Top tips for successful patient portal secure messaging

Patient portal secure messaging offers patients the means to communicate with their doctors privately without having to meet with them in person. Patients have the opportunity to request for medical advice, appointments, or even get renewals for their prescriptions without having to visit the clinic or the hospital. Here are some tips to make your patient portal secure messaging more successful and patient-friendly.

1) Establish boundaries for message content

Just because clinicians have the opportunity to interact with their patients via healthcare messaging app does not mean that their manner of interaction changes. Clinicians are still expected to be sensitive and empathetic in their communications with patients. Often, the kind of content that is delivered to the patient from the clinician is at the clinician’s discretion. However, this poses the risk of the clinician communicating sensitive information such as test results or negative news about the health of the patient via the portal. Though this is an acceptable method, it is important that the clinician and the patient discuss in advance whether this method suits the patient or not. Certain patients might be comfortable with receiving negative news via the portal, and some might not. Face-to-face interaction while delivering such news is important as it allows the patient to gauge the intensity of the problem and ask the clinician queries that may immediately flood their mind. Speaking with the clinician directly also allows the patients to plan their treatment better and with immediate action. Thus, it is important that patients and their clinicians devise guidelines as to what information can be communicated via the portal and what needs to be communicated face-to-face.

2) Set specific times for answering queries

It is humanely impossible for clinicians and medical staff to respond to patient queries as soon as they are received through the portal. In the event that the clinician does not respond within the patient’s expected response time, there is a possibility that the patient may get impatient and annoyed with the clinician. Thus, it is important that clinicians speak with their patients to create a demarcation between queries that require instant response and those that don’t. For example, a question regarding medication updates is most likely not urgent, and can thus wait in the clinician’s inbox until they respond to it. Deciding on a schedule for responding will also allow the clinician to organize their work better since there is now a clear period of time for them to respond to all queries at one go. Allotting a specific time for receiving answers to their queries can also help patients manage their expectations for communication from the clinician, reducing the pressure on the clinician as well as reducing stress on the patient’s side.

3) Have designated tech support

It is essential that every clinic or hospital assign specific people for tech support in the event that the portal suffers from technical glitches. Patients are more likely to get dissuaded from using a portal if they come across technical snags often. The more technical issues that the portal faces, the lesser patients are likely to trust this means of communication as a secure and safe channel to communicate with their clinician. This will also help the medical staff operate the portal better, and will ease communication with the vendors of the software whenever needed.