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Health IT Success Stories

Dr. Maselli Leverages Health IT to Increase Patient Engagement

Our patient portal has transformed the way we engage patients.' – Dr. Frank Maselli

Dr. Frank Maselli is a board-certified family practitioner and senior partner at Riverdale Family Practice, in the Bronx, New York. Dr. Maselli founded his eight-physician practice twenty-six years ago with co-founder Dr. Carl Franzetti. Over the last several years, Dr. Maselli and his colleagues have developed a strong patient engagement model, in which electronic health records (EHRs) and Health IT are an integral part of the patient experience.

Engaging a Diverse Patient Population

Engaging Patients: Lessons Learned

Practice communication and education are critical components of making patient engagement successful. “An educated staff is more engaged, finds work more enjoyable, and feels they are part of the team when they see the results directly,” he says.

Equally important to continued progress is celebrating success. “After implementation of the patient portal, we marked milestones after web-enabling one thousand, two thousand, and then three thousand patients,” Dr. Maselli recalls.

The practice overcame its first hurdle in EHR adoption after switching from an older EHR system to a different EHR system. New York City Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health (NYC REACH), the practice’s local Regional Extension Center, recommended Dr. Maselli adopt a new EHR system because of its potential to transform how Dr. Maselli and his colleagues engaged patients and delivered health care. After the system upgrade, the practice was in a position to increase patient engagement.

With the help of their EHR vendor and NYC REACH, Dr. Maselli and his colleagues established a patient portal to more effectively engage their patients. However, the practice initially struggled to engrain the new culture in the minds of its staff members. To encourage its staff members to consistently recruit patients to sign up for the patient portal, the practice required all of its staff members to collect email addresses whenever possible. The practice “made it standard practice that whenever a staff member drew a patient’s blood, they had to ask for an email address,” Dr. Maselli said.

Patient Portal Improves Patient Engagement

The strategy worked, and now the practice has more than ten thousand patients using the patient portal. Since implementing the patient portal, Riverdale Family Practice has improved patient engagement in several ways. Patients can use the portal to easily contact their physicians with health questions via secure email, helping to improve provider-patient communication. Patients can also quickly and conveniently pay bills, ask for prescription refills, and make referral requests online, enabling patients to manage their healthcare like never before.

Furthermore, the practice is now disseminating health education materials and patient reminders electronically. Portal-generated patient reminder messages have helped patients remember to schedule mammograms; colonoscopies; and follow-up care for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. These reminders, which are emailed through the practice’s patient portal, are helping Riverdale Family Practice engage its patients in their health and health care.

All of these patient engagement activities help to keep Riverdale Family Practice’s patients informed about their health and health care. With more access to physicians, educational materials, and their own health information, patients are able to actively manage and improve their health care.