- Involving patients is important to achieve better treatment outcomes.
- Effective patient involvement begins with overcoming communication challenges.
- Healthcare professionals can take certain steps to encourage patient engagement and measure these activities.
- This article is for healthcare providers and administrators who want to achieve better patient outcomes by promoting patient engagement.
The way patients interact with their healthcare providers is changing, mainly due to the advent of medical software solutions and their ability to optimize secure communications between healthcare providers and patients. Not only can high levels of patient engagement improve health outcomes, but they can also keep the practice running smoothly; When patients are busy, their information is kept up-to-date, reducing the need for staff to ensure that the information is correct. This guide provides everything you need to know about patient engagement in modern healthcare.
What is patient loyalty?
Patient engagement is the process patients go through to proactively participate in their own health care and within the health system. The Center for Advancing Health supports this view by expanding the definition to include actions that individuals take to get the maximum benefit from a health care provider or health services. A study by Health Affairs deepens this definition by viewing patient engagement as patient activation, a process in which health organizations play an active role.
Specifically, the Health Affairs study states that patient activation – which they define as the underlying urgency to monitor and proactively take measures to manage holistic wellbeing – can also be seen as a push towards deeper involvement that only occurs when when a the person understands their importance in the process of their care. The same analysis also discusses the important role that accumulated health knowledge plays in trying to improve patient participation in the health system.
Top: The best medical software can help you improve patient engagement by introducing patient portals and secure messengers between patient and provider.
Why patient engagement is important
The trend in promoting patient engagement is pretty simple: active participation has the potential to improve patient outcomes and potentially extend life. However, research also shows that patient engagement can lower costs. The New England Healthcare Institute recently published a study that estimates potential savings in the US at over $ 290 billion.
When examining patient engagement, the focus is often on the actions healthcare professionals are taking to deepen patient engagement. However, effective patient involvement requires a major paradigm shift in the way healthcare professionals understand and approach the patient process and experience. Effective patient engagement involves reassessing the decision-making approach and general attitudes towards health systems, and includes a focus on simplification and communication in patient activation.
This approach highlights the significant challenges in achieving patient engagement and focusing on the issues that need to be overcome in order to achieve higher levels of proactivity. This approach also includes understanding that even after reaching a higher level of activity, there is a significant level of responsibility and risk for healthcare providers. Despite the challenges, there are steps organizations and health systems can take to alleviate the challenges of effective patient participation.
How can healthcare providers improve communication?
As health researchers Judith H. Hibbard and Jessica Greene noted in a recent study, “New evidence suggests that interventions that tailor support to individual activation levels and build skills and confidence are effective in increasing patient activation with the patient start at the lowest activation levels, tend to gain the most. ”
Their analysis concludes that strategies and interventions that aim to “empower patients’ roles in managing their health care can contribute to improved outcomes, and that patient activation can and should be measured as an intermediate outcome of care that is associated with associated with improved results ”.
That means meeting patients where they are in their healthcare journey rather than talking over their heads.
Simplified health information for patients
At the highest level, the two most damaging barriers to achieving patient engagement are the complexities and attitudes that healthcare professionals display in discussing and delivering care – including poor or inadequate communication. For example, studies by the National Institutes of Health show that patients and families are more complex than in previous years when it comes to treating symptoms, medications, and other health problems.
These tasks have often been performed by professionals during long hospital stays, and as a result, many patients and family members are often not prepared to cope with their current health situation. A national survey by the Center for Advancing Health found that 12% of respondents believed they could remain passive about their care, and nearly 30% lacked the basic facts and understanding of treatment needs. These studies indicate the need to educate and simplify patient treatments to the best of our knowledge and belief.
Doctors play an important role in discussing patient awareness and have a huge impact on patient health. To make the most of this ability, doctors need to convey to their patients that they are part of the decision-making process. This ensures that patients are not passive about their treatment.
Top: If possible, consider taking a patient through their medical record and explaining key sections in plain language.
Strategies to improve patient engagement
There are several key risk management strategies that improve patient engagement. Start patient engagement by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, not just with the patients themselves, but also with their family members. This is where the right attention for communication and time is established.
1. Educating patients about their health care.
Second, it is important for clinicians and physicians to understand that all patients need a better understanding of the information shared with them – especially when it comes to maintaining and improving their health. With this approach, it is important to use plain text and easy-to-read fonts in your documentation.
The third tool is to imagine where the patient is coming from and how they are feeling at the moment of care. Encourage patients to use the patient portal to view their lab results or send them additional information about their medication in their secure inbox. This could lead a patient to become more concerned with their health care.
Tools like patient portals and the following resources can help increase awareness, knowledge, and subsequent engagement.
- Health technology: Access to user-friendly electronic health records with patient apps and training drives interest and communication. The increased use of email promotes communication between patients and providers and can increase patient interest in treatments.
- Support from friends: Patients can feel overwhelmed when faced with health challenges. Establishing a support group provides additional information and support by connecting them with those who have firsthand experience of their condition. It is important to provide access to online and local personal support groups.
Top: Keeping a thorough record of your patient information will help you understand the most common issues affecting your patients.
2. Involve patients in decisions.
Aside from these two tools, another tip to improving patient engagement is to make sure doctors share the decision-making process. In decision-making, informed participation helps create a connection between patients and clinicians, and can help clinicians work on improving communication and other engagement tactics.
3. Use pictures and diagrams in communicating with patients.
With everybody Patient engagement tactics should be used by clinicians and healthcare professionals as last resort in the use of visual aids whenever possible. Whether it’s diagrams, images, images, or even videos, these tools can help make complex concepts easy to understand. Once these visual aids are used, especially in the decision-making process, patients can more easily collaborate with their family members and doctors to select the best treatment options.
Some medical software makes it incredibly easy to show patients visual images of their laboratory results or health trends over time, or simply include them on their chart for emphasis on noting. For a closer look at medical software that includes visual tools, check out our DrChrono review, our AdvancedMD review, and our Athenahealth review.
The upswing towards increasing patient involvement may sound pretty straightforward, but digging deeper shows the challenges that remain. Still, providers, healthcare professionals, and patients are happier with their health care when they all understand the risks and benefits of their treatment options and decisions. Using the tools and tactics mentioned can increase patient engagement and make patients feel that you understand their needs and preferences.