As you look around the office on any given day, how many staff members do you see:
- on the phone booking appointments
- handling Rx refill requests
- dealing with administrative or clinical questions from patients
- manually entering data from handwritten patient forms into the EHR and/or PM
- dealing with bill payments
If you can imagine as much as half of that phone activity and data entry being accomplished with no staff interaction, you’re seeing the potential dollars and cents impact of integrating a patient portal with your EHR and Practice Management systems.
Now that patient portal technology has matured (to the point where it will be required to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2 starting in 2014), practices may be well advised to take a second look at the real workflow streamlining (read: cost reduction) that can be achieved with a truly integrated patient engagement system.
The Two Keys to Patient Portal ROI:
Getting ROI on your patient portal amounts to just two keys:
- Getting patients to use it
- Setting up efficient workflows
Getting Patients To Use The Portal
We know that many patients are quite interested in using online communication instead of the phone for most of their interactions with the practice (see blog post “Will Patients Use the Portal?”). They don’t like waiting on hold any more than your staff likes scrambling to find information while dealing with multiple patient calls simultaneously.
But our experience shows that patients do not beat a path to your patient portal. Rather, they respond when your promote it. Make sure you showcase the portal in your waiting room, front office staff are trained for when patients are checking in and checking out, and most importantly that you have staff buy-in that this is a solution that will improve the practice.
Omedix clients also get access to our Customer Support team for several personalized, effective strategies for improving patient use of patient portals and increasing typical registration rates for patient portals.
Setting Up Efficient Workflows
Now that patients are actually transacting on the portal, the next key is to make sure that their participation means more efficient workflows for you.
The key here is integration. With integration of portal, EHR and PM systems, some labor-intensive functions can be totally automated, while others can be made significantly more efficient. For that reason, integration into systems like Centricity, Allscripts, SRS, IO Practiceware, and others becomes important. Check out Omedix integrations to see if we integrate with your PM/EHR.
Key workflows require tight integration with your existing systems, which is why it’s important to distinguish between “interfacing” and “integrating”. It’s not just about getting one system to read data from the other, but making sure that your full workflows are accounted for.
Assuming you’ve got the integration you need, the training you need, the workflows defined, and the patients to use it, now you’ve got some real value being created:
- Patient intake will be streamlined
- Appointment booking, changing and cancellation will be done all electronically
- Patient questions, both administrative and clinical, will be answered with less use of staff and physician time
- Qualification for enhanced reimbursement through Meaningful Use
- Plus some “soft” values like an enhanced patient experience that encourages both retention and referral
While the revolution in health care is just beginning and Omedix is working on some exciting things to come, there are real ROI benefits from systems that are available right now.