Patient engagement simply means taking steps to increase your patients’ involvement in their healthcare. Connecting with your patients outside of face-to-face appointments is key to achieving positive health care outcomes and patient retainment. Additionally, the shift to value-based care, which centers around patient care quality, has made meaningful engagement even more essential.
Successful patient engagement requires a two-pronged approach. The first is providing patients with access to their health data and general healthcare education. The second is promoting sound and effective communication between you/your practice and the patient.
While the patient portal is the most common channel through which tech-savvy practices engage with their patients, there are other channels and platforms you can use to help with engagement. These include:
Access to healthcare data
- Wearables and patient monitoring tools: Wearables help patients monitor their health and participate more actively in their care plans. This, in turn, makes your face-to-face appointments more insightful and efficient. Ninety percent of patients are willing to share their wearable device data with their physicians. Fortunately, many health wearables and patient monitoring tools integrate with EHRs—making it easier to track the detailed data that wearables and patient monitoring tools provide about your patients’ health status. As a provider, having access to this information can also help you deliver more personalized care.
- Patient newsletters: Patient education is a form of patient engagement. Sending out educational email newsletters through integrated platforms like Kareo that offer this option - can be used to educate patients on specific health topics, conditions or procedures. You can also leverage national health observances by tailoring the newsletters you send out on those days/weeks/months to highlight certain health conditions. By keeping patients more informed and active in their healthcare journey, you're setting them up for optimal health outcomes.
- Mobile technology: Most younger patients prefer to use their mobile devices to do virtually all things. Become more mobile-optimized by giving your patients the ability to effortlessly send you direct messages, book appointments and view health records securely on their mobile phones and tablets.
- Auto-appointment reminders and re-care messages: Patients have busy lives and oftentimes can forget about appointments they’ve scheduled or need to schedule. Sending timely reminders helps patients stay on track with their care plans. It also shows that your practice is committed to their well-being.
- Patient surveys: Allowing patents to provide feedback on the care and general satisfaction your practice delivers is important. Patient surveys are organized ways of evaluating your practice’s performance while communicating to patients that you value their feedback. Surveys should be designed such that they measure patient satisfaction, and the data extracted from them can be used to improve communication and care quality.
- Patient broadcasts: Use patient broadcasts to provide patients real-time updates on wait times, delays and other information regarding your practice’s status that may require their immediate attention.
- Personalized messaging: Sending out personalized email/text messages like happy birthday greetings is an easy way to make patients feel special. You can do this through an integrated platform like Kareo that allows you to automate these messages. This feature is also integrated with your EHR, so you don’t have to input the birth dates manually.
- There is no blueprint for engaging patients. What’s important is that you know your audience and figure out what types of messaging work for them.
- Patient engagement is continuous and never-ending. The task of engaging and connecting with patients should always be prioritized in your practice's daily processes and plans for growth.
- Depending on how much time and staff resources are available to you, you can ask patients, either face-to-face or via email, what communication channels they prefer. You can then tailor your communications accordingly.
- Promote your engagement channels. Yes, you should have all these avenues available for patients to access their healthcare data, but you must communicate that they exist. You can do this by reminding patients during appointments to check their emails for your practice’s newsletter. You can instruct your staff to inform patients that they can check waiting times and possible delays online before coming in and let patients know they can book appointments directly from their mobile phones.
- Analyze the data. Tracking your patient engagement efforts and measuring their effectiveness is essential to optimizing it. Platforms like Kareo that integrate your engagement efforts with your EHR and billing, can help you pinpoint which patients need what information and when.
For more details on how the Kareo integrated platform helps practices with their patient engagement efforts, click here. For information on how to manage your online brand and attract new patients to your practice, join us for our October 22 webinar at 10 a.m. on Consumerism in Healthcare – How Will Your Practice Stand Out. Click here to register.