s patient portals are siloed software from phased builds and different vendors that don’t integrate well enough – if at all – for a seamless user experience. A unified mobile platform pulls everything together to avoid a disjointed patient experience.

And always remember: it’s about elevating the patient experience. We have a plethora of solutions. It’s deciding how to stitch all of these solutions together to make them work for the patient. We must be thoughtful and mindful when deciding how best to create a consistent and convenient patient experience to move beyond the patient portal.

Do that, and we all will move the needle forward.

Learn more about how your organization can elevate the patient experience by visiting healthgrid.com. Continue the conversation at the FollowMyHealth Booth #5779 at HIMSS19. HealthGrid is now FollowMyHealth.

Sponsored content. The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

 

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