Patient Engagement in Healthcare
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We pick up the phone. We think it’s fundamental, but not everyone does. Our platform is better, but this might be the real reason customers stay.
Appointment reminders, no-show reengagement, and secure messaging reduce office distraction and provide a modern digital communication experience for your patients.
Sometimes patients forget to schedule their next appointment. If your system allows, PracticeSuite automatically reaches out to get them on the books.
PracticeSuite includes Messenger with all products so that patients can reply to any reminder and start a 2-way chat with the office staff over SMS.
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Patient Engagement In Healthcare
What is patient engagement? Patient engagement refers to the method of actively involving a patient in their healthcare decision-making process. Patient engagement seeks to empower patients by providing them with the information, resources, and tools that they need to make decisions about their health and actively collaborate with healthcare providers in their treatment and care.
Patient engagement in healthcare is an important part of patient-centered care, which is a term that was first coined in the 1950s by psychologist Carl Rogers. It describes a type of care that is about building a relationship of trust between the patient and their healthcare provider, in order for the patient to be able to live to their fullest potential. However, it’s not truly been until the last decade that ‘patient-centered care’ has taken off to become the standard in the healthcare industry.
There are a few different methods of patient engagement that are popular in people-centered care. The first is health education. Providing patients with relevant information about their diagnosis, treatment options, preventative measures, and lifestyle choices is a vital step in ensuring that they are able to make confident decisions about how to proceed. Shared decision-making is another important aspect of patient engagement – gone are the days when the doctor decided what is best and there are no other options. In patient-centered care, healthcare providers collaborate with patients through patient engagement. They decide to move forward with treatment decisions together based on a patient’s preferences, values, and goals.
However, there are some patient engagement challenges that many healthcare providers may face and must overcome. Some barriers to patient engagement found in a recent medical study included communication challenges, factors specific to patients, difficulty maintaining engagement over time, as well as difficulty in achieving genuine collaboration. These barriers are important to consider when forming a patient engagement plan.
Why Is Patient Engagement Important
An article published by the Society for Clinical Research Sites noted that the history of patient engagement began when ethical standards for clinical research were established as a result of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the history of Henrietta Lacks – an American woman whose cancer cells reproduced infinitely and were used by Johns Hopkins Hospital without her knowledge or consent for research. These two cases are infamous for failing to take the patient’s perspective into account or placing any emphasis on the needs, goals, and values of the patients in care. They alone can speak to the importance of patient engagement in healthcare – the importance of keeping the patient at the center of their care instead of what could possibly be gained from treating them.
Why is patient engagement important? Patient engagement can play an important role in improving health outcomes, enhancing patient satisfaction, and stronger communication and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers. Patient involvement in healthcare decision-making can also have an impact on treatment plans. Patients are also more likely to adhere to a treatment plan that they actively participated in creating, which can also lead to improved health outcomes.
A study was conducted on patient engagement statistics to determine their impact on health outcomes, patient compliance, self-efficiency, and return on investment. The study found that patient engagement techniques can improve treatment outcomes, patient satisfaction, and patient health. It can also increase the productivity of the service provider and increase self-care and patient adherence. However, return on investment can be a challenge for patient engagement, as it requires some extra lift from the provider team. Some healthcare providers utilize healthcare technology to mitigate the lift require to deliver patient-centered care and excellent patient engagement methods. The Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula began using a patient engagement app and saw a 14% reduction in hospital readmission for highly engaged patients.
