Why is patient engagement so important?
The higher the patient engagement, the better the healthcare outcome. Engagement benefits the patient experience, which improves the value of a service. In a modern fee-for-value (vs. fee-for-service) healthcare world, patient engagement is key to a successful practice.
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Patient engagement refers to the patient’s active role in the healthcare journey. Although patients might be unaware of their influence or too intimidated to participate, they hold agency and power in their journey towards wellness. As medical professionals, we can create an atmosphere that encourages patient engagement. We can create an environment where patients and staff collaborate to produce the best results.
Patients can take control and become active in their healthcare by engaging with medical professionals and personal data. To open the lines of communication between patient and staff, ensure that your practice preaches the following qualities.
Invite patient engagement with a personable atmosphere. The most effective engagement initiative requires that clinicians spend more time with patients; therefore, quality time could lead to higher patient engagement. Quality time offers opportunities for communication. Where technological difficulties could stand in the way of questions, comments, and concerns, face-to-face interaction provides a solid foundation for engagement. With conversation and physical cues of care, ‘the human’ emerges from the white coat–patients may be less intimidated and more likely to interact. What can you do to make time with your patients more personable?
Not only should medical staff be personable, but so should your information. Developed with an understanding of various learning styles and literacy rates, this information should be easy to read, relevant, and unbiased. Patients should want to read it. Personable information is designed for the ease of the patient, with consideration of cognitive triggers, motivations, and a general understanding of how the brain works.
Information should not incite worry or anxiety; instead, it should normalize common concerns. Offer information that will encourage change within people; personable information holds the power to instill confidence in patients and inspire their role towards wellness.
Are medical professionals and records accessible? Opportunities for engagement lie within every patient at every stage of life. Healthcare is a journey, not a problem-solution.To increase opportunities for engagement, and work towards equity, consider people outside the hospital walls; pave an accessible path for marginalized groups. Consider variables such as race, ethnicity, sex, orientation, language, immigration status, income, geographic disparity. By driving health equity with patient engagement, you open doors to a plethora of people. The pay-for-service model offers a different payment system that neglects these variables. In the modern pay-for-value model, we can reform the system in consideration and inclusion of all voices within our communities.
Inspire people to take action in wellness at every stage of life. Engagement can happen before, during, and after an appointment. There doesn’t have to be ‘something wrong’ for patients to engage. Patients can communicate with professionals on topics like healthy lifestyles, general wellness, and preventative care. Encourage engagement with surveys across multiple platforms– telephone, paper, website, email marketing. Inviting feedback encourages participation– it provides a platform for interaction and communication. These strategies will multiply opportunities for engagement.
3. Integrative Technology
If your patients have questions, comments, or concerns, do they know where to go? Open lines the of communication through technology. Provide information on how to use technology resources. Effective technology can be used inside and outside the facility. These platforms should be available on multiple platforms such as phones, tablets, desktops, kiosks, and portals. Multimedia will engage various learning styles–videos, photos, charts, podcasts, and textual explanations will provide understanding to a broader range of people. Healthcare portals are an essential area for engagement; patients come here to engage. Primarily, your portal should connect with EHR (Electronic Health Records). Ensure patients can easily sign-up and log-in, send secure messages to a physician and work mobile friendly. On a minimum basis, patients expect to pay bills, schedule appointments and view records through portals. Today, there are too many portals and not enough confluence–causing a major headache and roadblock to engagement for patients.
4. Social Media
Social media can play a pivotal role in patient engagement. When patients interact with healthcare social media, we have the opportunity to increase health literacy–the process by which patients obtain, process, and understand data to aid in decision-making. Social media could make patients healthier. We can also direct patients to appropriate patient portals, facilitating flows of engagement. We can break down barriers to health literacy. Social media can open up channels of communication between physician and patient. As mentioned, the conversation will happen with quality time in the office. But when the door shuts, talk dissipates. The patient might have forgotten that last question.
According to the Joint Commission, communication breakdowns are a high-ranking cause of medical malpractice. Engagement could heal this. Although social media isn’t the most secure platform for engagement, it can be used to encourage patients to ask questions. Break down walls of intimidation that hinder patient participation. Healthcare takes a community; social media can be used to build community and extend relationship offers outside the community.
Accountability can fuel patient engagement. A reliable service will build strong relationships and keep patients interacting. Ensure that designated staff are responding in an appropriate and timely manner, and that action is taken when necessary. Any information passed to the patient should be backed by multiple studies and data sets. Look at leading healthcare industries–how do they engage with patients?Measure your service’s impact on multiple levels from various perspectives; track when, for how long, and why patients are interacting with your platforms.
To fuel engagement, research where you are at currently with patient involvement–tracking when and how long the patient interacts with engagement platforms. Use to statistics to determine where your website/portal might be confusing and take action accordingly.
These elements invite patient participation and encourage engagement. Use them to create an atmosphere that empowers the patient to take agency in his/her healthcare journey. As society turns from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, patient engagement becomes essential to not only a successful practice but healthcare equity. How do you empower your patients?