Patient engagement platforms are being utilized more than ever for encouraging interaction with healthcare providers. According to a 2021 survey by NextGen Healthcare, 83 percent of ambulatory healthcare respondents believe engagement solutions play a fundamental role in patient outcomes and organizational financial success.
What exactly is a patient engagement platform, though, and what should you look for if you’re in the market for one? This blog unpacks the seven key components that should be at the top of your list, additional resources for learning more about patient engagement, and why HIPAA compliance matters now more than ever.
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement has been defined as the active collaboration between patients and providers to design, manage and achieve positive health outcomes. It’s such a broad topic that we’ve broken it down by industry in our blog topics on the pharmacy’s role in patient engagement, lung cancer screening patient engagement opportunities and how technology can improve future health outcomes for women with complicated pregnancies.
When talking about the digital side of patient engagement, there are several key advantages that technology has helped with:
- Removes barriers by utilizing technology patients already are using
- Focuses on a patient-centered online experience for the best end-user experience
- Streamlines complex, layered processes to alleviate front-office administrative tasks
- Improves patient experience and satisfaction through surveys and feedback forms
And, although three-quarters of healthcare organizations believe they make it easy for patients to connect with them, just over half of patients agree. That leaves an attainable gap that providers can work to fill for engaging patients between office visits using engagement platforms.
What is a Patient Engagement Platform, and Why Does it Matter?
A Patient engagement platform (PEP) is a digital tool that allows patients to connect with healthcare organizations directly through their mobile device, tablet or computer. PEPs encourage interactions outside of doctor’s offices by lowering accessibility thresholds with devices patients already use. In addition, PEPs streamline processes for self-scheduling upcoming visits, sharing patient educational materials, delivering test results, asking for feedback through surveys and much more.
In today’s world, patients are using digital technology more than ever. Last year, a BMC Health Services Research report pointed to 97 percent of patients using a mobile device as part of their day-to-day tasks, and 82 percent utilizing it as their primary tool for managing their health. This allows healthcare organizations to integrate patient engagement platforms that sync with health management preferences.
However, alongside a growing use of technology is cybercrime and HIPAA violations. This past year saw a massive $5,982,150 HIPAA fines, the second-highest since the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) started enforcing compliance. This increases the importance of needing a patient engagement platform built around protecting sensitive patient data through HIPAA compliance. Unfortunately, not all patient engagement platforms offer this, so it’s important to note which ones do.
What to Consider for a Patient Engagement Platform
Patient engagement success depends on reliable engagement platforms built around your specific health system needs. Your platform should be easily scalable and HIPAA-compliant to ensure your patients’ data stays safe.
Top Seven Capabilities Every Patient Engagement Program Should Feature:
- Interactive, real-time communication: The ability of a patient to directly connect with their healthcare organization cannot be overstated. Patient engagement platforms should include secure bi-directional text messaging for hosting real-time communications, chatbots for answering frequently asked questions around the clock and patient satisfaction scoring for generating positive reviews.
- Appointment reminders: Patient engagement solutions can help improve front-end office efficiency by leveraging automated appointment reminders. Secure patient communications can free up your staff to deliver better patient care. Automate messages to facilitate contactless check-in, fill cancellation slots, increase scheduling capacity and maximize front office efficiency. For example, by using this technology, Adelante Healthcare, an FQHC in Phoenix, AZ, improved medical and dental practice no-show rates by 35 and 40 percent respectively.
- Automated laboratory results: Patient engagement programs can reduce time on the phone by 75 percent using automated lab results. Patients can be alerted of test results as soon as they are signed off, provided a tracking status to see real-time updates, and, when available, securely display their results electronically. Adding an automated results feature for patients needing follow-up care can increase appointment scheduling by 30 percent.
- EMR integration: Two-way engagement integrations with your existing EMR system can save countless hours. How? By reducing duplicate data entry due to patient responses being viewed directly in your practice management system. You’ll want to look for a solution that includes patient engagement technology interactions with your specific EMR.
- Platform customization: Patients are becoming increasingly used to technology that is customized and tailored to their individual preferences. Patient engagement systems should include personal touches that speak to each patient individually. This could include the ability to customize the content of secure messaging and voicemails, language preferences, visit status and physician and appointment details.
- Employee adoption: With healthcare workforce shortages expected to continue for the next two years, it’s more important than ever to utilize technology to fill gaps. Seven states are seeing critical shortages in more than 25 percent of their hospitals, and it’s being predicted that the United States will lack 3.2 healthcare workers a mere four years from now. Encourage employee adoption of patient portals by planning group and one-on-one training sessions. Include hands-on practice for using the portal and time for questions and brainstorming portal enrollment methods for easy adoption.
- Portal enrollment: Encourage adoption through patient outreach teachable moments in waiting rooms, print and digital literature and word-of-mouth with consistent brand messaging from your organization. Generally, patient portals tend not to be patient-friendly. You may want to add some language to ensure your patient portal is easy to use. Speak to the benefits of enrollment, including easy access to filling out new patient forms virtually, accessing health records easily, consuming educational resources wherever they are and connecting with their providers while keeping their information secure with HIPAA-compliant software.
Why Providertech Offers the Best Patient Engagement Solution
Providertech offers streamlined communications between visits with an intuitive patient engagement system like no other.
- Secure, HIPAA-compliant two-way text messaging tools
- Automated appointment reminders
- Patient satisfaction software
- EMR integrations with Allscripts, Athenahealth, Centricity, Cerner, Epic, Meditech, NextGen, and Virence
Talk with our solutions team to understand how their solution will enhance your patient engagement.