Patient engagement is the newest buzzword in healthcare. It’s defined as “the degree to which patients take an active, responsible role in their health care decisions.”
As it sounds simple, the truth is that patient engagement is a complex concept with multiple layers and numerous factors that impact the quality of care a patient receives.
At its core, patient engagement creates a mutually beneficial relationship between patients and providers.
This relationship begins with an initial consultation and continues through diagnosis and treatment, but it doesn’t end there.
Increasingly, healthcare providers are using technology to create a lasting bond with their patients, and in some cases, they’re creating long-term relationships that benefit both parties.
But how can we improve this patient engagement in our healthcare systems?
● Identify Patients
To improve patient engagement, you need to know your target audience. Identify which of your patients are most likely to benefit from increased education and access to information.
This may include those who visit most frequently or people who have been hospitalized in the past year. This can help you target your most vulnerable patients and give them the tools they need to be more proactive about their health.
● Communicate Effectively
The first step towards engaging patients is to make sure you’re communicating effectively with them. This means speaking clearly and concisely, avoiding medical jargon as much as possible.
It’s also important that you listen carefully to what the patient says, whether they’re answering questions or sharing their concerns. If you don’t fully understand what they’re saying, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
● Go Mobile
Patients want more information regarding their health, but they don’t want to call the doctor’s office unless necessary.
Offering patient engagement solutions like mobile app technology has enabled patients to download their information and view it on their smartphone or tablet while reducing doctors’ regular calls but still allowing patients to feel connected.
● Provide Education
Patients will be more satisfied when they understand the healthcare process. This can come in handouts, videos, pamphlets, and even email updates, with information on their specific conditions.
Patients will feel more secure when they know what to expect after leaving your office.
● Invite Patients’ Input on Their Care Plans
Another way to increase patient engagement is by inviting patients’ input on their care plans. This may include asking them how they would like their care managed and what treatment options they would prefer if possible.
It also means getting feedback from family members and friends who may have different perspectives than doctors or nurses on what will work best for each person’s needs.
● Prioritize Shared Decision Making
Shared decision-making refers to a collaborative approach between doctors and patients in making treatment options.
In this approach, doctors educate their patients on the various treatment options and their risks, benefits, and side effects and discuss any questions or concerns.
Patients are then allowed to choose which treatment option is best for them based on their preferences and values.
Shared decision-making allows patients to take control of their health and may increase patient engagement levels in healthcare practices.
● Continuous Care
You need to keep track of your patient’s health history. This is where Electronic Health Records (EHR) come into play.
EHR lets you keep track of your patient’s medical history without having to refer to the patient’s chart or ask them about their previous medical care.
These records will allow you to know the physician who attended your patient lastly and the mode of treatment administered.
Since EHRs allow easy access, it will be easy for you to make an appointment with the patient.
● Conduct Regular Follow-Ups with all Patients
Helping patients stay on track with their treatment plans is vital for your patient and practice.
Regular follow-ups via telephone calls or email can help keep patients up-to-date with their care plan, which improves their likelihood of sticking with it.
Additionally, regular follow-ups allow you to check on how they’re doing with their treatment. For instance, you can see if they’re experiencing any negative side effects or notice any improvements that could be made to their care plan.
Engaging patients in their healthcare help them make healthy lifestyle choices and encourages compliance with their treatment.
There are many positive outcomes for this approach that helps both patients and healthcare providers. In short, we can all benefit from better patient engagement in healthcare.