I am guilty of a few things – being a millennial, working for a cloud-based Health IT company, and watching a loved one navigate the clinical trial space. My computer doesn’t have a CD drive, I rarely print, and the last time I faxed something was for a high school internship.
So, it’s safe to say that items like a questionable looking website, an inability to easily share and receive my medical data, and a lack of access to my physicians in a patient portal, have become a major turn-off when I select practitioners.
But it’s not just me (I promise!), research from a survey we conducted over a year ago of over 1,100 healthcare providers showed that the 21st-century healthcare consumer is more comfortable with the cloud and mobile technology than ever. They’re making decisions based on how well practices and hospitals are using these digital tools to meet their needs.
As former Vice President Joe Biden stated in a recent article in Forbes, “Patients should not be made to jump through hoops to access and share their own data, the data should automatically be shared with patients (like monthly bank statements), and seamlessly move with patients and be in the hands of their care team in real-time.”
This provides a key opportunity for physicians to differentiate their practices by having items like an easy-to-navigate website, online appointment scheduling, and intuitive patient portals. On average, your potential patients will only give your website 3-5 seconds to gauge key criteria and decide if they should stay or leave. During those few precious seconds, you need to grab attention and get your message across. A few boxes to check off include, Do I feel welcome? Does this seem like a credible organization?, Is this a secure site?, Do I understand where to find key items?
Once a patient feels comfortable and is (hopefully) easily able to sign up for an appointment and complete documents, there are a few other items to consider. While some data like lab reports, visit summaries, and vaccination records are easily displayed in an EHR system or patient portal, medical imaging often remains an enormous challenge to share and receive. Wasting time searching for an old CD, struggling to upload the images, or letting a patient know that their images are inaccessible for any reason is a less than ideal way to start any visit.
This is where providers can streamline processes by staying connected through the cloud to local imaging centers that frequently send to your office so that patient imaging appears directly in your EHR system leading to a seamless appointment. And in those pesky cases where a patient has an old CD, you can offer the ability to upload directly to you through the web ahead of an appointment. After the appointment is over, providing patients with a user-friendly and easy-to-access patient portal is a great way to stay in touch and encourages patients to take control of their own health data and in turn, their health as a whole.
Of course, it’s critical that patients are given a thorough explanation of all test results by a physician before they appear in any kind of patient portal. And while patients should always receive results from a referring physician first, they may also want their radiology reports and even images. too. An easy way we’ve seen leading facilities improve this relationship is by making report language more patient-facing and sharing the name and contact information of the radiologist who read their exam.
Why is it important for patients to have access to their imaging? Waiting for imaging to arrive on CDs should be the last thing a patient needs to worry about when dealing with a serious health condition. If patients can easily access second opinion and clinical trial information online, they should be able to send imaging ahead of time allowing for the most productive conversation possible when they have their consultation.
For healthcare providers, this means investing in your brand and online presence to optimize direct patient contact and offering value-added services such as second opinions. A complete second opinion portal makes it simple for prospective patients to upload medical data, medical images, and associated reports.
For more information on medical image sharing through the cloud or tips and tricks for improving your website, check out our new ebook, Providers Go All In.