Practice Notes

Looking to maximize your patient portal? First, build enrollment into the care pathway.

by Tiffany Chan

With Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) requirements nearing release (reporting periods begin Jan. 1, 2014), medical groups across the country are preparing their patient portals to meet a host of new demands.

But to earn the full incentive, you must meet two requirements designed to test your organization's accountablity for patient portal use.

Under the new requirements, more than 5% of your patients must use the portal to:

  • View, download, or transmit their health information (and)
  • Send a secure electronic message to their provider

Getting patients to use portals may not seem like something you can control, but one physician's experience suggests otherwise.

Dr. Anthony Stavola of Carilion Clinic took it upon himself to engage his patients on MyChart, Carilion’s patient portal. Today, over 42% of his patients use the portal, compared to less than 10% of patients in other Carilion physicians' panels.

The key to activation, Dr. Stavola realized, is to integrate sign-up and use into the care pathway.

Address portal registration from the start

Before, Dr. Stavola's staff distributed flyers and MyChart brochures at the end of each visit, encouraging patients sign up at home. But after leaving the office, only a third of patients would follow through with registration.

Today, Dr. Stavola addresses MyChart registration in the initial rooming process.

Nurses have been trained and equipped with scripting to ask patients if they are enrolled at the beginning of their interactions. If the patient is not, the nurse offers to sign them up on the spot. Thanks to this modified workflow, patients are registered MyChart users by the time Dr. Stavola sees them.

Make portal use a habit with patient follow-up

While enrollment is the first step, the ultimate goal is to make portal use routine. Several days after a visit, Dr. Stavola sends newly activated patients a message asking them to review their MyChart information and provide feedback. These follow-up efforts yield three benefits:

  • Patients become familiar with the messaging and information review functions
  • Staff spend less time verifying patient information accuracy
  • Patient satisfaction is improved by the added service touch and collection of feedback

Before putting the new process into motion, Dr. Stavola's practice spent years enrolling 900+ patients in MyChart. Once they implemented it, patient enrollment increased by 150 patients (16%) in a matter of weeks.

  • To find out how Dr. Stavola brought his team onboard with these changes, look out for our second post in this series—soon to be released.

More on Meaningul Use

Check out the in-depth analysis of Stage 2 requirements our colleagues from the IT Strategy Council released last year, then watch an on-demand presentation for tips to make your MU game plan a solid one.

Find out which characteristics make a patient portal successful, and browse our blog for the latest coverage of trends shaping medical group strategy.

Interested in Membership?

Learn more about the Medical Group Strategy Council and how we can help your organization. Contact us.