New patient engagement trends from TechnologyAdvice Research reveals digital engagement is a growing factor in how patients choose healthcare providers.
Quality of care has long been a primary factor in choosing a healthcare provider, but convenience and communication are also becoming key considerations for patients. Still, many physicians do not appear to be offering the digital engagement services that can meet those demands.
According to a new nationwide survey conducted by TechnologyAdvice Research, a majority of patients (60.8 percent) said digital services like online appointment scheduling and online bill pay are either “important” or “somewhat important” when choosing a physician. However, when asked what services their current physician provides, less than one-third of patients indicated they have access to either online bill pay, online appointment scheduling, or the ability to view test results and diagnoses online, which are the top three services that patients report wanting the most.
“Primary care physicians are reporting some of the highest rates of EHR adoption to comply with government regulations and to receive incentives from Meaningful Use, but a significantly lower number of patients claim to have access to these patient portal services,” said TechnologyAdvice Managing Editor Cameron Graham, who authored the survey. “The issue here may not be implementation of digital services, but instead a lack of patient awareness. If physicians are offering these in-demand digital services, a more proactive approach to promoting them is needed and could create an advantage in attracting and retaining patients.”
- If providers wish to gain an upper edge in attracting new patients (especially younger ones), and in retaining their existing patients, they should invest in a fully featured patient portal system. For many primary care physicians this should not be difficult. Most comprehensive EHRs include patient portal features, and dedicated patient portal vendors are making strides in integrating with third-party systems. In particular, prioritizing systems with intuitive online appointment scheduling, online bill pay functionality, and online test results could provide a significant draw for new patients.
- For practices that already have patient portal systems, they should dedicate resources to making sure their patient populations are informed of the existence of such services. They should also consider prominently featuring these services in their advertising and on their websites. When orienting new patients to their practice, providers need to have a plan for walking patients through the initial portal set-up requirements and making sure they understand the features available to them.
-For particularly tech-savvy practices, a dedicated smartphone app could help set them apart, and attract younger individuals.