February 15, 2019

What Is Patient Engagement?

patient engagement

Before we get to strategies for improving patient engagement, let’s start with a definition:

Patient engagement is an all-encompassing healthcare service model that prioritizes effective communication with patients so that they are more knowledgeable and accountable for their own health.

The best result from great patient engagement is that every patient is more conscious and proactive about their well-being because of better engagement with their provider.

This definition comes from combining interpretations of patient engagement offered by groups like Medfusion, NEJM Catalyst, and Evariant and a study from Columbia University.

3 Ways to Improve Patient Engagement

Integrating patient engagement into the overall patient experience continues to rise in popularity, but there hasn’t been a consensus on a single method that leads to top-notch patient engagement.

However, we might have a solution. Based on our research, we found that patient engagement requires three things:

  1. Easily accessible information
  2. Improved patient/provider relationship with better communication
  3. A personalized approach for each patient

1. Better Patient Engagement through Easily Accessible Information

Research from Ambra Health revealed that today’s patients want more access to their health information. Specifically, 73 percent of healthcare consumers want their medical data accessible through a website or mobile device. Furthermore, 80 percent of millennials consider medical record access as a major factor when selecting a healthcare provider.

Having medical information that is easily accessible can lead to improved health literacy, which impacts a person’s health decisions based on their ability to obtain and understand the health information available to them.

In some cases, easily accessible information can also reduce hospital readmissions, which costs patients an average of $14,400.

A study from Florida International University specifically focused on patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) because of its high readmission rates. The study found that hospitals participating in health information exchanges with AMI patients had a 1.35 percent decrease in the probability of readmission.

With medical information readily available, providers not only make their patients smarter; they also help patients save money by preventing unnecessary readmissions.

2. Improved Patient Engagement through a Better Patient/Provider Relationship

Patient engagement also comes from having a better relationship between a provider and their patient. This involves a combination of communication and exchange of information.

A survey from the Society for Participatory Medicine showed that 88 percent of patients believed that working in partnership with their provider helps improve their health.

In addition, communication also encourages patients to be more proactive and knowledgeable about their health. Nowadays, that communication takes a digital form. The same study showed that 84 percent of patients felt that sharing their self-tracked health data to providers between visits gives them a better sense of their health state.

This type of collaboration allows patients to have an open and honest conversation about their health and well-being outside of the usual confines of their provider’s office.

Providers also benefit from this open line of communication because it can help reduce unnecessary repeat visits and further establishes trust with both recurring and new patients.

3. Better Patient Engagement through a Personalized Approach

The final piece of the patient engagement puzzle is personalization. Patients want providers to provide advice and solutions that meet their needs.

However, only a small number (37 percent) of healthcare insurers are offering personalized wellness programs for patients according to a survey from Pega.

Personalized information can also help convince patients to live a healthier life. Data from Jones PR shows that 35 percent of patients want to get a better understanding on how to change their unhealthy behaviors and 31 percent want advice and tools so that they can “better manage their condition.”

Personalizing information for these patients establishes a healthcare group as an authoritative source, and it can also be the first step in improved communications and trust between patients and providers.

As a result, patients are willing to be more open when it comes to talking with healthcare professionals about their issues, which allows providers to present advice and treatment options that cater to the patient’s exact needs.

Better Patient Engagement = Better Reviews

Implementing these steps takes time, but it pays off in the long run through more positive reviews and an improved online reputation.

A 2018 survey on online reviews showed that a higher percentage in the likelihood that patients will leave a review after a positive experience so make sure you give them something to write about in their review.

Providing personalized information and solutions can be the catalyst for improved relations. Reviews are influential to 66.3 percent of consumers when choosing a new primary care physician, and reviews highlighting top-notch patient engagement can make their decisions much easier.

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