Busy people use smartphones, tablets and other devices constantly to stay connected. Medical services now engage with patients through their portal for immediate, secure communications using the patient’s mobile devices.
A patient portal can be used for:
- Scheduling appointments
- Prioritizing patients who need immediate appointments
- Checking medical records
- Quick text messages
Busy people can easily make appointments online using any mobile device or computer. They can also ask to be notified when an earlier appointment becomes available. The medical or dental office can maintain a corresponding list of patient appointments, and the person ready to move into a canceled spot can receive a text message immediately through a patient portal. The patient will respond immediately when the message appears on her or his phone or tablet. He or she can call or text to accept the opening.
Patients often find this method far superior to spending five to eight minutes on the phone, mainly on hold. This also eliminates the need for the recorded calls to remind patients of appointments. Medical and dental office personnel find fewer missed appointments when patients schedule through their mobile devices or computers.
The quick communication via the portal allows the medical or dental office to decide who needs an immediate response as a result of an incoming text message. A patient may ask for information that can be easily relayed through the portal. Medical programs that provide an information service or hotline for non-emergencies also benefit from this communications tool.
All information is confidential when this secure portal is used. A patient may only want to know if a prescription can cause certain side effects not indicated on the container. The person at the desk can look up the patient’s record and give an immediate response. The patient does not have to sit on hold after listening to a recording of what number to press to reach the right desk!
Patients have no need to leave messages and hope someone returns their calls. The text is instant and the response should be timely. The Conversations system from Solution Reach is an example of a program for fast communications between patients and the medical provider. A free PatientReach mobile app gives instant access to medical and related services using this program.
The program allows the medical provider to keep a complete list of all conversations and communications.
All portal communications are synchronized to the patient’s records. Any recommendations — such as a notification to schedule an annual mammogram, eye exam or teeth cleaning — are on the record of each patient. This eliminates sending a letter or leaving a voice message.
An optometrist’s office can notify patients when their glasses are ready. The notification is added to each patient’s record that includes the eye exam, lens corrections and other details. Although this notification can be accomplished with a phone call, the text message may reach the patient faster.
Doctors now keep electronic records and that information can be transferred to the patient’s portal immediately after a visit. The patient has the results of the visit and prescription information.
The office of a medical service can leave a quick, reassuring message, such as:
- “Your tests showed normal results.”
- “Call us for a consultation.”
- “Did you leave a yellow bag in the waiting room an hour ago?”
The last notice is very helpful to remind someone of an item left behind in the office.
Millennials and Baby Boomers
Millennials (those born around 1980 or later) grew up with computer technology. These are the people using smartphones to manage their lives. The Generation X group (born between 1965 and 1980) also grew up with rapidly changing technology.
Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, are aging parents and grandparents. They have either embraced the mobile device technology or at least acknowledged (however reluctantly) that it can be helpful!
Older patients will email, and many of them will text. They have smartphones with touch keyboards making texting easier. They will tell you if they want to use this system for instant communications with your office.
Telemedicine has been used in rural areas lacking medical facilities. The ability to engage with patients through their portal is the future for these regions, and for urban and suburban areas as well. Patient portals make the best use of modern technology to benefit everyone.