A common concern expressed by patients is the communication of test results. Many medical practices have turned to patient portals to alleviate these concerns. Patient portals are now responsible for communicating with many of the 1-2 million patients being tested for COVID-19 every day in the US. The patient portal can be a great tool when it is used with the patients’ best interests in mind.
Using our comment analysis tools, we identified the most common concerns expressed by patients in regards to portal test results. Here are the biggest challenges and best practices to maximize the benefits of communicating test results to patients.
Patients don’t know how to use the portal
Your patients may not know how to access or log into your patient portal, or they may not know how to navigate it to find their test results. At the time of the visit, it’s important to provide the patient with clear, detailed instructions for accessing and using the portal.
If feasible, consider inviting the patient to set up their portal account during their visit so you can assist with any questions that arise. Offering instruction cards or flyers might aid in suggesting portal account setup to your patients.
Expectations are not met
It’s important to set and meet expectations when it comes to communicating test results via the patient portal.
First, ensure your patient knows their test results will be uploaded to the portal. If the patient assumes they will be receiving a phone call, they may not think to check online.
Next, give the patient a realistic timeframe for uploading their results. A common complaint from patients in regards to online test results is that they are not uploaded as promptly as they had expected. A recent survey found that viewing test results is among the top reasons patients utilize the portal in the first place. When the patient doesn’t see their test results online within an expected timeframe, this could lower their confidence in the reliability of the patient portal.
Finally, be consistent when uploading test results to the portal. If the patient finds their test results on the portal in some instances and not others, they may discontinue use of the portal for this purpose altogether.
The portal is your only method of communication
The portal is a great tool for communicating test results in a more timely manner. It is possible the patient will need help interpreting the results or will have questions about next steps and treatment. It’s important to follow up with the patient verbally or to provide clear next steps and information about who they can reach out to with questions.
If you are communicating test results via a portal, take the time to understand what is working and what isn’t. Run a report with the SurveyVitals Report Builder in your client portal and search the comments for terms such as ‘portal’ or ‘test results’ to gather key patient insights. You can also add addendum questions to your surveys for further insights; reach out to your Client Success Manager for more information.
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