How patient portals can be improved with better tailored content

There has been an industry shift to digital and its power to help patients, prompting UPMC to continually enhance the digital experience, including through its MyUPMC Patient Portal and accompanying app.

Pregnancy is a particular time when patients are interested in frequent health updates, and by incorporating a scalable digital health platform to prescribe and automate content during each trimester, UPMC clinicians were able to send videos and educational materials automatically to where it is easiest for the patient – the MyUPMC portal.

"As health care organizations across the country are implementing the directives of the 21st Century Cures Act, our patients are increasingly becoming accustomed to having full fidelity of their health care electronic health information without delay," explained Dr. Glenn Updike, medical director for clinical informatics in the Women's Health Service Line and medical director at MyUPMC.

Dr. Updike, who is scheduled to speak on the topic this Wednesday at HIMSS21, said real time analytics are crucial to making sure that the content delivered to patients is relevant, engaging, and accessed.

"As patient engagement becomes more easily scaled through better digital tools, we do risk oversaturation of our patients," he pointed out. "We need to have a granular understanding of our patients' ability to access digital health tools across a wide range of socioeconomic and health literacy strata. We need to understand completely how patients are engaging in the tools."

He explained if patients are accessing the tools but not truly interacting with the content or there is high drop off, it is an opportunity to better curate the content and serve up better tools that meet the patient's needs.

"Finally, we must remember to not focus on engagement metrics with the digital health tools themselves, but rather remain focused on the quality and clinical outcome measures that our digital tools are designed to support," Dr. Updike said.

He said moving forward, he thinks healthcare organizations are broadening their view of the "patient portal", which is no longer just a patient's window into their electronic health record, but rather a digital front door to their health care.

"Too often, digital services such as remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, wayfinding, and many others exist in silos," he said. "Our challenge masks all of the complexities of these back end technologies to our patients and presents a seamless mobile experience."

He pointed out providers also lead busy lives, as do patients, which means they have to make it clear to their patients that they have new information available and fast track their access to that information.

To that end, push notifications through email, secure text, and badge notifications are a must have.

"The more that these notifications can deeply and directly link the patient to the specific content within the portal that their provider has prescribed the better," he said. "We lose patient engagement when we embed content in corners of the patient portal that are difficult to find."

Dr. Glenn Updike will share some digital patient experience best practices at HIMSS21 in a session titled "Digital Driving Patient Experience in Women's Health." It's scheduled for Wednesday, August 11, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Venetian San Polo 3404.


Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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