Consumers today crave convenience—we can buy our favorite products with a single click, get groceries delivered straight to our doorstep, and access any information at the drop of a hat.
The need for convenience has bled into the healthcare industry as well, and many practices are struggling to accommodate this growing demand. Patients are more selective when choosing a provider, and research shows that they can and will switch to another practice if they have a poor experience. Engaged patients are more likely to adhere to treatment plans and take ownership of their own healthcare. According to healthcare leaders, the three most effective patient engagement initiatives are:
- Increased clinician-patient time
- Shared decision-making
- Enhanced patient access to relevant services
These initiatives typically take place during an in-office visit; however, great patient engagement should extend beyond the four walls of a practice or hospital.
Here’s why, and here’s how to make it happen for your practice:
How Improving the Patient Experience Drives Growth
Providing an exceptional patient experience is more important now than ever before—not only because it leads to happier and healthier patients, but also because it has the potential to drive substantial growth. How, you ask?
Engaged patients tend to have much better outcomes and medication adherence. Now that provider reimbursements are contingent on quality performance as a result of the shift to value-based care, these metrics directly impact the bottom line. In other words, by improving patient engagement, you can improve your profitability and grow your practice.
Engaging with Patients Beyond the Office Visit
It’s clear why patient engagement remains a top priority for providers—but what proactive steps can practices take to ensure they are engaging and connecting with patients beyond their office visit?
Here are three effective ways to engage patients outside of your practice walls.1. Make the most of your patient portal.
Patient portal use is on the rise, and that momentum isn’t likely to slow down any time soon. Of surveyed patients, 72 percent had access to a patient portal in May 2019, up significantly (64 percent increase) compared to a similar study in 2016.
A patient portal with the right features helps to meet modern consumer expectations and drive increased engagement and retention. Patients can use a portal to access a myriad of convenient, self-service options, such as:
- Scheduling appointments
- Communicating with providers
- Confirming appointments
- Requesting prescription refills
- Filling out registration and intake forms
- View visit summaries
- Accessing flexible financial options
- Managing accounts for dependents
Along with offering these key features, a modern patient portal should have a user-friendly interface and be available via a mobile app and/or web browser.2. Be proactive about patient communications.
Communication is key in so many areas of our lives, and healthcare is no exception. To engage and retain patients, providers need to ensure active, open communication before, during, and after treatment. When patients engage with providers in shared decision-making, they’re much more likely to take ownership of their care and make healthier lifestyle choices.
Regular communication with patients in whatever method they prefer most—via a patient portal, text messages, email, phone, or even letter—will help drive both positive outcomes and engagement. And now with the rapid rise of telehealth in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual care follow-ups and screenings are also an excellent way to check in with patients outside of the office.3. Automate patient engagement initiatives.
Engaging patients doesn’t have to mean taking time away from your other daily responsibilities. With access to the right tools, you can fully automate certain patient engagement initiatives.
Between office visits, send automated surveys targeted to different populations you treat. These surveys can be based on an office visit, medication adherence, diagnosis and treatment, or whatever you decide. You can also deliver automated, meaningful engagement to provide guidance toward healthy decisions and behavior—which will in turn help you improve outcomes and work toward your population health and value-based care initiatives.
Of course, all of these initiatives have one thing in common: technology. Providers can engage and retain patients with access to an integrated engagement solution like the Healthy Outcomes suite. With touch points along the entire patient journey, Healthy Outcomes helps providers deliver orchestrated patient engagement—a must-have in today’s evolving healthcare landscape.