Studies show that patients who feel empowered as decisionmakers in their own care feel more satisfied with that care and tend to have better outcomes. It’s also good for business: Engage patients, and they’re more likely to stay with your practice.
The biggest challenge to patient engagement might not be access to health information, but shifting the attitudes and expectations of both clinicians and patients. Patients may already expect to have more of a say in their care. They’re paying as much as 30% of their healthcare costs now, and their care expectationsare higher than ever. The good news for smaller practices is they can adopt a more patient-centric model more easily than larger enterprises. Smaller offices generally have greater flexibility and less bureaucracy.
Nationally, much of the patient engagement effort has focused on patient portals. Practices must meet specific Meaningful Use thresholds for portal use. In addition, more than 80% of doctors believe a patient portal helps with patient satisfaction and 71% believe it helps with patient/physicians communication.
Engaging patients takes more than a portal, although that’s a good place to start. Using a portal, patients can schedule appointments and securely message providers about health concerns, prescriptions, and care plans. An effective portal also enables providers to stay in touch with patients between visits. And that means patients of all ages, not just Millennials.
The HIMSS Patient Engagement Framework can help practices of all sizes get started developing or strengthening their patient engagement strategies. The framework offers advice for all stages of implementation of a patient engagement strategy, including portals and other technology.
Should social media be part of your patient engagement strategy? More than 70% of adults use some form of social media, and 41% said social media use influences their choice of doctor. Lower-tech patient engagement can be as simple as offering multiple options for scheduling, paying bills and reminders—online, by phone or text, or in person. Accommodating patient preferences can also potentially improve practice revenue.
Whether a practice’s patient engagement plan is electronic or not, the commitment to patient engagement has to be practice-wide. Dedicate sufficient resources to patient involvement, andapproach it as a long-term strategy.
If the strategy includes implementing new technology, make sure physicians and staff understand itand can explain the benefits to patients. They might be reluctant to provide an email address or other information unless they understand what they could gain from doing so.
Last Updated on June 22, 2016