Only a gullible person would trust and believe everything they hear and read, and more often than not, a good dose of cynicism will help shed some light on the truth. Even with the advancements of available medical information on trusted websites, like www.webmd.com, patients still need to communicate and schedule routine office visits with their medical providers to get the care they need when they are faced with an illness or injury. Every good patient-doctor relationship involves trust, and that is the basis for the old saying "Doctor knows best." When a doctor encourages a patient to make a lifestyle change, it's for the benefit of the patient. So, when it comes to changing the way patients and doctors communicate, who is better than the doctor to champion online engagement through a patient portal?
It is absolutely necessary for staff at a medical practice to have expert knowledge on the features of their portal from the patient and doctor perspective, but patients hardly ever get that same education. So it is only natural that patients sometimes experience apprehension when they are invited to use a portal to retrieve medical information and communicate with their doctor. Alleviate that apprehension by taking 5-10 minutes with the patient and help them sign in and show them the available patient features of the portal.
Once the patient is in the portal, it really can go a long way to improve the confidence of the patient if the doctor reiterates to the patient during the visit that educational documents, test results, and any further communication should be handled through the portal. If the patient needs a better reason to make the switch, inform them that anything that can be handled through a phone call can be handled on the portal. When a doctor champions the portal, patients take it as sound advice from a trusted care provider who is trying to make their life better. The time is now to embrace the technology to boost patient engagement, because the portal is here to stay.