Make the Most of Patient-Facing Technology

Patient-facing technologies — or a healthcare practice’s phone system, website and patient portal — offer new and current patients ways to access the practice’s services. The importance of these technologies shouldn’t be underestimated. This article looks at each technology category and explains how practices can ensure that these technologies provide the best possible experiences for their patients.

Make the most of patient-facing technology

Loosely speaking, there are two types of practice infrastructure. The first type is obvious — your office building, examination rooms and even patient workflow. But another type of infrastructure is patient-facing technology, or the technology that your new or current patients first encounter when dealing with your practice. Mostly, this refers to your phone system, website and patient portal. The importance of these technologies shouldn’t be underestimated.

The phone system

Some phone systems can be enormously expensive. But there are plenty of low-cost, highly sophisticated systems, often as part of an outside service. Service is key, because the patient’s ability to call and be immediately transferred to the appropriate professional is enormously important.

Do you know what a patient hears when they call your office? Call in and actually listen to the message. Is it robotic? Is it gloomy or upbeat, cold or welcoming? Is it a reflection of how you want your patients to feel about your practice? The phone system is often the last thing physicians upgrade in their practice, but it’s typically the first thing a patient uses.

The website

Think about how your website looks. Does it make your office appear modern? Does it provide information in a streamlined format? It’s important to:

  • Make sure your website is professional and updated regularly,
  • Use best practices, be clear and easy to use, follow HIPAA regulations and be accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements,
  • Use quality photographs of you and your staff that show you as both competent and approachable, including photos of physicians and staff interacting with potential patients,
  • Be mobile friendly,
  • Make sure essential information is easy to find, and
  • Add online forms to streamline check-ins.

Given the current trends toward telemedicine during the pandemic and going forward, consider having videoconferencing capabilities built into your website if you don’t already have them or, at the very least, promote your practice’s telehealth capabilities.

The patient portal

From the perspective of the healthcare practice, a patient portal has three components:

  1. To advertise for new patients,
  2. To communicate with existing patients and increase engagement, and
  3. To provide information patients need to make healthy changes.

Features vary greatly from one patient portal to another, but may include the ability to:

  • Securely view and print part of the patient’s medical record,
  • Exchange secure email with health care providers and staff,
  • Request prescription refills,
  • Schedule nonurgent appointments,
  • Check patient benefits and coverage,
  • Update patient contact information,
  • Make payments, and
  • Download or complete intake forms.

Perception is everything

Each of these pieces of patient-facing infrastructure should project professionalism. Using these technologies can help you control all aspects of how your practice is perceived and create many potential ways patients can interface with you.

If you have any questions regarding your technology or want to discuss further, please feel free to reach out to our Technology Department at (973) 298-8500.