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Patient engagement directly affects patient perception of overall quality of care (QOC). Therefore, health care providers and organizations should prioritize implementing patient engagement solutions. Doing so can be key to measuring improvement and increasing reimbursements. So how can your practice improve patient engagement and maximize every interaction?
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement can include:
- Patients taking an active role in gathering or reviewing information
- Patients taking an active role in decision-making about their health
- Patients taking an active role in compliance with treatment and medications
- Patients interacting positively with doctors, staff and practices
- Patients responding to surveys and questions about their quality of care
How Can Practices Improve Patient Engagement?
The World Health Organization notes that the use of electronic tools can increase patient engagement through the following actions:
- Using electronic health records (EHRs) for more accurate and complete patient records
- Taking part in timely and reliable sharing of health data using health information exchanges (HIEs)
- Supporting the diagnosis, monitoring and management of diseases and conditions
- Effecting behavior change and reduction of health risk through patient education
- Empowering and engaging patients and families in their own care
Practices can help boost patient engagement by addressing common pain points when implementing actions steps.
Longer wait times directly and negatively impact perceived QOC. In fact, according to data from almost 12,000 surveys, every aspect of patient experience, and especially confidence in the provider and perceived quality of care, correlated negatively with longer wait times.
One study noted that the three actions most likely to make patients more forgiving of delays included:
- Proactively informing patients of delays
- Explicitly apologizing for delays
- Providing opportunities for diversion
However, mitigating the causes of delays in the first place can have an even more positive effect. If the source of delay in seeing a patient can be addressed, patient wait time can be reduced, and mitigation will be unnecessary.
Stacks of new patients and admissions paperwork can overwhelm people easily, and make them feel like there are obstacles in the way of obtaining medical care. Again, digitization is key to making paperwork less of a burden.
The paperwork issue bleeds over into the rest of the visit. Doctors spend just barely over half their time in the exam room with a patient communicating with that patient. They spend much of the rest on paperwork, digital or otherwise.
Improving access to patient health data enhances relationships. When patients can access their results from tests or lab work or access their medications list through a secure portal, they can become partners in their care plan.
Doctors and specialists also need to access — in real time, if possible — patient data held by other doctors, laboratories and pharmacies. Siloed data can slow down response times and leave patients frustrated and dissatisfied.
Using the patients’ preferred methods for contact improves consistency in keeping appointments and follow-up care protocols. Whether you call, text or email, communicating important information is a large part of outpatient care.
What Patient Engagement Solutions Exist?
From simple and practical to technologically advanced, these solutions can help you improve patient engagement and raise patient satisfaction scores, which can lead to higher overall ratings for your practice and an increased likelihood of qualifying for incentives from insurers.
Online appointment-making and automated patient reminders
A comprehensive study of literature surrounding web-based appointment-making pointed to an improved patient experience across the following areas:
- A reduced no-show rate
- Decreased wait times
- Improved patient satisfaction
Portal-submitted paperwork and in-office tablet use for intake questions
Using self-service options for patients can make processes faster and improve patient satisfaction. Allowing new patients to complete intake questionnaires and upload insurance paperwork online can streamline visits. Handheld devices can also speed things along; one study showed that implementing tablets for forms management allowed the health system to reduce check-in time from 12 to 4 minutes, decreased insurance denials, and improved staff efficiency by 15%.
Faster patient reception-to-room movement
It is a fact that reduced patient wait times increase patient satisfaction. Further, simply hastening the patient from the reception area can improve the patient’s perception of wait time. Even if the total wait time remains the same, the patient who spends most of that time in the exam room rather than in reception has a significantly more positive perception of how long they waited.
Health Information Exchanges
HIEs streamline the transmission of information from one point to the next, making it easy for medical professionals, labs, pharmacies, public health centers and patients to access data. Using a secure HIE, assures patient privacy and improves patient care for better satisfaction scores.
Online Patient Payments
Allowing patients to make payments online can increase revenues and reduce accounts that get stuck in billing cycles or have to be sent to collections (or eventually written off.) Integration of an online payment system allows for tablets to collect point of service charges at the same time as patient information. This reduces time spent waiting before or after the visit to make a payment.
Post visit follow ups / invitations to give feedback
Patient engagement after the visit can affect patient satisfaction significantly. Patients view a simple follow-up from the doctor as going above and beyond. This can be as simple as an email checking in on the patient, offering a streamlined mode of contact if there is a concern, and requesting the answer to a simple one question survey.
The personal appeal from the doctor to complete the survey can be a large motivator. Collecting surveys like these can be critical to tracking and measuring patient satisfaction and improvement over time, an important metric in incentive-based programs for enhanced reimbursement rates.
How Tangible Can Help
Tangible’s Happe-Engage Solution Suite can help transform your patient engagement processes. Our platform streamlines and enhances the patient experience life cycle. To learn how we can help you improve your patient engagement and satisfaction scores from appointment booking to pre-visit paperwork to post-visit surveys and more, contact Tangible today.