Often, patient engagement can become an overarching umbrella term. After all, population health, behavioral economics and patient literacy are all drivers of effective engagement and thus often used interchangeably.  But, to create an effective patient engagement strategy, providers should thoroughly understand the four facets involved. In this blog, we’re unpacking what patient engagement is, your top questions for building a strategy and the four main components for getting started. 

What is a patient engagement strategy?

Patient engagement has been defined as an active collaboration between patients and providers to design, manage and achieve positive health outcomes. It’s the process of encouraging patients to make informed decisions for their well-being. Engaged patients, also called ‘activated patients,’ who choose to engage in positive behavior, like responsibly managing their health and care, enjoy better health outcomes and lower overall costs.

An engagement strategy works to engage patients beyond the office by providing more touchpoints and self-monitoring opportunities. These, in turn, enhance patients’ understanding of their care continuum and boost treatment success rates.

Why is patient engagement important?

Nowadays, many patients have become more mindful of their healthcare options. They think about their own health the same way they do about making major purchases like automobiles or saving for retirement. As a result, health literacy has improved tremendously, and patients want to make their own informed decisions alongside their team of providers. 

This collaborative approach with healthcare providers builds trust-based relationships with patients, enabling them to stay invested in their health. As a result, engaged patients are three times less likely to have unmet medical needs and twice as likely to avoid delaying care.

What are the benefits of patient engagement?

Patient engagement strategies can benefit healthcare organizations in many ways:

  • Better knowledge and understanding motivate patients to actively engage in their health, well-being and healthcare decisions. Patient education can lead to improved care and fewer visits to the emergency room.
  • Patient engagement helps increase healthcare revenue by reducing no-shows and allowing healthcare organizations to better manage their patient base.
  • Collaborating with engaged patients helps both parties make improved decisions regarding one’s health, improving their relationship and increasing patient retention.
  • Doctors and other healthcare professionals can provide patients with the best care, thereby improving efficiency and reducing costs.

What are the challenges in improving patient engagement?

Many barriers hinder patient education, which can affect patient outcomes. On one hand, patients tend to be hesitant to make decisions due to a lack of health literacy. On the other hand, some don’t have the digital access required to make better healthcare decisions. There are also instances wherein people are less likely to become engaged patients because of social determinants of health (SDOH), including education, age and religious or cultural beliefs. Healthcare professionals should be mindful of these factors when developing patient engagement strategies and helping patients improve their confidence in making healthcare-related decisions.

Sometimes, there are also challenges from the provider side. For example, traditional healthcare institutions are not set up for patient engagement, primarily because of a lack of access to advantaged technology. Moreover, physicians may not have the capacity or training to engage patients properly, leading to suboptimal health outcomes and non-compliance with recommended care. 

Which effective patient engagement strategies can healthcare organizations implement?

Personalized Interactions

Today’s customers expect all types of businesses – including healthcare establishments – to have a good understanding of their needs and desires. Thus, personalization is vital in healthcare. 

Your engagement strategy will be ineffective if you don’t know your patients’ preferences. Manually tailoring messages for each patient would be inefficient and nearly impossible, but today’s technology is helping health organizations address disparities in care by targeting specific populations at scale. 

Through customer journey maps and marketing technology, it’s become easier for healthcare providers to efficiently develop deeply personalized engagement plans to cater to each patient. As a result, healthcare providers can send the best message at the perfect time to the right people.

At Providertech, we offer scalable outreach platforms that use automated workflows to send text messages The result is improved outcomes and enhanced patient engagement. Schedule a demo with us to learn more!

Technology Integration

Patient data can be gathered from electronic health records (EHRs) and healthcare customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. The information collected is presented, organized and analyzed systematically to provide a better picture of what can be expected from a particular patient. These technologies work together to generate a holistic patient view, providing healthcare organizations with the needed insight to effectively deliver patient engagement efforts.

An outreach automation tool is also required because it systemizes outreach to formulate a continuous patient engagement journey. Healthcare providers can execute structured patient engagement through  outreach automation with Providertech’s scalable population health solution, CareCommunity. CareCommunity automates and scales population health outreach to improve clinical health outcomes for every population your practice serves.

Healthcare organizations also should integrate their call center software with a platform to support and improve  patient engagement. An engagement center enables providers to have relevant and carefully-calculated individualized patient communications to increase patient engagement. Our real-time, secure text messaging streamlines patient communication with a secure, two-way texting solution. And, our exclusive all-in-one CareCommunity Platform helps formulate a robust patient engagement strategy for healthcare providers to proactively identify, execute and measure all engagement initiatives to deliver patient-centered healthcare.

Provider Inclusivity

A successful patient engagement strategy doesn’t involve just healthcare-specific outreach designed by marketers. Instead, physicians and their clinical team should influence  patient engagement strategies with each level of the organization in mind. Having these doctors along with clinical teams, care technicians, front-office staff and stakeholders on board with the patient engagement strategy is vital to producing excellent results, especially while clinician shortages are abounding.

Staying Engaged Through Aftercare

Patient engagement shouldn’t stop once a patient leaves your office. Aftercare is an essential part of any patient’s treatment plan. Unfortunately, many patients misunderstand, ignore or refuse to follow aftercare recommendations.

Many individuals tend to disregard aftercare recommendations when they are too complex or demanding. This lack of understanding and thus decreased adherence can lead to poor health outcomes, hospital readmissions and, in worst-case scenarios, death.

Patient engagement is essential to ensure that patients follow their post-visit instructions diligently. This proactive approach also improves trust between patients and their providers.

Aftercare patient engagement can include medication adherence, follow-up on possible complications and patient reminders. These reminders improve patient engagement and lower costs in the long run.

At Providertech, our CareCommunity Platform modernizes care and transforms patient engagement to support improved outcomes. Providertech’s clinical team can help you create a customized outreach strategy to support your patients by navigating them along their healthcare continuum, enhancing patient engagement goals with improved access to their clinical support teams using secure, real-time HIPAA-compliant texting, streamlined appointment settings and cancellations, contactless check-ins, and electronic test results delivery. 

Schedule a demo of the CareCommunity Platform to see how to enhance your patient engagement.