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Improving Patient Engagement

Tips to Help  Patients Get Involved & Meet Meaningful Use

FoxFire Systems Group understands that Meaningful Use requirements are currently under review. Click here to read the full outline of proposed changes. Although certain measure and requirements may change, FoxFire wants to offer some valuable patient engagement tips that may also assist you in hitting secure messaging measures.

Confused by Meaningful Use in general? Don't worry, FoxFire Systems Group would like to help! We've been working with Meaningful Use since it was first introduced over five years ago. We have been ONC-ACB Certified Complete for Meaningful Use stage two for quite awhile now and our clients have all successfully attested, whether it be stage one or stage two. We are even taking the next step to prepare for upcoming requirements our clients will face for stage 3. With that being said, we are confident that we know what we are doing. Our staff members have the knowledge and experience working with Meaningful Use to help practices at all levels.

To give just a bit of background info, Meaningful Use was originally established to promote the use of electronic health records as a method to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care. One aspect of this program was the ability to engage patients and families with their personal health information. Through the use of the patient portal and secure messaging, practices work to share patient health information and kick start the dialogue between patient and doctor. In order to meet the outlined measures, clinics must be able to attest to the following:

Stage 1

  • More than 50% of patients must be provided online access to their health information within four days of their appointment

Stage 2

  • More than 50% of patients must be provided online access to their health information within four days of their appointment
  • More than 5% of patients must log on to the patient portal to view, download or transmit their health information
  • More than 5% of patients must send a secure message through the portal to the provider

Unfortunately, these numbers are often some of the most difficult for practices to reach. Whether their patient demographic is an older population or one with limited access to technology, it can be difficult to get them to log on and complete the necessary steps.

To share a little bit of our experience with Meaningful Use, we have complied a few ideas and creative ways that practices can address secure messaging. If you are interested in taking advantage of our expertise and software, feel free to reach out to a FoxFire rep and we can tell you more about how FoxFire EHR is fully equipped for Meaningful Use.

Tips for Hitting These Numbers

Please understand that every EHR system may be different. These are tips based off our system and experience but may not be applicable to everyone.

1. Advertise Patient Portal on Your Practice Website

Now days, it seems like everything you want to know can be found online. Each day, you find more and more people using their personal computer or mobile device to access the internet for both business and pleasure. Capitalize on this opportunity to interact with your patients online by offering easy access to your patient portal. Place a direct link on your homepage and let patients know where this information can be found. Plus, by placing the link on your website, you not only offer easy access to your patient portal but you can also drive more traffic to your website. This is a win-win for both Meaningful Use and Marketing.

To get your link on your website, first speak with your EHR provider to get the accurate link. Once provided, work with your in-house IT or the company who manages your website to have the link added on your site. Ensure a new user can easily navigate to the link and test it to make sure it works. Once active, start driving your patient traffic online and let them have at it!

2. Use Appointment Cards to Promote Access

Don't have a website, don't worry. There are plenty of other ways to promote your patient portal. Once you have the link, start thinking of possible placement opportunities that get the most patient interaction. One of the more common items that clinics use is appointment cards. If you've got the space or are thinking of updating your appointment cards, consider placing your patient portal link on them. Because patients are more likely to hold onto their cards, this offers as easy access point. Take it a step further and educate your staff to point out this information in their conversation. Don't just hand out the cards. Let them know what the link means and why they should check it out!

3. Create Handouts Explaining the Patient Portal Process & Benefits

For some people, just explaining what the patient portal is and does can be a handful. You get into secure messaging and your bound to lose your audience. And to be honest, it's not the easiest thing to explain. So, one of the best ways our clients have found to educate their patients is to offer a printed handout explaining and marketing the patient portal.

You don't need the most colorful design or elaborate pamphlet to get your point across. Take advantage of the talents in your office and get help from your EHR provider to write up and design materials explaining the patient portal. Break it down for them in layman's terms and emphasize the benefits. Next time you are trying to get a patient involved, offer these materials as additional education to get them started.

4. Available Station At Clinic

Even though computers and smart phones seem to be everywhere, you are guaranteed to still run in to patients with limited or no access to the internet. On top of that, your older demographic may have access but simply choose to avoid the technology because they don't understand it. A lot of clinics find these setbacks difficult to overcome in terms of meeting Meaningful Use measures. A simple way our clients have found to get more involved is to provide access directly in the office.

If you have an extra computer and can give up a little space in your office, the clinic is prime location for offering access to the patient portal. Those without internet have the opportunity, right there, to log on and access their information. For those who don't understand it, offer a staff member to assist them and walk them step-by-step through it. This may seem time consuming but its an easy way to guarantee your patients are getting involved and you can hit your numbers.

5. Incentives

No, we're not talking about free stuff quite yet. That's the next point. Man, what is it with people and free stuff? What we mean by incentives is all the cool things that patients can do with the patient portal and secure messaging. If a clinic simply mentions the patient portal, most people aren't going to think twice about it. But, if you take the time to explain the purpose and the benefits, you might just catch enough people to hit your numbers.

At its most basic concept, the patient portal gives your patients access to their health information. Taking it to the next level, patients can use this access to check prescription information, review instructions that they might have missed and even speak directly with their health care provider. Got questions? Ask them. Pretty cool, right? Help your patients understand the power of engaging with their health care.

6. Giveaways

Ok, now on to the free stuff. If all else fails, people always love getting something for free. Several of our clients have found success in motivating their patients to complete the steps by offering a giveaway. From drawings for a new grill to a giveaway for a free visit, clinics offer material incentives for patient engagement.

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