Nov 5, 2019 · 4 min
Patient engagement is a somewhat new phenomenon in the healthcare industry yet a vital strategy which involves the actions set forth by healthcare providers and patients to support informed decision-making to facilitate improved healthcare services. The importance of patient engagement can be exemplified in the evidence supporting its significance in reducing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.
Successful patient engagement has been shown to
· Motivate patients to be more proactive about their health
· Reduce the number of no-show appointments
· Increase patient-to-patient referrals
· Improve patient health and satisfaction
· Enhance general population healthcare knowledge
It’s easy to understand why patient engagement is vital to the healthcare industry, but how exactly does it work? Continue reading to learn how to augment patient engagement and thus improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes.
Communicate via Email
Phone calls require immediate responses, can disrupt workflow, and can cause misunderstandings if there is a language or accent barrier or hearing impairments. Emails, however, can be read at any time (it’s safe to assume most people have email on their phone), can be reread, and can be saved for future reference. Emailing patients instead of calling is a simple yet effective way to increase patient engagement, as about 93% of adults would prefer doctors to email instead of call.*
Texting appointment reminders is a great way to increase patient engagement because patients appreciate the attentiveness and are less likely to miss their appointment. Additionally, sending daily medication reminders can further increase patient engagement as well as medication adherence.
Most people nowadays have a smartphone, and it’s highly likely that your website is being viewed more often from a phone than a computer. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly so that your patients, and potential new patients, can easily find the information they need. Create an app for your practice or enable patients to schedule appointments online from your website; most patients prefer online scheduling, and it’ll save your staff time from having to book them.
Offering telehealth services increases patient engagement because it allows patients an active role in their health, offers virtual non face-to-face care options which is especially beneficial for mental health patients, increases medication compliance, and allows patients in rural areas to more easily receive care.
Enabling the ability to electronically prescribe (ePrescribe) in your practice is a huge benefit to your team and to the patients. It allows providers and pharmacies to access a patient’s medication history, view insurance details, electronically send prescriptions, eliminate paper waste, and automate refill authorizations. The ability to immediately receive prescription refills is especially beneficial for patients with multiple prescriptions as it saves time, cuts costs, and facilitates services.
Patient Access to Medical Records
Allowing patients online access to their own medical records is highly effective in increasing patient engagement because patients want to be more involved in their health. In fact, about 57% of patients reported that they’d be more engaged in their health if they were given online access to their medical records.*
Social Media and Blog
Patients are more likely to trust a healthcare provider who offers care outside of the typical clinical setting, being that they spend the majority of their lives outside of the clinical setting. Cultivating an online presence on social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, enhances patient engagement as it provides additional resources, increases availability, and allows for patients to connect with others. Additionally, maintaining a blog that’s consistently updated with relevant content further improves patient engagement as it provides educational resources in a patient-friendly format and because patients appreciate original content as it shows genuine care.
Online reviews offer healthcare providers opportunities to improve patient engagement as a patient is more likely to be motivated about their health if they trust your reputation. Positive reviews can enhance your online visibility to engage more patients, while negative reviews offer doctor’s an opportunity to respond and remediate the complaint. It’s estimated that about 62% of patients will first look at online reviews when choosing a new doctor, so providers should ensure to utilize review sites and respond to any complaints.**
People are more motivated to take control of their health if they understand how to, but unfortunately, the majority of patients don’t have a medical degree and the terms can easily become lost in translation. Providing patient education materials such as pamphlets, trifolds, and infographics helps to deliver vital healthcare information to patients in easy-to-understand formats and it’s especially beneficial to offer multilingual options for patients with a language barrier.
Through the use of various educational resources, online networking and connections, patient accessibility to personal medical records, and innovative telehealth services, healthcare providers are able to optimize patient engagement, improve overall healthcare outcomes, and maximize revenue.