You can see my other posts on what is a Patient Portal here.
While not the most complex aspect of a patient portal, personalization may well prove the most important. When I talk to hospitals about their portals, they all speak of one thing, the need to drive people to their site and the need to convert consumers to patients. You don’t drive people to your site and keep them coming back unless your site provides the right functionality and you make it easy. That’s where personalization comes in. When I say personalization, I mean one of several things:
- It knows who you are
- It changes the experience based on who you are
- It makes life easier so you don’t have to go looking, perform extra key strokes, etc.
So how should a good patient portal personalize a consumer / patient experience? Let me name a couple ways.
When you come to a site, you visit certain areas looking for information. You may sign up for a newsletter while there. When you return to a site, wouldn’t it be great if they provide content on the homepage specific to your interests? Wouldn’t it be great if they provided link to the hospital nearest you so you can easily hit that sub-site? With content personalization, you have many options but with one goal, make relevant content more readily available no matter where it resides on your site(s)
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Everyone has a Find a Doctor application. Very few have an application that knows who you are and lets you define who you are going to visit. When integrated with online appointments, patients will return to your site because you made it easy to interact with your doctors.
Once you’ve logged in, you can see past appointment, future appointments, etc. When integrated with your favorite doctors, it becomes really easy to make an appointment. When making an appointment, the pre-populated form makes it even easier.
Speaking of pre-populated forms, a good patient portal will allow you to fill out enough information about yourself so you never have to waste precious time filling out long or even short forms. Recent analysis on one hospital’s pre-registration form revealed 134 different fields. People spend a lot of time filling out that form. Offering to pre-populate the form for their next visit can drive patients to enroll in your portal makes them that much happier each time they interact with you.
Alerts to Renew or Refill Prescriptions
Send an email or show a message the next time a patient logs in. Provide a link that takes them to a page where they can make the request to renew or refill their prescription with only two clicks of button. (Can’t have one click, Amazon.com patented that……)
Ability to See and Manage My Classes
Non-personalized portals don’t even have a login. You have to provide a reference id to cancel your class or see details on it. With a personalized patient portal you can login and see old and future classes. The portal may even recommend classes or events you may find of interest.
Pay My Bills
Rather than providing a 15 digit invoice number, just login view your bill, and pay it in a few clicks. Most hospitals will still require you to re-enter your credit card number but it’s still easier than having to lookup that long numer.
Hospitals that are serious about addressing the institutional challenges they face, will make a site that caters to their patients needs. It will recognize the importance of the patient and doctor relationship. It will make it easy to interact with the doctor and the patient. By doing this, patients will visit the site, let you count that visit for MU2, and develop more loyalty to you and your affiliated doctors.