The Hidden Cost of Poor Patient Engagement in Healthcare

July 21, 2020 | By Wendy Bartlett

Patient Engagement in healthcare

When you’re thinking about improving patient engagement, it’s easy to hone in on the effect it will have on your own practice alone. The benefits speak for themselves: If you do it well, you’ll get more business, retain more patients, and remain more profitable.

On the other hand, if you don’t do it well and patients remain disengaged, they’re likely to find other providers for their healthcare needs—not to mention they might leave you negative reviews, which can damage your practice’s reputation and cause you to lose revenue in the process.

However, patient engagement has the potential to affect much more than just your practice. It can also drastically improve the quality of healthcare throughout the country. Plus, poor patient engagement comes at a price—and it can be costly in more ways than one. Here’s how:

Low Medication Adherence

When patients are disengaged and unwilling to play an active role in their care, they’re much less likely to comply with their physician’s recommendations and adhere to prescribed treatment plans. Despite the fact that medication adherence, or taking medications correctly, is a top priority for healthcare providers, lack of patient compliance remains a significant problem. 

Medication nonadherence is estimated to affect as many as 40-50 percent of patients who are prescribed medications for the management of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension—and not surprisingly, this comes at a high cost. Nonadherence to prescribed treatments causes at least 100,000 preventable deaths and $100 billion in unnecessary medical costs per year. 

[Infographic] See the impact that engaged patients and disengaged patients have  on your practice.

Rising Healthcare Costs

In 2018, the U.S. spent about $3.6 trillion on healthcare, or an average of $11,000 per person. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) project that by 2028, healthcare costs will rise to $6.2 trillion, or $18,000 per person. The U.S. has the most expensive healthcare system among developed countries, with double the annual spending seen in Canada and many parts of Europe. 

Lack of patient engagement and involvement in their own care decisions plays a big role in the rising cost of healthcare. Because health insurance is primarily provided by employers, in past years, consumers have been sheltered from the costs associated with medical care. However, recently the cost of healthcare has become a major talking point, with an increasing number of consumers demanding transparency. This consumerism is often due to the rise in high-deductible health plans that result in patients paying more out of their own pocket.

As a result, patients today are getting more involved. A Deloitte survey revealed that the number of consumers looking up cost information has nearly doubled in recent years. They want to know treatment costs in advance, and they expect access to digital payment options. In addition, modern healthcare consumers look for flexible payment options to pay medical bills that exceed their budgets.

Poor Health Outcomes

It should come as no surprise that poor patient engagement has a direct impact on health outcomes. When patients are not directly involved in shared decision-making regarding their care, there are certainly negative repercussions. Poor patient engagement can lead to higher mortality rates, increased complications, hospital readmissions, and infections. This is obviously less than ideal, both for the patients impacted and for providers working toward value-based care and population health initiatives.

Increasing Patient Engagement in Healthcare with the Right Tools

The cost of poor patient engagement is certainly daunting—but with the right tools in your toolbox, you can make great strides in increasing engagement. A big part of driving increased patient engagement is adapting to the ever-evolving needs of the modern healthcare consumer. 

According to a Deloitte survey, today’s healthcare consumers want access to digital tools that are convenient, flexible, and user-friendly. To meet this growing demand, healthcare practices need to adapt and engage with patients via the same communication channels they’re already familiar with. Doing so can go a long way in engaging, satisfying, and ultimately retaining your patients. 

With easy access to tools for scheduling appointments, messaging providers, accessing test results, requesting prescription refills, and more, patients are much more likely to take ownership of their healthcare. A recent survey found that the six tools that have the greatest impact on patient engagement include:

  • Patient portals
  • Automated appointment reminders
  • Check-in technologies
  • Telehealth visits
  • Digital payment options
  • Data analytics

A patient engagement platform, like InteliChart’s Healthy Outcomes solutions suite, offers each of these features within one platform. With multiple methods for engaging patients, Healthy Outcomes empowers practices to give consumers what they want and need on their own terms. This ultimately results in orchestrated patient engagement, or everything you and your patients need within one comprehensive, brand-consistent platform.

If you’re looking for ways to increase patient engagement, you’re in the right place. Schedule a demo to see firsthand how Healthy Outcomes can help you realize game-changing success.

Why Patient Engagement Requires a Platform