Engaging with patients has been long known to have substantial benefits. As detailed in a previous blog, for healthcare providers, it has helped reduce costs, improve outcomes, increase operational efficiency, lower hospital readmission rates and enhance population health initiatives.
For patients, it gives a better understanding of health concerns, opens opportunities for asking questions, lowers thresholds for accessing medical records and increases confidence in choosing the best options for care.
When COVID-19 hit the United States, though, patient preferences, treatment plans and self-management changed overnight. Sixteen percent of hospitals had critical shortages, and 60-75 percent of physicians and other vital members of the healthcare team have reported exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Amidst the pandemic, healthcare professionals have continued to look for innovative patient engagement methods to drive effective healthcare outcomes.
Challenges of Initiating Patient Engagement
One of the unexpected results of a technology-driven world just turning the corner with COVID-19 is how busier patients have become. With the constant stream of Zoom notifications, emails, voicemails and text messages, it can be challenging to initiate patient engagement for high-risk patients, including those with chronic disease.
Additionally, individuals who grew up without consistent healthcare or access to care when health insurance coverage was a barrier are just starting to re-establish as patients and may initially not understand the value of preventative care. Especially recently, rising inflation costs are having a prominent effect on patients having to keep an eye on premiums and out-of-pocket costs. A staggering estimated 40 million patients who have health insurance tend not to use it due to high deductibles and cost-sharing.
With gas prices rising to as high as $5.86 per gallon, reliable transportation is quickly becoming another social determinant. In fact, studies have shown that the lack of transportation can result in skipped medication, canceled appointments and postponement of treatment regimens. Essentially, out-of-pocket costs are becoming a more prevalent challenge for improved outcomes.
Rethinking Engagement Between Visits
Because patient engagement primarily occurs between visits, it’s important to rethink how we’re using contact points. With patients reporting that they’re forgetting 80% of the information discussed during healthcare visits, it’s imperative to have a patient engagement tool that patients understand and are easy to navigate between visits.
Aside from connecting at the peak of engagement discussed in detail in the next section, health systems can leverage the following contact points between visits:
- Cancer screenings, for conveying the value even if asymptomatic
- Chronic care education and navigation, such as diabetes and hypertension
- Smoking cessation
- Prior to visits for lab tests work so patients understand fasting requirements and medications to hold
- Prenatal and postpartum care
- Wellness visits and vaccinations from childhood through senior care
Read the complete list of use cases on our Population Health page.
Connecting at the Peak of Patient Engagement
The peak of engagement can be defined as the optimal timing when patients are readily seeking to connect and engage with providers. Most often, the peak occurs when patients receive and respond to a message or outreach attempt. Having tools and best practices established before the peak of engagement can result in closing gaps while freeing up valuable resources.
And with technological advances happening every day, we’re at the cusp of understanding why patient engagement is so important. We’re learning intricate patient preferences and applying them for a truly customized care experience. Never before have we been able to access so much data to quantify engagement metrics and see gaps in care and opportunities for engagement.
Because primary care office visits are often the first point of contact for patient engagement, it’s also one of the best starting points for encouraging patients to advocate for their own health. With COVID-19 fears just starting to ease, more patients are re-establishing primary care visits and chronic care treatments that have been inadvertently delayed these past years.
Improve Patient Engagement With Providertech
Improve patient engagement with Providertech’s solutions. The population health tool helps improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction with providers and their care team. The HIPAA-compliant two-way texting solution improves efficiency and closes gaps in care by seizing those moments of peak engagement while decreasing incoming call volume to free up your staff to deliver better patient care.
Combine the power of patient engagement to optimize patient and provider communication, decision-making and improved health outcomes.
Learn more about Providertech solutions here.