Often referred to as the “blockbuster drug of the century,” patient engagement is about involving patients in their own health care – keeping them updated and informed about treatment options, sharing knowledge, and ensuring a consistent dialogue throughout their healthcare journey. It is a broad term and includes anything that drives more interaction and communication between providers and patients.
Why is Patient Engagement Important?
Engaged patients typically experience better medical outcomes. This is because they make lifestyle changes and adjust behaviors in support of their treatment plans. And when patients play an active role, providers can achieve their triple aim of reduced costs, better medical outcomes, and improved patient experience.
Though patient portals play an integral role in improving the patient-provider relationship, there’s still a considerable gap. This is mainly because the portals typically do not always serve the needs of patients, especially those requiring complex care. Portals are designed to enable patients to access their health records and conduct basic administrative interactions, but they do not drive engagement. This gap is leading healthcare practices to explore additional patient engagement solutions and other strategies to supplement patient portals and create holistic, seamless experiences for patients. No doubt, 90% of healthcare facilities are looking to invest in patient engagement solutions, according to a report.
How Do You Engage with Patients?
Here are ten strategies to help you boost patient engagement in your healthcare practice.
- Launch Wellness Campaigns: Consider creating both short and long-term wellness campaigns to increase patient engagement. For instance, launch a campaign that suggests daily, weekly, or monthly exercise and nutrition regimens to help reduce hypertension or lower cholesterol. You can promote these campaigns through your website and social media pages, providing additional links to valuable resources.
- Make your website engaging: Make sure your website is both mobile-friendly and user-friendly, so patients can find you and interact with you on the go. You can offer FAQs, useful links, details about how your unique services can help people manage their health conditions. Your website can direct your patients to book appointments online, which will offer a seamless experience for busy patients. You can integrate your social media profiles within your website to amplify your messaging and engage with patients in more dynamic ways.
- Use chatbots: A lot of medical practices and hospitals are using chatbots on their websites to engage with patients successfully. These chatbots interact with patients – both existing and potential – to help them find the right doctors, schedule appointments, or get access to the best treatment options. Chatbots are increasingly being used in the healthcare industry to lower patient service costs and enhance patient engagement. In fact, according to a report, the global healthcare industry is expected to save $3.6 billion by 2022 just by using chatbots.
- Leverage social networks:Social networks offer medical practices the opportunity to impact the health outcomes of patients outside the clinical settings. But this kind of impact requires more than just retweeting or sharing content. You will need to create and share original content to start the online health conversation with your target audience. You can host webinars, share FAQs, create compelling infographics to convert your messages, and use storytelling to communicate your messages to your target audience.
- Focus on patient education:Informed patients are engaged patients. Ensuring patients’ active participation in their healthcare relies heavily on patient education. When patients know every detail about their illness and treatment options, they are in a better position to make the right choices. It is the providers’ responsibility to provide informative material as well as step-by-step guidance to keep patients informed and engaged. The idea is to understand the preferences of your patients and enable them to make a decision that matches that preference.
- Create and share video content:What makes video such an impactful medium for patient engagement? Because videos inform, educate, and help create an impression of your brand. For instance, if you are a dentist or a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon, before-and-after videos are a fantastic way to show your expertise. Such videos will not only engage your target audience but will also help you attract many new patients.
- Don’t rush through appointments:Spend quality time with your patients and listen to their concerns. Make them feel comfortable during consultations. Don’t make patients repeat the same information over and over. Making eye contact with patients will indicate that you are paying attention and are focused on the patient. Having empathy will allow you to connect with patients on a level that makes them feel heard and cared for.
- Be accessible:Patients are often disappointed by the inability to communicate with their physicians between appointments. According to a report, it is important for 87% of patients to be able to communicate directly with their doctors outside of an appointment. Opening direct lines of communication between patient and provider will help increase patient engagement, and eventually, patient satisfaction.
- Obtainpatient feedback:One of the most frustrating situations patients often run into is having a below-expectation experience with a provider but never getting the chance to discuss it with the concerned person. Unless you talk to patients, you will always assume that everything is fine while your patients will be searching for a new provider. Keep the communication channels open, always follow-up with patients after appointments, and allow them to voice their concerns either in the office or after they leave.
- Empower your staff: Your staff has a critical role in patient-centric care and improving patient engagement levels. Well-trained employees will provide better care as they feel more empowered in their work. You can consider creating an employee committee to allow your staff to collaborate to provide quality care and improve patient engagement. Train your staff to handle negative feedback from patients with an apology and incorporate that feedback into operations.
With an increasing number of patients taking control of their healthcare, providers are looking for reliable ways to offer meaningful choices for in-person care, virtual care, and a combination of both. By effectively engaging patients, providers can empower them and earn the loyalty needed to become the provider of choice.