Team Up! Team-based primary and community care in action

In this episode of TeamUP! Morgan talks about how your team can use a patient portal to engage patients and build capacity in your practice. 

Portals can be as simple as making your website more valuable by promoting your team or as complex as a way for patients to asynchronously engaged with their care team.

Based on request, we are continuing this theme of technology for primary care teams - please send questions to and we will incorporate them into the podcast!

What is Team Up! Team-based primary and community care in action?

A podcast that brings together primary care providers, healthcare planners, patients, innovators and others to talk about the changes that are happening in primary care in British Columbia.

Morgan: Are you wondering how to engage
your patients between visits while

reducing wait times for visits for others?

Yeah, me too.

Now, you might already have a
practice website, and you might have

a more interactive patient portal
as part of your E M R tools too.

Both of these can help improve
access and connection for patients.

They can also make your
life easier as a team.

And save some time as well.

For me, I think about a portal as being
a way for patients to interact with their

team and the practice asynchronously,
which makes it different from telehealth.

And a portal can be really simple.

It can be a static website with
an FAQ and contact information,

and it can also be more than that.

So let's dive in and explore a few
ways in which a patient portal can make

your primary care team more accessible
and help patients feel more connected.

So let's start with an easy one,
helping patients get to know their team.

And you can do this just on a
practice website that's static.

Just put up information
on why you're a team.

And who you are as a team.

And then also put up
information about each person.

It doesn't have to be a lot, something
personal that you're willing to share

some areas of clinical interest.

So I also suggest some quote.

Actual quotes from each
person on the team.

why you like being a care provider.

Something like, as a nurse, I love
seeing young families when it's

time for their regular checkups.

It's a great way to see all the changes
and s and talk as parents about what's

happening and what to expect next.

It's a great place to provide
support to new moms and dads.

Like if I read that as a new
parent, I would love to go see that.

And photos are great too.

, now these can be fun.

You can use a cartoon filter for
everyone if you want, but I suggest

spend a little bit of time and have good
framing and good lighting and have them

consistent so that way it shows through
that consistency that you're a team.

next step up with a patient portal
is that you can start to manage

some simple tasks, more efficient.

And the portal allows for some
back and forth interactivity.

So simple things like appointment
scheduling, helping patients

check status of referrals, and
request prescription renewals.

All of those things can be in
a portal and that will reduce.

Administrative time for sure, and
time for clinical team members

when people come in and ask to
see, say a physician or a nurse.

And then the question is only what's
the status of my referral and the

status is I haven't heard back yet.

And that's, uh, not a very helpful visit.

that's one of those areas
that a portal can really help.

And then through that, primary
care teams can save a lot of time

and they can batch those answers.

If they even need to respond, if
it's not automatically on the portal

the next level up from there is
getting patients to engage with

their own clinical information.

So beyond asking for appointments
or checking status of things, now

they can start to look at things
like their medical record or their

test results and through portal.

That's really very helpful.

Now in, in BC.

We already get labs through a provincial
portal and you can encourage patients to

look there and that can be really helpful
for patients with chronic conditions.

So a patient with diabetes, for example,
can look at their A1C test result.

you've coached them about what that could
mean and what to do next, and they know

if they should book an appointment sooner,
if it's above a certain level or not.

So you can really tailor the practice
based on patients self manag.

Using that data that they
didn't have access to before.

And this can really empower patients
to take control of their health.

And you can also direct
based on, the whole team.

So if it's between this level and this
level, see a nurse, if it's surprisingly

high, come and see me quickly.

and, and let my staff know
that it's surprisingly high.

Those sorts of things really then change
the way the whole team can triage and get

to see the right person at the right time.

next and beyond that is not
just information or data.

Now we're gonna talk about
communicating with the team.

And this is a different workflow
for a team, but I think it's

a, a step going forward where
a portal can be really helpful.

You know, the FAQ can
answer common questions.

That is a bit more static.

But if you can start to do two-way
communication through secure messaging,

that can provide a lot of extra capacity
and does so in it a couple different ways.

first off, When people message,
and as long as the expectations

are set, they know that not to
put anything critical in there.

And the timing is gonna
be not quite real time.

First off, you can batch the
responses so you can look at them

over a block and respond to a bunch
of them all at once, back to back.

But also you can share that
responsibility across the team.

And because these are typically.

They're meant to be less urgent than,
you know, a number of people across

the team can start to review this.

It does not have to be the family doctor
or the nurse practitioner who reviews all

the messages, so that spreads that demand
and builds the capacity across the team.

It then also has the benefit of
in reducing some of the unneeded

face-to-face visits because they get
dealt with through the portal, and that

saves time for both the providers on
the team and the patients, which is.

So there you go.

There's a few ideas of how to use a a
portal, and depending on where you're

at, there's a couple things you could
do as sort of a next action you could

think about if you're a coach, talking
with a practice and seeing where

they're at, and maybe adding a little
bit of information to their website.

If they do have a scheduling portal,
you know, encouraging patients

to use that, having a campaign
to use our online booking tools,

those things will be helpful just
to build capacity and as a team.

Talk about where you spend a lot
of time, what phone calls, what

questions, keep coming up for your
MOAs, for the nurses, for the doctors,

for the nurse practitioners, for the
whole team, and start to put up the

common ones with the same answers up
on your website, up in the portal.

And that'll be an easy way to
start to answer those questions.

And then remember to direct people.

Don't forget, we do have an
FAQ for things like this.

you'll see it starts to . Speed
up the process quite a bit.

And if you're more advanced, then
think of one of those other topics,

, other ways of engaging patients,
more interactively through a portal.

​thanks for tuning into
this episode of Team Up.

I was gonna wrap up this mini season
on technology for primary care teams

here, but we've actually had a few
requests for some other topics and

episodes, so I'm gonna keep going and
adding in a few more topics Until our

next episode, keep working together and
building a stronger primary care system.