Benefits Of Patient Engagement
We’ve already briefly covered the benefits of involving patients in their own care. However, the benefits of patient engagement are serious and can not be overstated. An empirical study of the benefits of patient engagement and health outcomes found that patient engagement can lead to the following:
- Fewer hospitalizations
- Improved effectiveness and efficiency in health services
- Increased perceived quality of health services
- Increased reported quality of life among patients
- Improved responsiveness
Patients are becoming more aware than ever that they have the freedom of choice when it comes to their care. Healthcare providers are now forced to care about qualitative data in addition to quantitative data – they must find ways to keep their “customers” – patients satisfied with their care in order to keep their business. Patients have several expectations of their healthcare providers – expectations that pertain to value, responsibility, transparency, choice, and engagement. One study called it the “birth of the healthcare consumer.” This can provide a challenge for healthcare providers – but it can also provide an opportunity to provide higher quality care at more efficient costs, increasing patient satisfaction and retention. The same study noted that this increased attention to patient engagement and re-investment in patient-centered care can lead to new roles in nursing and across the healthcare field in order to maximize patient engagement, such as a Patient Engagement Officer.
More benefits of involving patients in decision-making include increased health literacy and patient awareness. This can lead to increased preventative care and a reduction in healthcare costs. This is because the patient caught or reversed the progress of their illness before it became very costly to treat. While there are many ways to define patient engagement, a definition healthcare institutes such as the National Institutes of Health has provided is that “patient engagement is defined as the desire and capability to actively choose to participate in care in a way uniquely appropriate to the individual, in cooperation with a healthcare provider or institution, for the purposes of maximizing outcomes or improving experiences of care.”
How To Involve Patients In Their Care
There are many questions surrounding patient engagement – such as do patients want to be involved in decision making? While the answer is usually yes, there have been some studies that have shown that patients at lower income levels can become overwhelmed by many patient engagement strategies because their long-term financial and emotional issues outweigh their illness. However, that does not negate the importance of patient engagement in healthcare – all patients can benefit from the improved healthcare outcomes that patient engagement increases. So the question for many healthcare providers becomes how to involve patients in their care.
There are many patient engagement strategies that have seen success in healthcare organizations – some of the most common patient engagement examples include patient portals, telemedicine, health education, support groups, and more. Other examples of patient engagement activities might look like health education workshops, which are seminar-like events where patients can learn about their medical conditions, treatment options, self-care techniques, and preventative measures. These types of events are also great opportunities for patients to discover that they are not alone in their illness and for networking and support groups to occur.
Shared decision-making is a big part of patient engagement that we’ve already discussed. However, it’s important to make the decision that shared decision-making alone is _not_ patient engagement. It is simply a technique that should be used in tandem with other patient engagement strategies. Shared decision-making can only occur when a patient has been adequately educated on their options and is capable of making an informed decision. Health education is a patient engagement strategy that can take many forms, from pamphlets to doctor-patient conversations to educational workshops or informational portals. With so many options, it doesn’t have to be difficult for healthcare providers to determine how to improve patient engagement in healthcare.
Patient Engagement Technology
Healthcare technology can also play an important role in patient engagement. There are many moving parts to patient engagement, from every aspect of healthcare. Healthcare technology can support the importance of patient engagement in healthcare while mitigating the costs and effort of healthcare staff. Patient-centered care ultimately requires learning more about the patient – their needs, values, goals, and more. However – what happens to all of that information after it’s learned? If it’s not properly stored, the information is lost – causing frustration to the patient and a loss of trust in their healthcare provider.
A patient engagement platform like PracticeSuite can serve as an all-in-one solution for healthcare providers seeking to level up their care in a cost-effective manner. Communication is a necessary part of patient engagement. It’s important to not only communicate frequently and transparently with patients but to do it in the method that they prefer. This means that patient engagement technology should be capable of communicating with patients however they prefer – whether that is over text, email, or phone.
Patient engagement software should give patients a central hub of communication and education. Those two elements are vital pillars of patient engagement. PracticeSuite’s software gives patients the ability to send a text any time of day or night, and anyone on staff can reply to the message when they are available. Patients can also use patient engagement software to self-schedule their appointments, check in, and participate in patient satisfaction surveys. When used in combination with PracticeSuite’s comprehensive offerings, they can also use the portal to download their own health information and gain access to healthcare education.
Utilizing healthcare technology can allow providers to focus on the patients instead of the logistical details. An all-in-one solution reduces the need for software mish-mashing, reduces informational silos, and best of all – provides one source of truth for both your staff and your patients.