Is your Health Organization Meeting the Communication Needs of your Patients?

How do patients like to communicate with your medical practice? If you’re like most practices, it probably breaks down by age group.

My father prefers to communicate with his providers in person or by telephone. For me, it’s the computer. I would love to jump on the computer and schedule an appointment or review the results of my most recent blood results. (I can’t. My physician’s portal doesn’t offer online scheduling.) My kids, especially, our daughter-in-law, prefer using a Smartphone.

She’s one of those super connected young women who do everything on her iPhone. For her, the idea of calling a pediatrician’s office, rather than tapping on an app to schedule an appointment or check test results is a major inconvenience, yet that’s what she has to do.

Sure, most practices, probably even yours offer online access, but in the ways that are meaningful to patients, it may be so limiting that it’s just a small step above useless.

How do patients WANT TO communicate with your practice? No matter who your practice serves, the population of patients who want to pick up the phone and call is shrinking with each passing day. People, even your older patients are busy, and waiting on hold to make an appointment during office hours can be enough of an inconvenience to skip making the appointment altogether. What are you doing to make it easy for patients who don’t want to interact with your practice by phone?

According to a recent Nielsen Survey, most Americans use digital tools to manage their important activities. The glaring exception among those activities is healthcare. According to the survey, less than 1/3 of patients have access to an online portal, and only 20% receive something as simple as an email reminder of an appointment. Most of us can spend two minutes online to schedule an appointment to have our car serviced and get a confirmation email and a reminder email the day before our appointment. That’s the kind of communication we’ve come to expect in nearly all areas of life.

Your EMR system was a significant investment, not the kind of technology you want to change without serious consideration, but you don’t have to change everything to improve patient communication. Instead, consider adding a best of breed Patient Portal that works with your existing system to help you meet the needs of your patients across all age groups.

As an example, WESTMED Medical Group recently partnered with Bridge Patient Portal and Medical Web Experts to offer a fully-integrated patient portal and branded mobile app. That partnership offers WESTMED patients secure and easy-to-use access to patient information, scheduling, and a variety of other features through either a computer sitting on a patient’s desk or through IOS and Android devices.

“WESTMED’s adoption of Bridge Patient Portal and the mHealth App Platform was in direct response to our patients’ request to communicate from a mobile device with their care providers,” said WESTMED Medical Group CIO Merin Joseph. “We know engaging patients is always challenging, so we sought to cater to how our patients want to communicate and to make that communication convenient. The physician provides the advice, but the patient has to put the care plan into place and seek to actively manage his or her health. This solution will enrich the patient experience, increase patient involvement in their healthcare, improve care coordination, enhance patient-physician communication, and, most importantly, improve patient outcomes. In short, this tool will provide patients with a way to actively participate in their own health and wellness.”

“WESTMED’s implementation, once released, will be among the most innovative patient portal and mobile app solutions in the market, and is only made possible through this newly formed partnership,” said Bridge Patient Portal and Medical Web Experts CEO John Deutsch. “WESTMED continues to make market leadership choices that address current and future healthcare challenges. This solution will allow patients to access important information and communicate with their care team anywhere and anytime from their device of choice.”

Your patients want to be able to communicate with their care teams via mobile phones and computers. The time is now to consider ways to make that readily available technology available to them.