5 Ways to Elevate Patient Engagement

Blog Posts  |  10 July 2024

Written by: Kim Franks, Vice President & General Manager, Consumer, Veradigm

Improving patient engagement is essential to managing a more successful healthcare practice and provides the opportunity to obtain better health outcomes for patients. Healthcare providers recognize its value by investing in technology to support patients as collaborators in their own care. Here, we’ll cover practical steps for enhancing patient engagement in your practice, from integrating mobile communication tools to gathering and implementing patient feedback.

Why Practices Should Prioritize Patient Engagement

A great example of improving patient health outcomes via patient engagement is a study on the effectiveness of the chronic care model (CCM) for diabetes management. The CCM includes proactive care, self-management, decision support, and more. Researchers found that patients with type 2 diabetes enrolled in a CCM program had significantly greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk, microvascular complications, mortality, specialist care, emergency care, and hospitalizations.

Not only does better patient engagement lower the overall cost of care, but it also increases patient satisfaction and retention. Patients are more likely to return to practices where they feel empowered and respected and can easily access quality care. Positive patient experiences also have a direct impact on the profitability of healthcare organizations.

The Emerging Role of Technology in Patient Engagement

Patient engagement has a profound effect on a practice’s performance and profitability. In the past, patient engagement strategies focused on the patient-provider role. Today, the focus has broadened to include technology as an advantage in improving patient care.

Healthcare leaders increasingly recognize technology’s role in patient engagement and are working to implement software in their practices. According to a survey of members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, 77% are investing in enhanced portals and mobile apps to engage patients better. Also, a 2023 Medical Group Management Association poll found that patient communication technology is the second-highest priority for medical group leaders, following electronic health record (EHR) usability.

However, incorporating new software separately from existing systems can burden busy healthcare providers, practice staff, and patients. Practices must also balance using technology as a tool to make care more efficient without removing the human element of empathy from care.

Tips for Improving Patient Engagement

Envision the Ideal Patient Experience for Your Practice

The steps you take to increase patient engagement will depend on your practice’s specific needs and goals. Starting with an internal inventory can help you move in the right direction. First, consider what your patient experience currently looks like. What do you do right? What could be improved? What have staff and patients said about the patient experience?

Then, consider what you want the ideal patient experience to be. How would it look when patients first contact the office or come in for their first visit? How about follow-up and scheduling future visits? Feel free to dream big here.

Many practices have already spent time thinking about this. However, as practices grow and change, how patients move through the practice also changes. Regular internal check-ups on patient engagement status and goals can help practices ensure they are on the right track.

Simplify Care Delivery with Technology

The idea that technology simplifies tasks is not new, and many practices have already spent time incorporating technology into their workflows. However, periodically checking in on how well your system streamlines care is worth doing. Are the tools you use for improving patient engagement and are lessening burdens on staff? Are there other tools you can consider to simplify care delivery further?

Texting is one tool that provides convenience for both patients and front-of-office staff. Practice staff can securely send appointment confirmations and reminders directly to patients’ messaging inboxes instead of through the mail or via email. Patients can also view post-care summaries and pay bills online.

Technology like texting is no longer a barrier to care for older generations. Research by the Pew Center has found that the gap between technology adoption in older and younger adults has shrunk in the last decade. This trend could be due to technology becoming more user-friendly and an uptick in use among seniors during the pandemic.

Telehealth can also make it easier for clinics to care for patients, especially for older or more vulnerable populations who may experience more barriers to in-person visits. Email or video appointments can also be an additional revenue stream for practices. The American Medical Association recently established new codes to help physicians bill payers for virtual visits and electronic check-ins.

Patients can also use online portals on their personal devices to message providers, refill prescriptions, and schedule virtual or in-person office visits. Not only does this empower patients to take a more active role in their healthcare, but it also reduces the burden of administrative tasks on office staff.

Delegate and Automate Administrative Tasks

The current healthcare worker shortage is projected to continue to grow. The US National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA) estimates that the overall nursing shortage by 2036 will include 437,040 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. In many practices, both front desk staff and nurses collect and enter patient data, which adds time to each visit. Involving patients in updating their medical history through electronic check-ins takes some of the record-keeping burden off nurses, leaving them more time to connect with patients.

Automating administrative functions can help practices adapt to front desk staff shortages. For example, front desk staff can use tools within software platforms like Veradigm FollowMyHealth to communicate with patients instead of calling them. This allows staff to spend more time helping patients and less time on the phone confirming appointments, reminding patients about overdue appointments, relating office closure details, and more.

An essential part of automation is working with existing practice management and EHR systems. Automation will not reduce healthcare workers’ administrative burdens if they must navigate new systems or duplicate communications efforts across platforms. If you are considering automation, look for a single platform that covers all your practice’s technology needs.

Incorporate Educational Content

Patients crave educational content that can help them manage their health. A healthcare consumer survey cited by TechTarget found that 94% of patients would access patient education materials if provided the chance, 68% were more likely to return to a healthcare provider who gave them education materials. When patients understand their conditions and feel empowered to make educated choices about their own health, they can live healthier lives and manage their health conditions more effectively.

Practices can help promote patient education by encouraging physicians to recommend resources during in-person or virtual visits. Incorporating patient educational content into communication platforms helps patients access it easily and conveniently. Patient education material can also be sent before visits and after visits with information specific to each patient’s needs and concerns.

Gather Patient Feedback

Getting feedback directly from patients can help ensure your patient engagement strategy is on the right track. Although most practices understand the importance of patient feedback in improving patient engagement, actually getting feedback and implementing changes based on the responses can be challenging.

A simple way to routinely collect patient feedback in your practice is to incorporate software tools with automated survey functions. Patients can access surveys conveniently within a short timeframe of their visit. Ideally, surveys should include questions about the patient’s experience, satisfaction with their visit, and health outcomes. Practices should be prepared to handle negative feedback and improve the patient experience where necessary.

How Veradigm FollowMyHealth Helps Engage Patients

Veradigm FollowMyHealth is a software platform with a suite of tools that can help practices improve patient engagement before, during, and after visits. The platform is mobile-first, meaning it is designed to be easy for patients to navigate on their personal devices. Features include:

  • Personal Health Record. Patients can use their personal devices to message physicians, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments, see lab results, and more.
  • Mobile Patient Experience. Texting capabilities support appointment reminders, mobile check-ins, waitlist updates, paying bills online, accessing post-care summaries, and completing satisfaction surveys.
  • Telehealth. Email and video capabilities help patients connect with providers virtually.
  • Language Translation Services. Translation tools help patients whose native language isn’t English discuss health issues with providers.
  • Remote Patient Monitoring. Capture patient data using wireless and wearable devices to help patients improve their health and initiate interventions if needed.

Watch how a practice has used Mobile Patient Experience and explore how Veradigm FollowMyHealth can help you elevate patient engagement at your practice.