Patient engagement is the branch of patient experience and patient satisfaction that focuses on making sure patients and providers work together in tandem to increase health outcomes.
As a practice owner, it’s important for you to increase patient engagement because one of the largest determining factors of your patients’ health is how invested they are in the treatment plan you have provided them. After all, the vast majority of the care plan isn’t done in the doctor’s office; it’s done at home where you have no control over your patients’ actions.
That’s why having an engaged, educated patient population is crucial. If you don’t concentrate some of your budget and efforts to increasing patient engagement and developing a patient engagement strategy, you risk:
- Lower rates of patient activation
- A decrease in the patient experience
- Lower patient satisfaction
In turn, this can lead to a less healthy patient population, more patients leaving your healthcare organization, and fewer referrals.
Overall, increasing patient engagement is one of the best ways to increase patient acquisition and grow your practice. Learn tips to increase patient engagement so that you can reap the benefits of a more healthy medical practice.
Tip #1: Automate patient engagement by using software
When it comes to improving patient engagement, software is your best friend because it allows you to automate and streamline tedious tasks that patients might forget about or might not want to complete. Whether it’s patient engagement software, appointment reminder software, patient scheduling software, patient check-in kiosk software, or patient portal software, using medical software can help increase your patient engagement through quality of life improvements.
For instance, by automatically queueing your patients with patient check-in software, you’re speeding up the paperwork process which means less time spent in the waiting room. Not to mention, less time manually inputting patient information by your staff. This frees up your employees so they can provide a better patient experience.
Appointment reminder software helps improve patient-provider communication. By receiving automated appointment reminders via phone, text message, and email, patients are much more likely to confirm and show up for their scheduled appointment times. After all, a more informed patient is one that is engaged.
Patient scheduling software helps improve patient engagement by streamlining the appointment making process. This means patients face fewer scheduling annoyances such as long hold times, or going back and forth to try and figure out the best appointment time slot. These annoyances are reduced if patients use software to schedule their own appointments at their own pace.
Whatever software you use, you’ll see improved patient satisfaction because software allows you to improve the process of patient care. Software can help you deliver a more personalized experience to patients before, during, or after their visit through the use of technology. Software allows you to better collaborate with your patients which leads to more effective decision making regarding their health care.
Tip #2: Engage your patients before, during, and after their visits
Patient engagement should take place before, during, and after their visits. In fact, it should extend beyond to aftercare as well. We’ll go over a few of the ways you can improve patient engagement during these different times.
The first time you engage with your patient in a meaningful way should not be the first time they check in. We mentioned it above, but providing your patients with appointment reminders, intake forms, and clinical reminders via software (or manually if you are a smaller practice) can jumpstart your patient engagement.
When your patients receive intake forms before they’re in your waiting rooms, they won’t feel rushed to fill it out, resulting in fewer mistakes and more accurate information. This can help your staff by giving them more holistic information regarding the health of your patient and also providing a more accurate picture of their health.
Many health care organizations believe it’s their job to diagnose patients, provide a treatment plan, and move on to the next patient. Although an efficient approach to health care, it can often lead to a healthcare provider being perceived as cold and distant: two things that patient engagement should not be.
In general, not having a good patient-provider relationship during the visit will serve as a roadblock to the high quality care you want to provide as a healthcare organization.
The best way to increase patient engagement is by building trust, and it’s hard to build trust when your patients don’t think you care about their recovery. Not only that, but patients who don’t trust you aren’t going to be transparent about the issues they are facing which will lead to poor diagnoses.
When patients connect with their healthcare provider, they’re more likely to trust the treatment plan, keep to their medication schedules, have better health outcomes, and change the behaviors that might be affecting their health in a negative way. A conveyor belt approach to medicine is not going to accomplish that.
After-visit care engagement
Patient engagement should still be a priority once a patient leaves your office because they aren’t healed yet. That’s where patient education comes into play. Educating your patient about their treatment plan will keep them more engaged and much more likely to adhere to their medication schedule as well as increase their overall health literacy.
If your patient doesn’t understand why they’re being asked to use a piece of technology like remote patient monitoring devices, they aren’t going to acknowledge the importance of adhering to its use. If they don’t know exactly why they should be taking the medication—what it should do and how it is going to help—they aren’t going to want to take it, especially if the side effects aren’t pleasant.
Tip #3: Use your patients’ preferred channels of contact
One of the easiest ways to improve patient engagement is to use the form of communication your patient prefers. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your patient experience is or how personal a message you send is if your patient doesn’t ever see it.
It’s highly unlikely that your patients all prefer the same communication method because your patient population is likely diverse. Whether it’s older folks wanting phone calls, younger patients preferring texts or emails, or anything in between, offering a variety of different communication options helps meet your patients where they’re at.
Increasing patient engagement means a more profitable practice
Not only will having a focus on patient engagement increase patient activation and patient experience, but it will mean greater patient satisfaction, improved health literacy, a healthier patient population, fewer patients leaving, and more referrals.