Engaged patients experience greater awareness of treatment guidelines, fewer emergency department visits and lower hospital readmission rates. Healthcare providers who focus on engaging with their patients improve communication and trust and make more informed care decisions. 

Why, then, don’t more physician practices employ patient engagement strategies? Some simply don’t make it a priority; others don’t know where to start. 

Most patients want to be more engaged with their provider. More than half of healthcare consumers have said that a trusted medical professional could motivate them to adopt digital tools, thereby helping them to take a more active role in their own health. Most want their providers to send automated communications, such as automated text messages, emails or voice call reminders, to encourage them to take specific actions, such as scheduling appointments

Before deciding what type of patient engagement strategy to utilize, physician practices and other healthcare providers should understand the foundational components of one. No matter the size of the medical group, a patient engagement strategy should consist of a vision and list of priorities, regular training for your staff — and patients, a culture of engagement, an assessment and application of patient communication preferences and the adoption of correlated digital technology tools and services. 

For example, the vision should define and clarify the objectives and expectations of the patient engagement program along with a list of who is part of it and their specific roles. And, staff should be trained regularly on the technology, tools and procedures they use to proactively engage patients. 

There is no one-size-fits-all patient engagement strategy for healthcare providers, but there certainly are best practices to utilize. They ensure physician practices understand how to implement some of the most important elements of healthcare consumerism and provide a positive patient experience. 

#1. Use Patients’ Preferred Methods of Communication 

Knowing your patients’ communication preferences is crucial for a successful patient engagement program because it allows providers to engage them at the right time through the right channel with the right message. Also, no matter the reasons for these preferences, providers must not only understand them but also meet them. 

Studies have found that texting is the most preferred form of communication in the United States, with nine out of ten customers picking text messaging over other methods. Nearly 80 percent of patients want to receive text messages from their provider, and a majority prefer them over email, phone calls or patient portal messages. 

Two-way text messaging not only saves provider staff time by reducing the number of phone calls but it also decreases no-shows and cancellations. Whatever method is used, all patient data must be accessible in a single location. 

#2. Personalize and Customize Messaging When Possible 

Customers expect all types of businesses to have a good understanding of their needs and desires — and that includes healthcare. Personalized messaging and communication that’s relevant and more meaningful to patients can help providers improve outcomes and satisfaction. This could include tailoring messages by age group, chronic condition, insurance status or other social determinants of health (SDOH) variables.

HIPAA-compliant, automated text, voice or email reminders can be personalized and customized to remind patients of upcoming visits and preventive screening opportunities at regular intervals. Aftercare patient engagement can include medication adherence, follow-up on possible complications and patient reminders. 

#3. Promote Patient Education 

Healthcare providers have a responsibility to care for their patients and ensure that they understand the information being offered to them. Not every patient has the same level of education or health literacy or speaks the same language, so physician practices must take SDOH into account when communicating with them. 

When healthcare providers effectively educate patients, those individuals understand their health conditions and choices and are actively engaged in their care. Medical groups should consider utilizing educational technology such as digital health tools, which have the potential to increase patient satisfaction, improve medication adherence and help individuals track and monitor their health. 

#4. Take Advantage of Automation 

About one-third of the tasks performed by physicians and their staff can be automated. Physician practices that use technology solutions that employ automation can streamline administrative aspects of their business while optimizing their ability to provide patient-centered care. 

Healthcare processes improved through automation in healthcare range from prescription refills and medical record transfers to patient surveys and chronic disease management. Digital health solutions like two-way text messaging keep patients engaged in their care by helping remind them of appointments, preventive screenings and more. 

For healthcare providers, technology solutions that employ automation improve provider documentation and increase accuracy, revenue and reimbursement. Most importantly, these solutions allow them to spend more time with their patients. 

#5. Engage in Behavioral Economics 

Some providers are using a new strategy for patient engagement by incorporating ideas from the field of behavioral economics. Why? Because applying insights and principles from behavioral economics has the potential to increase and improve patient engagement for healthcare providers of all sizes. 

Harvard Business Review defines behavioral economics as a field that combines insights from psychology, judgment and decision-making and economics to generate a more accurate understanding of human behavior. It explains why individuals may make irrational choices by demonstrating how biases, heightened emotions, faulty heuristics, mental fatigue, loss aversion, choice overload, perceived social norms, situational framing and context influence their decision-making. 

Boost Patient Engagement With Providertech

Providertech’s patient engagement platform is designed to boost patient engagement through secure and personalized communication. With solutions like two-way text messaging, automated appointment reminders, electronic test results delivery and outreach workflows that support population health management, it increases operational efficiency and optimizes patient care. Schedule a demo with us to learn more!