In this episode, Dr. Hayes discusses how eClinicalWorks Patient Portal and healow offer a direct line of communication between providers and patients, improving the patient experience. By receiving a patient’s questions directly in the patient in the portal, Dr. Hayes avoids miscommunication and answers with exactly the information she would like the patient to know.
“I love the portal, more importantly, my medical assistant loves the portal. I can see and respond to messages without interrupting patient flow. It takes about 30 seconds to explain patient portal and healow at the end of an appointment. I explain to patients, by utilizing the portal they can communicate with us 24/7.”
Dr. Amy Hayes – Provider, Carson Medical Group
Practices love offering online engagement tools such as the healow app, and Carson Medical was pleasantly surprised to learn that patients ages 55 to 70 – who generally have more health concerns and questions – are the most highly engaged with online tools. In order to get younger patients similarly engaged, they are now emphasizing how easy and fun healow is to use in a space every young person likes to occupy – their smartphone!
Excessive wait times? Difficulty accessing lab results and messages? Not at Carson Medical, where providers and office staff are fully engaged in using eClinicalWorks’ Patient Portal. By gently moving their patients to secure, online communications, Carson Medical has reduced phone calls, hold times, and waiting for lab results. One customer who kept calling to ask about Patient Portal finally came into the office to meet staff – an example of how technology helps build stronger relationships with patients.
With the free healow Mom app, practices can enhance their patient engagement, with online booking, appointment reminders, and secure messaging. The app offers age-appropriate education from birth through age 12, access to children’s Patient Portal records, and trackers and tools to keep track of developmental milestones – anytime, anywhere, from any device.
Brian: Hi, welcome back to eCW Podcast, I’m Brian Saal. Today we’re in Carson City, Nevada at Carson Medical Group, with Dr. Amy Hayes. Thank you for being with us today, doctor.
Dr. Hayes: You’re welcome.
Brian: Today, I was hoping to talk to you a little bit about the Patient Portal and your adoption of it here at Carson Medical Group. From what I’m led to understand, you’re one of the top providers who have been – I don’t want to say web-enabled people – but who have brought patients onto the Portal. What’s your experience been like with it?
Dr. Hayes: Well I love the Portal. And, more importantly, my medical assistant loves the Portal and that is a big part of how I sell it. I explain to patients that by utilizing the Portal, they can communicate with us 24/7, they never have to talk to the girls up front – as much as I love my front-office people, they should be doing other things rather than taking phone calls. So people can send me messages, I can see those messages and respond to them, without interrupting my patient flow, and without playing phone tag with patients. So, it takes me about 30 seconds at the end of every visit, to discuss the Portal with my patients – if they’re logged on and they don’t know their password, I reset, then print out their password for it, hand it to them and explain to them how easy the healow app is to use, because then I pull out my phone if they look dubious and show it to them and say “Look; – don’t look at the picture but here’s how to use it.” Especially with my OB patients, we are talking to them frequently about lab results and information, so almost all of my obstetrical patients are on the portal, that’s just an expectation. But even when my regular GYN patients and surgical patients, it’s nice to be able to have interactions without having to go through the hassle of calling the service or calling the front office and then playing phone tag. I know I sound like I’m repetitive about that, but it’s a pet peeve; trying to make phone calls and missing people, leaving voice messages, then they leave me a message…
Brian: There’s only so much time in the day, and you want to utilize it as best you can. Was it easy for you to adopt it? To being using it? Did you have difficulty getting patients to go on board?
Dr. Hayes: There was a little pushback at first, people were a little worried that it wasn’t secure, and there were several people who thought it would be difficult. Once I was able to show them the healow app, then they don’t have to remember their login and their password. And I think the fact that I tell people I use it and I hand them the piece of paper and say “This is really important and this allows you to have a direct line to my assistant and me,” is useful.
Brian: Right, and there really is a direct connection between, without having to go through a middle person, as you said, one of the front-office people. So I can see how that could definitely increase communications. If you were able to speak to another provider who’s not using the Portal, what would you tell them? How would you try and convince them to use it? I know that you’ve just said all the wonderful things that it’s helped you with, but is there anything else you would tell another provider?
Dr. Hayes: One of the first things I liked about the Portal, and that mode of communication was I could see directly what the patient’s question was. And then I could read, before I hit send, what I’m sending back to them. So there’s no confusion whether we misunderstand each other in the telephone game, or whether they don’t hear what I’m saying. They’re getting a written transcript of what I was I want to see. It also allows me to proofread!
Brian: Well, no that’s a very good point because anytime you’re on the phone with anybody it’s very easy to misunderstand, particularly when you’re nervous talking to your provider, “Ah, I could have sworn she said take three of these, but now I’m looking at the Portal and it says take one, glad I looked at that.” I can see how that would clear up some problems with communication. So, you’re comfortable with the portal now, moving forward, what would you like to see the Portal be able to do for you?
Dr. Hayes: Well, I’m excited about healow Mom coming up, although I haven’t gotten a chance to utilize it yet. I think that would be a huge improvement for our obstetrical patients. I think having the app has made it a lot easier for people to log on, and so, whatever we can do to make that interface easier for patients, I’m looking forward to hopefully getting our patients onto the Portal, while they’re here in the office, in the near future, hopefully with our group, and I think the more people that are able to use this – not only for messaging but for looking at their results – I tell all of my parents that they can get their kid’s immunization records, which is huge, I mean that’s going to log all those pediatric patients on just so they don’t have to call the office and swing by and get a copy. There are so many little utilities like that; I have my patients use it for tracking their different blood sugars, vitals, blood pressures at home, waits, you know, there’s so many new things, I think, will be coming, from the preview we got at the National Conference.
Brian: Yeah, the trackers like Fitbit and things like that, which are being very nicely integrated into the system – it can give real-time data to you, along with, as you mentioned, blood pressure, we’re automating that for certain types of cuffs and so forth. So that’s definitely coming your way in the very near future.
Dr. Hayes: More ways I can convince people to utilize it, will keep them from having to call the girls up front. I really like my front girls but they just get inundated with phone calls.
Brian: Sure, sure. And, as I said earlier, there’s only so much time in the day, and you have to utilize it as best you can. Thank you again for being with us, Dr. Amy Hayes of the Carson Medical Group, here in Carson City, Nevada. I’m Brian Saal for the eCW Podcast, if you’re interested in an additional eCW Podcast, please check us out at my.eclinicalworks.com, YouTube and on iTunes. Thanks again for being with us, take care.