Patient Engagement Journey and ways to improve it
(A Doctor’s guide)
Are you looking for ways to boost your medical practice revenue? Looking to keep patients around, grow your practice and improve quality of care?
Consider, informed decision making, patient empowerment, and satisfaction as the next major goals for your practice.
Patients today expect continuous support and guidance at each step of their healthcare journey. They are more inclined towards maintaining their own health and improved communication with providers. Therefore moving your focus towards patient engagement will not only help achieve patient satisfaction but will also improve financial and operational efficiency.
Here are some insights on the ways that can help you get started with patient engagement.
Research shows that the following are the common problems faced by various healthcare practices:
- Patient and their families want that the information is conveyed in a way the patient can understand.
- They want to be fully informed on all aspects of their condition and care.
- Many of them need online access to their personal health records and access to patient portals
- Many are also looking for an easy way to view bills and reminders for appointments
- Some are looking to communicate with mobile apps
Taking the above data into consideration, there is a need that you must make patient engagement a top priority to build a strong and effective business.
Let this guide walk you through the steps to understand and achieve true “patient engagement”. To start, let’s first understand what patient engagement truly means
What is Patient Engagement
Patient engagement refers to an ideal healthcare situation in which patients are well informed about and motivated to be involved in their own medical care. It is everything, right from the early education and awareness stage to physician interaction to appointment follow up.
It consists of 6 stages :
- Performing research on Symptoms: This includes self-assessment of conditions and symptoms, leading to online research and education, posting questions on social media, etc
- Appointment – First point of contact for Help
This includes patient’s initial contact with health system via call center, email, mobile, etc. (i.e., Whom shall I contact? Where can I find it? How can I ask a proper question?)
- Diagnosis: Assessment of Health Condition
It means when a patient visits a medical facility to assess his health condition (physician’s office, hospital, etc.)
This includes on-site and follow-up care (medications, physical therapy, etc.)
- Behavioural/ Lifestyle Change
This refers to lifestyle change incorporated by the patient to reduce readmissions and promote proactive health. Patients take account of their own health such as dietary changes, exercise, taking medicines on time.
- Ongoing Care/ Proactive Health
This refers to ongoing care management between patient visits, fostering engagement between the patient & physician and enabling the patient to better manage his/her own care
Ways to Improve Patient Engagement Journey:
Below are some of the effective ways you can consider to improve patient engagement journey:
- Make appointment scheduling easily accessible
You can use free online scheduling solution software and apps that will empower patients to book and reschedule appointments. You can also host appointment scheduling function in your EHR/EMR and send automated reminders reducing no-shows via SMS or mobile apps, you also have an option to send outreach emails that enable patients to book an appointment with a click of a button.
- Use Medication-management apps
Give your patients the power to control their health through a mobile app. Help them keep a track record of their health summary as well as their family, their test results by using the existing free medical-management apps or use those available in their EMR/EPM.
Allow to securely and privately talk with their healthcare provider, include functionality to help manage their prescription renewal and update their insurance policies from their smartphones
- Patient Education
Patient education is the practice of informing patients about their health, wellness, treatment plans, potential outcomes, and other information critical to the patient experience.
Patient education can be done by following ways:
- Prepare free teaching tools organized by each clinical topic and upload either to the patient portal or on the website and provide access to patients to help find best possible treatment and gain real knowledge. There also online libraries such as ‘iHealthSpot’, ‘Krames online’, that includes a library of award-winning patient education related to your specialty. You can license the library for a small setup fee or monthly licensing fee and make it available on their websites.
- You can use one of the following teaching tools such as Brochures or other printed materials, Podcasts, YouTube videos, Videos or DVDs, PowerPoint presentations, Posters or charts, Models or props, Group classes, Trained peer educators.
- You can also send daily newsletters on the patient portal for the patient to be updated with his healthcare.
- Patient Portal
A Patient portal is an online website that is connected to the EHR (Electronic health record) centrally focused on patient access to health data. These tools will help give patients a look at various data points, including lab results, physician notes, their health hist, discharge summaries, and immunizations.
Most of your EMRs/EPMs already include a patient portal.. Use them.. Patient portals typically include functionalities such as :
- Appointment Scheduling
- Viewing health information
- Bill pay/view
- Prescription follow-up
- Filling out pre-visit forms
- Medical history update
5. Personalizing Interactions
You can provide a personalized interaction message once the patient leaves from your facility. For example, you can provide a free 5-day consultation through messaging, in case patient feels any discomfort for the treatment given to him or in case he faces any difficulty. Gentle reminders a couple of hours before can also help the patient to reach on time.
- Social media.
Social networks provide a fresh way for you to connect with your patients and offer personalized interactions in a place they already frequent. You can also use social media to share informational health articles and educate patients on popular issues.
- Making use of your Electronic Health Record Software (EHR)
Brings immediate benefits, since computerization of records makes them infinitely easier to manage than old-fashioned, paper-based systems. Your EHR allows you to analyze the data for all your patients, so you can identify patients that require preventative appointments or follow-up care, noted a report from Health Catalyst.
Telemedicine has added an entirely new layer of patient engagement. By providing healthcare via video conferencing allows patients to interact with physicians at a distance.
Using telecommunication technology, physicians can perform remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by connecting over their smartphone, iPad or any device.
Telemedicine is a great way to deliver care in rural areas by providing anytime care and avoiding to travel long distances to meet the physician.
How Patient Engagement provides value?
- Patients who access their health data via a patient portal tend to be better informed about their own healthcare and up-to-date on their current treatments and medications.
- Use of patient portals, mHealth apps, telemedicine will help patients to get value-based and convenient care which will help to keep your patients happy and return to your service again. They will also refer new patients to your practice
- Patient engagement will also help increase patient satisfaction, decrease provider time at work, increase employee satisfaction
- Patients who are truly engaged in their own self-care go beyond regular, consistent habits and continue their behavior over extended periods of time. In other words, how long patients remain engaged matters.
- It also helps in faster recovery as patients take responsibility, take necessary precautions and be a part of their own health recovery.
- Increased knowledge and understanding among patients encourages them to become actively engaged in their own health, well-being, and healthcare choices, leading to improved care.
- Physicians are better able to treat patients in the most effective way possible, ultimately becoming more time and cost efficient.
- By collaborating and engaging with patients in the decision-making process, healthcare providers can make better decisions regarding a patient’s health.
- In addition to improving care, patient engagement also has financial benefits as it reduces no-shows, aids in increasing revenue, and maintain your patient base.
Engaged patients will lead to improved healthcare outcomes while lowering costs and also help create healthier relationships with your patients. Engaged patients will be more involved than other patients in activities such as: Searching for appropriate healthcare, communicating with doctors and other providers, being informed about their health, actively promoting their own good health using preventive care, making informed treatment decisions, organizing their care and participating more actively in their treatment.