As healthcare providers search for ways to set their office apart from others and better serve their patients, one concept that often comes up is patient engagement. Simply put, this entails encouraging patients to get more involved in their own healthcare over their lifetime. So, why is patient engagement important, and how can you try it out at your own medical practice? Here’s what you need to know before you start making patient engagement a priority.
Understanding Patient Engagement in Healthcare
The point of patient engagement is to motivate patients to participate more in their own healthcare, working with their doctor to improve their health over time. This means pushing them to be more informed about their diagnoses, treatment options, and steps they can take to stay healthy as they get older. Patient engagement can be considered a partnership between patients and their doctors, and it’s become a more common approach in recent years than ever before.
After all, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), engaged patients are better at making informed healthcare decisions. This can lead to better health outcomes for them while driving down healthcare costs overall. As a result, patient engagement can benefit patients, providers, and the public as a whole. That’s why it’s become an increasingly common goal for providers everywhere, going from an extra perk to a necessity for quality healthcare. So if you’re not already focusing on patient engagement in your office, it’s time to find out how to get started and what benefits to expect from it.
What Are the Benefits of Patient Engagement in Healthcare?
Patient engagement has advantages for both providers and patients. One primary example of this is that patients who are more involved in their healthcare than average tend to have better health outcomes. In fact, one study concluded that people who aren’t engaged in their healthcare are twice as likely to delay needed medical care than engaged patients, and they’re three times as likely to suffer from unmet medical needs.
Other studies have drawn similar conclusions, reporting that when patients are heavily involved in their healthcare decisions, they have fewer visits to the ER or hospital and a lower rate of surgery. This may be because engaged patients, who are educated about health risks that they face, can take preventive measures to avoid developing or worsening certain health conditions. And when they’re aware of symptoms and risk factors to look out for—thanks to their doctor engaging and educating them—they’re likely to get medical treatment sooner than average so they can expect better health outcomes.
Of course, these perks of patient engagement in healthcare don’t just benefit patients. They also have a significant effect on providers. To start, patients who have better health outcomes tend to be more satisfied with their care, which can increase patient retention for doctor offices. Being able to keep the same patients for years means your office is more efficient, as you can spend less time marketing and more time providing care to the patients you already have.
Plus, the ability to craft a patient-provider relationship that’s better than average makes it likely that your office will get good reviews from current patients, which can attract more patients if you have the availability to take on new ones. And when patients are more involved in their healthcare decisions, they’re more likely than average to make it to their appointments, reducing the rate of no-shows for your office. Clearly, encouraging providers to collaborate and engage with patients can lead to better healthcare outcomes, as well as more efficiency and profitability for the office.
Patient Engagement Strategies to Use
Now that you know the importance of patient engagement, it’s time to determine the best ways to try it out at your own office. Patient engagement strategies vary quite a bit, but the general rule of thumb is to do everything you can to connect your providers to your patients so they can easily collaborate. This encourages patients to stay updated and involved in their healthcare, from wellness checks to long-term treatment plans.
One example of a patient engagement strategy is the use of an online health care record that’s easy to share between providers and patients. While providers are familiar with the EHR, studies show that many patients still aren’t. In fact, one study reported that as little as 10% of patients with access to their EHR actually looked at it.
Considering the wealth of information that the EHR contains—from medical history and x-ray images to immunization dates and lab results—it’s crucial for doctors to persuade their patients to view their electronic health record data in a patient portal regularly. Doing so will keep them informed on their treatment plans and will also streamline the workflow for providers since patients can update information as needed. For instance, they can add notes about allergies and reactions to medications, saving time and improving efficiency in the provider/patient relationship.
Another patient engagement strategy is to encourage them to join wellness programs in which they’re rewarded for taking steps toward good health. For instance, patients might use wearable fitness trackers to record their steps or hours of exercise every week, which providers can track and reward over time. They can even create competitions out of it, pushing patients to do better when it comes to their health and fitness whenever possible. Offering health courses and even simply communicating with patients regularly on social media pages are other ways to improve patient engagement.
Get Help with Patient Engagement
As you can see, there are a variety of patient engagement strategies to try and several reasons to do so. If you need help getting started, contact TempDev here or at 888.TEMP.DEV today. Our team of EHR and practice management experts can advise you on ways to get patients more involved in their healthcare options. From helping set up patient portals for a more engaged patient community or assistance with EHR reports, we’re happy to provide the guidance you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!
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