In an era where patient responsibility and choice have become increasingly important, healthcare providers are looking for new ways to improve patient engagement. In this way, patients may feel better cared for and more satisfied with the treatment they currently receive. At the same time, opening up new channels of communication and working with patients is also a means to promote proactive behavior and preventative care.
Patient engagement, therefore, is a valuable effort because it may be possible to retain patients and become a more attractive provider to new ones. The right initiative could also have an impact on the number of repeat procedures at a given practice and make treating chronic diseases more comprehensive.
For anyone interested in improving patient engagement, here are a few tips for getting started.
Develop a plan
According to Seamless MD, well-reasoned framework must exist to ensure your patient engagement initiative is successful. Bring in senior administrators and doctors and hold an open discussion as to what engagement means for physicians and doctors. Consider what other members of your team, such as nurses or front desk staff, may be helpful in creating such a program.
“Identify what resources you have at your disposal.”
Identify what resources you have at your disposal and breakdown daily workflows to highlight moments when engagement efforts can be made. This may be an hour to make friendly phone calls or emails, or follow-up video messages with a patient about a specific care plan.
By taking the time to lay a strong foundation for your engagement plan, the entire effort becomes less vague and much more concrete. “Patient engagement” is a rather broad umbrella, but by coordinating and discussing with your staff, you can hone in on a mission and easily-attainable goals.
Set clear goals
Improved communication efforts and a more personal rapport with your patients may also bring about higher levels of satisfaction or better clinical results. This can result in financial gains for your practice by reducing canceled appointments or procedures and through better outcomes overall.
Select a few areas where you and your team would most like to see improvement. Starting small is a good way to make sure your practice isn’t too overwhelmed by new policies or responsibilities.
Support your staff
Because your staff will be on the frontline of a new patient engagement effort, making sure each individual has the tools to be successful is important. Ask questions and make sure employees know they can ask questions or present issues or suggestions if needed. Above all else, Health IT Consultant found that creating a culture of engagement will make this initiative feel better integrated into daily routines.
Whenever possible, record each engagement as a way of tracking progress and success. At the end of the month or quarter, each doctor or nurse will have a record of patient communications, and these can be helpful in quantifying the success of your initiative. Set up email filters and document conversations with patients so that each individual has an engagement history.
Digital patient engagement has made such efforts more easy than ever before. Physicians can easily correspond with individual patients and record changes or concerns. For example, a patient living with diabetes can share daily numbers online with a doctor, and email or video conference with concerns of questions.
An internal EHR platform is the centerpiece of a modern engagement initiative. This not only empowers your clinical staff to be more organized and make it easier to communicate, but patients will benefit as well. Athena Health found that 80 percent of individuals who have remote access to EHRs use them, and another two-thirds of Americans want to be able to view records online.
Think like a patient
Because it makes the most sense to start small in a patient engagement program, picking a few areas to improve at first is your best bet. Consider what would make your patients most happy or be most beneficial. This may mean improving correspondence for individuals receiving ongoing treatment, or it could be as simple as allowing patients to schedule appointments online.
Consider what your patients value most when visiting their doctor and look for ways to improve that experience. Happier, more satisfied patients will help get the ball rolling on creating a culture of engagement.