Physicians who want to grow and optimize their practices must learn how to better engage their current patient population. Actively engaged patients know more about their personal health and are more likely to follow their doctors’ orders.

In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins University reported that the U.S. health care system could potentially save between $100 and $300 billion dollars per year simply by improving medication adherence – another goal of patient engagement practices.

The ability and freedom to access one’s own medical records improves patient engagement on several levels, including medication adherence and reducing the rate of missed appointments. However, many Americans still lack basic access to their health records.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, only 63 percent of physicians offered their patients electronic access to medical records in 2015.

Engagement begins with easy access to medical records

For most physicians, the No. 1 goal is to provide the best possible care to each and every patient. To improve patient outcomes, physicians must have a support system that helps them engage with patients at the office, as well as at home.

“Improved patient engagement leads to better care outcomes.”

The ability to view one’s own medical record is just the beginning. An electronic platform that also allows for easy communication between patients and physicians can help doctors identify symptoms earlier and begin treatment as soon as possible.

Now that the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) has more closely tied patient outcomes to reimbursements, it’s more important than ever for doctors to look for ways to improve patient care. That starts by empowering patients through tailored health information technology.

Under the Quality Payment Program, practices could see financial incentives for upgrading their patient engagement options. The Advancing Care Information category includes several measures that aim to give patients easier access to their health records. For example, the “Provide Patient Access” measure could add up to 10 percent weight to a provider’s overall MIPS performance score – which directly impacts reimbursement adjustments under MACRA.

Patients want access to their health data

Taking measures to improve communication with patients can lead to better care outcomes. But if that isn’t enough to convince physicians to provide electronic access to medical records, this should be: Patients overwhelmingly want access.

According to a Fast Company Magazine poll, 77 percent of people surveyed said that they would like immediate access to their personal health record. The source reported that patients with electronic access to their records said they had a better understanding of their treatment plan.

What’s more, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that physicians provide patients access to their records. Although HIPAA allows for paper copies in lieu of an electronic format, it’s clear that digital access is friendlier to modern, always-connected patients.

Intuitive technology can improve patient engagement

Today, patient engagement must have an electronic component. Tailored technology can help physicians communicate important health information to their patients.

Merely providing digital access to patient records may not be enough, however. Physicians should talk with their patients about when and how to view and use their personal medical records. Combining a record viewing portal with a secure messaging platform is one way to add an interactive component to your technology suite.

By creating positive experiences before, during and after the visit, patients will not only be happy with the services they received, but may also be more willing to refer their friends and family to the practice.

Learn more about how Tangible Solutions can help you improve patient engagement at your practice, including pre-visit, post-visit, financial and marketing engagement.