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How a rural health system enrolled one-third of its patients in a portal

During our annual Population Health University user group meeting, Holzer Health System Director of Communications Kevin Waller shared how his organization is successfully engaging patients with Allscripts FollowMyHealth®, tripling enrollment to more than 12,000 patients within one year.

Holzer Health System (Gallipolis, Ohio, U.S.A.) is a multi-disciplinary healthcare system, with 15 ambulatory locations throughout southern Ohio and western West Virginia, and two hospitals with 287 beds.

When asked what in particular made Holzer so successful in the quest to achieve effective patient engagement, Waller outlined three key strategies:

1) Define the portal

Waller and his team recognized early on that people didn’t understand what FollowMyHealth was. Inspired by a marketing campaign of a home improvement store, Waller suggested changing the name of the portal to “”

Holzer Health System refined its message, making it easier for patients to see what the portal could do for them. Waller’s elevator speech hits three main portal benefits for patients: a) Message your doctor, b) Renew your prescriptions, and c) Schedule appointments.

2) Be proactive. (Marketing, Marketing, Marketing)

“The portal is not the ‘If you build it, they will come’ model,” Waller said. Holzer used several proactive marketing tactics to enroll patients in the portal, including:

Use the call center. Holzer employs a phone center that receives 100,000 calls every month from patients. Holzer provided a script about signing up for the portal, which quickly increased adoption rates.

Operationalize sign-ups in the office. Holzer involved physicians, nurses and administrative staff in its effort to enroll patients. By involving everyone, it increases the number of opportunities for patients to sign up.

Grab attention. Waller credits the Holzer marketing team with coming up with innovative ways to interest patients in the portal, including new designs for brochures and using iPads as raffle prizes for signing up.

3) Meaningful Use

Waller acknowledges that Meaningful Use requirements are what started Holzer’s progress with a patient portal. The organization makes it clear for providers how many patients they need each day to enroll in the portal, making the goals more manageable.

“Stage 1 was easy, but Stage 2 is much harder,” Waller said. “Some patients have never had a portal before, and this is one example of what Meaningful Use is all about. It’s important to remember we’re doing all of this to help patients.”

To learn more about patient engagement, visit our website.

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