In healthcare, providers’ strategy to contain costs and enhance quality, value-based care is an essential component. And, as healthcare shifts from fee-for-service to value-based care, the demand for patient engagement has never been greater. In fact, more than half of healthcare chief information officers (CIOs) report that patient engagement technology is a top priority.

How do healthcare providers benefit by engaging their patients? For one, it lowers costs due to increased reimbursement, which is especially important as healthcare organizations attempt to reach pre-COVID-19 pandemic patient volume and revenue flow. It also aids in improved operational efficiency and boosts population health and value-based care initiatives.  

Patients who are engaged with their provider(s) often better understand their health concerns, ask questions that matter to them, know how to access their medical records and are usually confident in weighing their options for care. They’re generally better able to monitor and discuss their symptoms and health experiences and are more likely to maintain treatment plans, track their health, and ask their providers meaningful questions. 

Studies prove that engaged patients result in lower costs and a higher quality of life. Patient engagement also is important for improved outcomes, as research has linked higher levels of it to the greater use of preventive care, less smoking and obesity, more positive rankings of relationships with providers, less delay in seeking care, greater awareness of treatment guidelines, improved clinical indicators and a reduced number of hospital and emergency visits and lower hospital readmission rates. 

As we discussed in a previous blog, healthcare providers can engage patients in value-based care by:

  • Improving the care experience from start to finish

Show you care by communicating with them in ways that are relevant and personalized to them.

  • Staying connected outside of the clinical setting

Being able to communicate and engage with them at every step of their journey through the care continuum increases the likelihood that they will follow through with recommended  care, thereby elevating outcomes and driving value-based healthcare at your practice.

  • Leveraging automated technology to scale engagement

By proactively engaging more patients, providers can increase the number of patients who adhere to care plans, track key metrics of their health and reach out to their doctor when they have questions. 

The Perks of Pharmacist/Physician Collaboration 

Although not always included in discussions about healthcare providers being engaged with their patients throughout the entire care journey, pharmacists play a valuable role in a patient’s health. More than 90 percent of people in the U.S. live within five miles of a community pharmacy, and patients visit these entities almost twice as often as they visit their physicians or other qualified health professionals.

Pharmacists in the community, hospital, ambulatory and managed care settings offer outreach or medication therapy management (MTM) services to prescribers and patients. They’re able to offer valuable services, including medication adherence checks, medication synchronization and other care interventions in addition to involvement in clinical preventive services, chronic disease state management and transitions of care. 

In collaboration with physicians, pharmacists aid in reducing costs and optimizing health outcomes. As a report from the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) notes in a peer-reviewed article published in the AMA Journal of Ethics, prioritizing value-based care principles and patient engagement outcomes will help integrate the pharmacist as a key member of the patient care team. 

Another perk resulting from pharmacists working with other members of a patient’s healthcare team is that they’re ideally positioned to address gaps in care. Pharmacists involved in transitions of care can help patients safely transition after a hospitalization and avoid inpatient readmissions or emergency department visits within 30 days of discharge by managing medications and providing patient education. Some studies have shown that pharmacist intervention was successful in deprescribing “risky” medications in almost 45 percent of enrolled patients within six months, compared to only 12 percent of patients where a pharmacist did not intervene. 

The previously-mentioned role of promoting medication adherence isn’t inconsequential. Although adherence rates of 80 percent or more are needed for optimal therapeutic efficacy, it is estimated that adherence to chronic medications is around 50 percent. Nonadherence can account for up to half of treatment failures, around 125,000 deaths and up to 25 percent of hospitalizations each year in the U.S.

Many health plans and employee-based programs are recognizing the value of engaging the pharmacist role in the healthcare continuum by utilizing pharmacist-led organizations to support patients in their medication management for improving chronic care conditions. These organizations also support patients through transitions, such as hospital discharge, where the risk of medication error is substantially increased.   

Interventions led by community pharmacists have been shown to improve medication adherence, meaning reduced costs for the healthcare system. Roughly $100-$300 billion in healthcare costs could be curtailed annually by addressing medication adherence. 

The Effect of Behavioral Economics in Healthcare 

Whether it be pharmacists or other healthcare providers, some are employing a new method for patient engagement: behavioral economics. 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 their decision-making is influenced by biases, heightened emotions, faulty heuristics, mental fatigue, loss aversion, choice overload, perceived social norms, situational framing and context.  

Check out our infographic on how behavioral economics is being utilized in healthcare.