Provider Involvement Essential to Patient Portal Adoption


By Angela Dangelo, Patient Portal Specialist, Beacon Partners
Twitter: @BeaconPartners

Motivating your staff, particularly physicians, to participate in patient portal training and promotion is challenging. Yet studies show that securing provider involvement is essential to driving patient portal adoption. Understanding your organization’s workflows and knowing what educational methods work for your staff can guide the creation of a tailored training program that will transform your entire team into advocates for patient portal use. Below are effective training approaches for hospital and physician practice settings.

Hospitals have more staff and clinicians to train than a physician practice. Yet the depth of training is often less intense since hospital staff may not be expected to manage interactive portal features, such as appointment requests.

  • Round on all floors on all shifts daily. Offer five-to 10-minute brief information sessions about the patient portal’s features and value to patients. Your message should be informative enough to educate staff, but impressive enough to engage patients.
  • Host 30- to 60-minute formal training sessions.  Hold sessions in a separate conference room to minimize distractions and encourage impactful discussions.
  • Implement train the trainer initiatives. Recruit nurse managers or other unit leaders to take ownership of message delivery for their nursing team and patients. Since nurses are on the front-lines providing patient education, they are trusted, authoritative advisers to patients.
  • Offer training materials in a variety of formats. Elevator speeches, job aids, cheat sheets, FAQs, and online presentations are effective delivery methods to educate your staff.
  • Involve online training. Use email and online modules to make materials available for staff who may have missed a session or need a reference guide. If your hospital has a training website, store the training presentations there so it’s easy to access.

Physician Practices
Physician practice staff may need more hands-on training since they will likely be required to manage interactive features, such as secure messaging with healthcare providers and refill requests. Demonstrate to staff that the patient portal will not necessarily increase their workload by emphasizing how the portal acts as an alternative communication method for patients. Instead of handling phone calls, staff may instead handle electronic patient communications.

  • Conduct onsite training and demonstrations for staff. Portal demonstrations should provide staff with a view of their side of the portal, as well as the patient-facing side. Onsite training allows staff to practice navigating the portal, understand workflow changes, and to ask questions about use.
  • Provide easily accessible training and guides for the staff. Reference materials should include screenshots and step-by-step instructions about patient portal features.
  • Consider what types of training techniques have been successful for your organization in the past. Since you know your organization better than anyone, apply effective training approaches that you know work. An example may include identifying “super users” to employ a train the trainer approach for onboarding new employees.

Training staff and clinicians requires a strategic, time-intensive, and personalized approach to reach them while they juggle many competing demands.  While outsourcing options are available, hospitals and physician practices need to invest in training initiatives that will successfully encourage patient portal adoption.

About the Author: Angela Dangelo is a seasoned healthcare professional with experience managing multiple implementations across a variety of settings. Her most recent experience includes implementing a patient portal at a large multi-specialty health system and affiliated medical group practices. Angela’s portal experience includes development, implementation, integration, testing, and creating marketing collateral and training documentation. She has worked with a diverse group of providers — from single specialty, independent practices, to large multi-hospital health systems. This article was originally published on Beacon Partners Blog and is republished here with permission.