Tips on how to engage your patients

Patient engagement has always been considered a desirable feature of physician practices and healthcare organizations. Today, it’s become vital to business success in the delivery of care. In fact, the elements of a robust patient engagement strategy are among the required objectives of a Stage 2 meaningful use program.

The benefits

A practice that implements a patient engagement strategy will improve the care experience of its patients, who will likely pay more attention and follow directives. Engaged patients maintain a stronger attachment to their medical practices, and experience greater value, trust and quality in their care.

Focusing on patient engagement improves efficiency, reduces out-migration and can reduce the costs of care. Patients who are actively involved in their healthcare can achieve better outcomes and even have lower per capita costs than patients who are less engaged.

The concept

Patient engagement occurs at the interface between the practice and its patients. It involves both parties collaborating on record keeping, care plans, health tracking, appointments, preventive care, decision making, patient-focused education and medication management.

Also incorporated in patient engagement is the ability and willingness of patients to manage their own healthcare, as well as a practice culture that prioritizes and supports patient engagement. A true partnership between patients and providers to manage health outcomes is the ultimate objective.

The strategy

To create your strategy, define an idealized future state of patient engagement for the practice and compare this to where the practice is today. Then, identify any gaps that must be closed. This strategy should be tailored to individual specialties and departments, and to particular staff members and care teams.

Next, build a practice culture that embraces patient engagement. Implement engagement-friendly technologies, with patient portals being the best example. The portal solution should connect to the practice’s Electronic Health Record, billing and practice management systems. It serves as an integrated, multifeatured patient communications platform that offers live operator support; automated phone, text and e-mail reminders for bills and appointments; and medication schedule alerts.

Promote the portal to existing patients and during orientation for new patients. Explain its benefits clearly, and provide incentives for using it.

A great team

Naturally, it’s critical that you use regular patient input (such as short surveys and focus groups) to help shape engagement efforts. Over time, you should find that you and your patients make a great team.
© 2016 Edelstein & Company LLP. All Rights Reserved.
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