About this playbook
The Patient Engagement Playbook is a tool for health care providers, practice staff, hospital administrators and others who want to leverage health IT — starting with electronic health record (EHR) patient portals — to engage patients in their health and care.
Why the focus on patient engagement? Because engaged patients have the knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage their health and care and act on providers’ recommendations. Practices that invest in patient engagement can expect returns in the form of better outcomes and lower costs.
Health care practices across the country are already seeing the benefits of EHR patient portal implementation on patient engagement and beyond. The rewards are real: more informed, involved patients; effective delivery of care; and reduced burden on office staff. And so are the barriers: cumbersome enrollment; clunky interfaces; reluctant patients and office staff; and questions of privacy and security.
Use this playbook to help you:
- Facilitate easy enrollment to achieve greater portal adoption
- Meet patient needs online — while also streamlining practice workflow
- Involve caregivers in an appropriate way
- Integrate patient-generated health data to improve clinical decision-making and care
In this playbook, we’ll demystify patient portals and describe how you can make them work for you and your patients.
It will take years to address all of the pain points, but transformation is under way. We’ve compiled best practices and home-grown solutions from innovative providers and health systems around the country.
We’ve also told their stories in “From the field” examples scattered throughout the Playbook. The highlighted organizations stand out as pioneers — they’ve piloted unique programs that leverage health IT, shown how using health IT strategically can produce results, and earned national attention from the press and fellow industry leaders.
Each example sheds light on what it means to put the Playbook into practice. There’s much to learn from analyzing these bright spots and scaling their success. Even a few small changes in your practice and patient portal implementation can lead to meaningful improvements in portal adoption, care delivery, and health outcomes.
Every day, providers and practices embrace new technologies, discover ways to improve care, and find opportunities for meaningful patient connection. As health IT and health care delivery evolve, the Playbook will evolve too. Over time, we’ll update the Playbook to include a broader range of tried-and-true strategies for involving patients in their health and care.
Why a playbook?
Playbooks aren’t static instruction manuals — they’re always-evolving sets of strategies and approaches. Good coaches update their playbooks constantly, and each iteration reflects new, innovative solutions to shifting circumstances.
Use this playbook in a way that works for you and your practice. For example, you may want to:
- Follow “A Guide to Using the Playbook” to understand your role in portal adoption — and encourage everyone in your practice to do the same
- Review patient portal benefits with office staff, so they can share them with patients
- Focus on 1 chapter at a time — discuss lessons during team meetings, apply best practices in the workplace, and have ongoing conversations about what works and what can be improved
- Use Playbook language on your website or Facebook page to let patients know how they can use the patient portal to participate in their care
We see this as version 1.0 — just a first step in our mission to help clinicians and their patients adopt and adapt to patient portals and patient-generated health data. We want to learn more about your experiences and hear your suggestions. Tell us what’s working and what isn’t. A good playbook is never completed — it just keeps getting better.
About patient portals
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched Meaningful Use objectives to encourage providers and practices to use EHR technology effectively — to improve patient care and outcomes.1,2 For office-based Medicare providers, Meaningful Use will soon be replaced by Advancing Care Information under the proposed Quality Payment Program.
Providers and practices must meet Meaningful Use objectives to qualify for CMS’s EHR Incentive Programs and the upcoming Quality Payment Program. For example, Meaningful Use sets goals for providers and practices to:
- Enable patients to view online, download, and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available
- Exchange secure messages with more than 5% of patients
- Provide clinical summaries to patients or caregivers within 1 business day for more than half of office visits
In addition to financial incentives, portals can add up to big benefits in patient care. For patients with chronic diseases, engagement in patient portals has been associated with improvements in disease management.3 Portals can also improve preventive care. Patients with portal access to screening recommendations — like when to get their next mammogram or colonoscopy — are more likely to follow through on these recommendations.4
Ultimately, patient portals can contribute to:
- Reduced call volume
- Improved responsiveness to patients’ needs
- Lower utilization of health services
- More effective care
- Cost savings5
Patient portals hold enormous potential to improve patient care and practice workflow. We’ve created this playbook to help you realize it — and build an effective digital strategy for patient engagement.
Terms to know
Use this glossary, adapted from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment, to help establish a common language with all stakeholders.
Electronic health record (EHR). An EHR — also known as an electronic medical record or EMR — is an electronic system that health care providers use to document patients’ medical and health information. A patient’s EHR may include demographic data, progress notes, medications, vital signs, medical history, immunizations, lab results, and radiology reports. Patients don’t access their own EHR.
Patient Portal. A patient portal is a secure website where patients can access their medical history and other health information. Using the portal, patients can typically complete forms online, communicate with providers, request prescription refills, pay bills, review lab results, and schedule appointments.
Help us improve the Playbook
Best practices start with providers and administrators like you. Have you successfully boosted portal adoption in your practice? Do you have a promising product solution?
As you discover new ways to navigate patient portals, EHRs, and other health IT solutions, let us know. We’ll be updating the Playbook with the next iteration of patient engagement strategies.
References or links in this website to any specific non-federal entity, commercial product, process, service or company do not constitute their endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or HHS. HHS is not responsible for the contents of any “off-site” website linked to in this website, nor is HHS responsible for such other website’s compliance with Section 508 (accessibility).
Content last updated on: May 31, 2017