How to Increase Patient Engagement & Retention Using Patient Portals


I’m sure you get emails, see ads, or get your LinkedIn inbox spammed by people and companies promoting Patient Portals and dashboards. You may or may not see the benefit in using them. Or, you may want to implement some patient-facing technology like a portal but are unsure of how to get patients and staff to use the portal.

Well, I was recently interviewed by the folks over at SoftwareAdvice.com about this very topic, and thought I’d share some of the questions they asked. I’ll also link to the article they wrote on this topic.


Interview on Patient Portals

They asked 5 questions about patient portals and their use:

  1. What ways do you encourage your patients to use your patient-facing tech (patient portals, scheduling software, etc.)?
  2. Do you incentivize the use of patient-facing tech in any way? If so, how?
  3. Is your staff trained to encourage the use of patient-facing tech?
  4. Is your staff trained to educate patients on how to use patient-facing tech?
  5. Have you ever run a survey or audited how your patients use your patient-facing tech before? If so, what were the results? If not, is this something that you think would be beneficial?

The answers I gave them come from my consulting work with practices across the country as well as the processes and procedures I have put in place at my clinic, ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness.


What ways can you encourage your patients to use your patient-facing tech (Patient Portals, scheduling software, etc.)?

We begin encouraging patients to use patient-facing tech at the very beginning of their relationship with the clinic. This includes using the portal as a way to complete initial patient intake paperwork. Portals that allow for both mobile and desktop use decrease the barrier to use and most patients are willing and able to use them to complete intake paperwork this way. Once they’ve completed the intake in the portal, then it’s much less of a challenge to use it for secure messaging and the like. 


How do you incentivize the use of patient-facing tech?

At my clinic, we have incentivized the use of tech in two main ways. First, the main incentive is access: access to quick, secure, and individualized communication with their clinician or provider. Using secure messaging and other communication tools, gives patients a level of access not commonly available until recently. Many patients are happy to use portals if they know they’re getting access to clinicians. Secondly, we have used packaged services which involve asynchronous telehealth, synchronous telehealth, and access via portals.   


Should staff be trained to encourage the use of patient-facing tech? 

Staff should trained on both the user (patient experience) and on clinician tools and resources available through the portal. Depending on that team member’s role, they may simply need an overview of the features. If they are clinical staff, they likely need more in-depth training on the specific tools and functions and how to use it to improve patient care. 


Should staff be trained to educate patients on how to use patient-facing tech? 

We have developed systems at the clinic that include information and training for patients as they begin their journey with the clinic. Staff should be trained how to communicate and instruct patients on the use of patient-facing tech. As I’ve mentioned before, the front desk and patient intake personnel are the gateway to any practice and need to be able to guide the patient as they start their journey with your clinic. That includes the use of patient-facing technology. 


Have you ever run a survey or audited how your patients use your patient-facing tech before? If so, what were the results? If not, is this something that you think would be beneficial? 

We use surveys for patients to gauge their experience and thoughts about the care they’ve received in the clinic. This does include ease of communication, access, tech issues, etc. For the most part 9/10 patients say that they value online intake and access to portals. 


Read the article that they wrote about encouraging the use of patient portals here


Do you use patient portals in your clinic or facility?  Share any additional resources that you found helpful in the comments below!

For more informational reads, check out our Insights Page to see all the articles we’ve published to date, recent podcast episodes, and links to past webinars and videos. Or if you want to develop a system to attract, acquire, engage, and retain more patients to increase your clinic’s revenue, learn how Rehab U Practice Solutions can help  here! You can also schedule a call with Rafi to discuss your clinic or organization’s situation and learn here.

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show and the author of Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare. He has experience in a variety of rehab settings, working with patients recovering from a variety of injuries and surgeries. Rafi has worked in a variety of settings, from orthopedic and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, to academia, and even healthcare consulting. He spent the majority of his clinical experience working at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, where he was the lead clinician and clinical education coordinator for the outpatient specialty rehab program. In this role, he treated many veterans with chronic pain and helped to establish an interdisciplinary pain management program. He has worked on projects ranging from patient engagement initiatives to marketing communication campaigns to a multi million dollar project assisting the State of Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities transition individuals out of state institutions to community residences. His work on Telehealth has been discussed in Forbes. He also has experience as a core faculty member at Augusta University’s Occupational Therapy Program, as a Licensed Board Member on the GA State OT Board, and he serves on the Board of Directors for NBCOT. He works to help healthcare clinics and organizations deliver uniquely impactful patient experiences by improving service delivery, increase revenue, and deliver better outcomes.

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Medical Professionals RafiIf you’re ready to craft a strategy to help your organization bring in more clients, retain them throughout their course of care, and create uniquely impactful patient experiences, then reach out. We’d love to talk with you about how Rehab U Practice Solutions can help.

What we can help you do:

✅ Train your staff and clinicians to be able to confidently communicate the value your organization provides…

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We help you not only craft marketing messages & campaigns that build that know, like, & trust value you need to convert leads into scheduled clients; but we also work with your clinicians and staff to make sure that, once a patient decides to schedule an appointment, you have a system setup that keeps them happy, engaged, and satisfied throughout the onboarding, treatment, and discharge process.

In short, we help your whole organization become focused on the most important thing in healthcare: people – the people who work for your organization, and the people who your organization treats and serves.


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