Will a 5 dollar incentive earn you 5 percent patient engagement?
Implementing a patient portal in your practice isn't necessarily easy but the benefits are significant, especially if you want your practice to earn Meaningful Use benefits and avoid penalties. According to healthit.gov:
"Effective implementation of a patient portal will help you attest to several patient and family engagement requirements of stage 2 meaningful use:
- Clinical summaries
- Patient-specific education resources
- Secure electronic messaging
- Timely access to health information
- Reminders for preventive and follow-up care."1
One of the problem areas for many practices is getting rates of patient engagement with portals up to the minimum of 5% in order to attest for Meaningful Use Stage 2 secure messaging requirement. The HealthIT.gov National Learning Consortium recommends the following,
"To simplify the portal registration process, have staff assist patients with the process, and consider providing a registration kiosk in the office. Staff can educate patients about how to use the portal’s features, and can offer guidance about the kinds of communication that are appropriate between providers and patients."1
But, hiring another staff member to staff your front office may not be the ideal use of your hard-earned practice income. A better solution may be to offer your patients cash incentives to sign up through the portal. One practice purchased $5 Amazon.com gift cards and distributed them to patients after they had both:
- logged in to the portal to view, download, or transmit their health record AND
- sent a secure message to the doctor with a template message (patients were told to write, "Dear [Provider], I was able to see my health record through the portal. Now I know where I can send you messages directly if I have questions. Thanks, [Patient]."
Patient engagement objectives are tough, but this strategy might just be the solution you need to get your practice across the finish line for Meaningful Use Stage 2.