October 8, 2019
Ten Patient Engagement Strategies for Healthcare Stakeholders
Healthcare in the US has moved away from a fee-for-service model and is embracing value-based care largely driven by policies, regulations, and health care reform initiatives including the Affordable Care Act, and Meaningful Use. To maintain sustainability and remain competitive, healthcare stakeholders are developing and implementing new strategies to help them improve patient outcomes and the value and quality of the service they provide. Patient engagement, where providers and patients work together to improve health outcomes, is one such approach being embraced by healthcare stakeholders and has become integral to the success of healthcare organizations.
Here are 10 patient engagement strategies for healthcare stakeholders looking to improve the quality of care they offer:
1. Develop and implement patient engagement policies and procedures
Policies are necessary to demonstrate the commitment of the organization to patient engagement as well as to ensure that all staff and other stakeholders are aware that patient engagement is a focus of the organization. Specific procedures must be developed for all staff to follow to ensure that the policy is adhered to and the goal is achieved.
2. Develop a patient engagement framework
This framework should define the organization’s vision for patient engagement, stating clearly what the organization should look like when the patient engagement strategy is working. It will guide the organization in planning for, implementing and evaluating patient engagement activities across all departments and in all areas that can impact patient engagement. Some of these areas include; personal care and health decisions, organizational program or service design, delivery of service across the care continuum, and incorporating the patient’s family as well as other healthcare stakeholders into the process. Define the goals and expected outcomes for successful patient engagement at the individual level (patients and families), the healthcare team level, and the organizational level. The policies and procedures developed should form part of the patient engagement framework.
3. Create a culture of patient engagement
For any patient engagement strategy to be successful there must be buy-in from all stakeholders. Ensure that the organization creates a culture of patient engagement by involving staff, providers, and patients as much as possible in the creation of the patient engagement vision, policies and procedures, and framework. Creating a strong culture of patient engagement can support high quality health care.
4. Leveraging healthcare technology
Numerous healthcare technologies are available that can support patient engagement for healthcare organizations; implement the technologies that are right for your organization. Some of these technologies include:
- Patient portals
- Telephone calls/SMS/Email
- Social media
- Online appointment scheduling
- Mobile health applications
- Digital disease management solutions
- Patient engagement solutions
Employing the right technology and services is key to successful patient engagement.
When adopting healthcare technologies, it is best to implement cloud-based services and software. You must also ensure that solutions are compliant with the different healthcare regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Meaningful Use mandates.
5. Educating patients and healthcare providers
Educating both patients and healthcare providers is fundamental to the success of any patient engagement strategy. Educational interventions for patients can focus on areas such as preventative health; safety improvement (including medication management); and managing their conditions, especially for those with chronic illnesses. It can take different formats such as holding educational sessions (including food demonstrations) in a hospital, clinic, or the community; pamphlets; brochures; YouTube videos; videos playing in waiting rooms; information on the organization’s website; and sending text messages with information such as medication safety reminders.
Healthcare providers need to be educated on the importance of the role of the patient in their own care and how to engage with patients. Educate providers to use lay language to communicate with patients instead of medical jargon, have open discussions on patient engagement, and include patient engagement in teaching sessions and workshops.
6. Touch points during patient visits
Look for opportunities to engage the patient when they visit the organization. There are many touch points that can be leveraged to engage the patient and improve their experience and satisfaction. Some touch points in a typical primary care setting and how they can be utilized for patient engagement include:
- Waiting room – TV, print materials, posters
- Reception area – receptionist (at check-in and check-out), computer kiosk, follow-up email and correspondence
- Nurse’s examination room – nurse
- Doctor’s examination room – doctor, posters, print materials
7. Incentives and rewards
Try to engage patients by offering incentives and rewards for active involvement in their healthcare. This can include providing discounts or entries into a raffle for meeting health outcomes set between the provider and the patient such as lower blood pressure or reduced Body Mass Index (BMI). The organization can partner with local gyms to offer a discount on membership to its patients.
8. Engage the patient as part of the healthcare team
Patients will feel more engaged and empowered when they are actively involved in the decision-making surrounding their healthcare. Interact with and enable patients to become involved through methods such as making online payments, viewing test results, scheduling appointments online, requesting prescription refills, and utilizing patient-generated health data.
Healthcare organizations can engage patients in planning committees, patient and public engagement groups, patient advisory committees or in prospective surveys to encourage change.WHO Report
9. Empower caregivers
According to an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) report of 2015, 43.5 million adults in the US had acted as unpaid caregiver to a child or adult in the previous 12 months. With so many persons functioning as caregivers, a good patient engagement strategy must incorporate the caregivers as well. Caregivers play an active role in the healthcare of patients, so empowered with the right education and provided with the proper tools and support, caregivers can have a significant positive impact on the success of any patient engagement strategy.
10. Measure progress and make changes
To ensure the organization’s patient engagement strategy is successful and sustained, it must be continuously measured, and changes made where necessary. Gather feedback from patients, their families, staff, and other healthcare stakeholders who have an impact on the strategy. Conduct surveys and assessments and use all results and feedback to revise and revamp the strategy. Remove what is not working and implement new viable suggestions.
If you are looking to develop or enhance the patient engagement strategies in your healthcare organization and seeking dedicated software tools for improving the care you deliver, Acuma Health’s Digital Disease Management Solution may be right for you.