Patient engagement has become the engine for running a successful medical practice. It can involve anything from the use of patient portals, which allow patients to securely engage with the a through self-service, to communication between providers and patients via other channels such as secure messaging and email marketing.
Patient engagement software enables medical practices to engage with patients throughout the time of care and also significantly lessens the repetitive daily tasks of medical staff. The market for patient engagement software is growing fast, but many practices still aren't sure what the software does and how it fits into their medical practice.
This buyer's guide will help you better understand this market, determine whether you're ready for patient engagement software and give you the information you need to select the best tool for your practice.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Patient Engagement Software?
Common Functionality of Patient Engagement Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits of Patient Engagement Software
Market Trends to Understand
Patient engagement software allows physicians to communicate with patients, manage the patient-provider relationship and offer various medical and educational resources to patients.
Patient engagement software may appear to resemble a patient portal, since both offer engagement between providers and patients. However, a true patient engagement system offers more than what a simple patient portal offers. In general, patient engagement software combines various aspects of medical software, such as medical billing, practice management, customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation.
Vendors offer a variety of functional breadth and depth in their patient engagement software platforms. Here are some of the most common capabilities:
|Secure messaging||Enables providers and patients to communicate in a safe and encrypted manner.|
|Patient scheduling||Allows patients to search for and book appointments online. Can be integrated with the practice's EMR or EHR system.|
|Appointment reminders||Enables medical staff to remind patients of scheduled clinic visits through email, text message or recorded messages so they spend more time with patients in the office rather than on the phone.|
|Patient registration||Allows patients to fill out new patient forms electronically and provide their health history, medication lists etc.|
|Patient document management||Enables patients to view, download and transmit their health reports, lab results and other medication summaries from one provider to another.|
|Patient education||Includes educational and medical resources that are delivered to patients online. The software enables physicians to preselect medical content for specific patients, or content is automatically selected based on medical conditions.|
|Bill payment||Shortens the revenue cycle by offering more payment options to patients.|
Before you start evaluating patient engagement software options, you'll want to know what buyer category you belong to and any unique considerations for your situation. Providers considering patient engagement software will fall into one of the following categories:
Small practices (one to five physicians). You are likely looking to deploy patient engagement software in an effort to grow your patient base. Most cloud-based patient engagement platforms would be suitable for you, since they often offer subscriptions on a per user basis. Look for platforms that offer features such as online form filling for new patients, which will be a big time saver for growing practices.
Midsize practices (six to 25 physicians). You're interested in providing added value to your existing patients as well as adding new patients. You likely have straightforward requirements that are met by most cloud-based systems. Look to features such as online appointment scheduling, appointment reminders and patient education to improve the patient experience.
Appointment reminders on Nextech's patient engagement mobile platform
Large practices (25+ physicians). You'll likely fall into this category if you're a multiple specialty clinic and/or have a large number of providers. You should look at scalable, robust solutions that integrate with your existing technology. For example, integrated bill payment features offered by patient engagement systems can make your revenue cycle more efficient.
Practices implementing patient engagement software stand to benefit in a variety of ways. The key benefits include:
As you search for patient engagement software, be sure you're informed about these latest related trends:
Here are some important factors to think about before you implement patient engagement software:
System integration. You must consider patient engagement software that integrates well with your existing technology, such as an EHR, EMR, practice management system etc. Proper integration should make it easy to share existing patient health data between systems.
Cloud or on-premise deployment. Before shopping around, decide which deployment option will work better for you. Check with vendors to learn what options they offer. The majority of patient engagement software is delivered in the cloud and hosted on third-party servers. However, a few vendors offer on-premise patient engagement solutions.
Ease of use. Any new software must be easy to learn and use. A complex system that is not user friendly will deter medical staff and patients from using it, therefore defeating the purpose of implementing a new tool. Take advantage of the free demos and trials offered by software vendors to evaluate ease of use.
Mobile support. Since there is a growing number of software users who prefer to use mobile devices to access medical and health information, check whether vendors offer a mobile application as well. The mobility aspect also enables your patients to access the software on the move and engage better with physicians.
Meaningful use. There are various objectives and measures in different stages of the meaningful use incentive program that are related to patient engagement. For example, offering patient-specific education can help practices seeking eligibility for EHR Incentive Program Stage 3 benefits.
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