What Is It and Why It Is Important?
In the healthcare system, a patient’s misunderstanding about medical conditions can leave them feeling as if their desires and health needs are not being considered.
That is why Patient Engagement is so important. It is the process of earnestly and actively involving patients within their healthcare experience, or better put, healthcare with heart behind it.
- Engaged patients are referred to as “activated patients,” meaning they demonstrate positive behavior such as managing their own healthcare. They are going out of their way to schedule and show up for appointments, ask questions, and follow recommendations.
- Engaged practices empower patients to plan medical care in their everyday life. They send appointment reminders, offer safe check-ins, and request feedback about their experience.
When a patient is more actively involved in their healthcare experience it can transform their journey. They become determined participants that develop a sense of ownership and empowerment. Healthcare providers also benefit from this. As patients grow in confidence, it leads to increased devotion to care plans, better self-management of chronic conditions, and enhanced communication with healthcare providers.
Patient Engagement in Health Sectors
Home Health: When someone needs assistance to live independently, they need to know they can reach out to their practitioners when they have important questions and concerns. Patient engagement plays a huge role here. In-home health, practitioners are face-to-face with the patient. Here, they can easily give appointment reminders and check in prior to weekends so their patient is prepared. Also, using the “teach-back” or “show-me” method is a great way to check patient understanding during treatment sessions.
Hospice Care: As patients and loved ones go through this challenging time together, it is essential to have a quality team of hospice providers. To improve delivery, surveys about the practitioner allow practices to focus on offering the best personal care possible. Automated tuck-in calls are a compassionate method for making sure your patient feels considered before the long weekend. These calls are a wonderful time to remind patients of preferred urgent care locations and provide a clear and friendly explanation for specific weekend care instructions.
- Consider: Is there a patient who has reached out multiple times for advice, that might benefit from a tuck-in call?
Health Systems: Appointment reminders and early check-in create an eager opportunity for open conversations surrounding a patient’s health. It is always best to encourage check-ins prior to weekends and distribute on-the-go surveys. Additionally, remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs reframe the patient-provider relationship by taking a prevention approach. RPM technology allows healthcare providers to monitor fluctuations in a patient’s health in the comfort of their own homes. A beneficial way to engage is by making sure your patient understands why they are being described a monitor and how it works.
Patient engagement continues to be one of the most prominent concepts in modern healthcare, but there are still many hindrances. There are both personal and systematic barriers that restrict patient engagement.
- For patients, a lack of health literacy or digital access required to make informed decisions may lead to uncertainty. This often leads to hesitant patients that put anxiety above being proactive. Also, varied patient populations may be less likely to engage due to their level of education, age, sex, religious beliefs, or cultural values.
- For practices, the traditional health system is not set up to facilitate patient engagement properly. Challenges may include a facility’s design, poor device management, or the confusion that comes with advanced technology. Additionally, practitioners may not have the training or time required to properly engage with patients of varied populations.
By elevating the importance of patient engagement at your practice, you can decrease the likelihood of these risks, while increasing the possibility to provide better and more effective care.
Strive for Transparency across all your healthcare operations. This will give information about employee performance, resource availability, scheduling efficiency, and patient details. Patient engagement will only increase if your organization itself is proactively engaged with employees and overall operations. To make this as easy as possible, use tools that automatically track patient demand and preferences, resource location and availability, scheduling, services rendered, and provider and patient feedback. Engagement is improved if you have accurate information on what’s working, what isn’t, and what you’ll need to create more meaningful patient interactions.
Personalizing Communication is vital for healthcare organizations hoping to better engage patients. Use tools that enable effective communication in a single place. A telehealth company or an easy-to-use app allows providers to send patients reminders to take medications, attend upcoming visits, or fill out healthcare progress forms. Also, focus on simple user-friendly options that are suited for your patients. Communicate how they prefer. This results in better patient and provider trust, building a stronger relationship to identify health issues earlier on.
Educating for Efficiency in your organization will tackle challenges from varied patient populations. It’s important to educate staff on the why and how of patient education, health literacy, and what defines quality education. This might include taking time for seminars or investing in resources that teach your staff about different populations and how their personal relationship to healthcare can affect their journey. Training can also be built by your clinicians to work within your care protocols.
At its core, patient engagement is a dynamic, strategic approach taken by healthcare organizations looking to provide holistic care. This strategy includes many benefits and outcomes:
- Decrease Cancellations—Activated patients are confident that each visit with their provider will be valuable.
- Fewer Readmissions—Better prepared patients trust that the provider has their best interests in mind and follow care recommendations.
- Increase Employee Retention—Patient-centered care practices lead to a decrease in nurse turnover rate due to work satisfaction.
- Enhanced Competitiveness—Increases market shares with additions in both returning and new patients, willing to switch care providers for better patient experience.
- Staff Optimization—Allows all employees to operate at top of license and frees up time to focus on self-improvement.
Your organization’s ability to fully engage patients can make or break your overall success. After all, engaged patients who have a proactive role in their care and positive patient-provider relationships are more likely to continue patient services. That’s why it’s important for both practitioners and patients to be involved in the patient engagement process.