Healthcare is derived from two words, health and care and it means to take care of the health of the ill or patient. The path followed by a healthcare team can become very easy with patient engagement. Patient engagement means the willingness of the patient to participate in the process of being healthy. It may include anything from communicating with patients to the use of online patient portals to engage patients for their betterment.
It has been constantly found in various researches that patients who engage with their health care providers exhibit much better clinical outcomes. Moreover the health care organization that engages its patients also shows improved productivity and patient satisfaction. So for this mutually beneficial experience, hospitals can successfully engage their patients by following these five steps:
Define vision: First and foremost it is very important for a hospital or healthcare organization to define its vision for patient engagement. It means to understand where the organization is and where it wants to be in terms of patient engagement. A thorough discussion between senior leadership, board, staff, patients and their families should define the vision. In addition to definition, an end stage of it should also be established. This needs to be created for different specialties, departments or practices. Resources like time and staff planning, a patient portal and other patient communication services will be required to support the vision of patient engagement. But it is most important to take inputs from the working staff including physicians, nurses, technicians, and administrators before selecting and implementing any new technology. The new technology should be able to meet the requirements of the staff and reduce their workload.
Implement the vision: Next, the patient engagement vision needs to be implemented. The patients, staff and providers should be clearly communicated about the need and benefits of patient engagement and the change it would bring with it.
Employ the right technology and services: Implementation of the vision requires the deployment of right technology and services. Most commonly used technology-enabled solution is patient portals. While choosing a patient portal, hospital should look for a solution that can be seamlessly connected to their EHR, billing and practice management systems. It will not only enhance the communication between patient and provider but will also enable the patients to check his test results, refill prescriptions, review medical record, and view education materials. It can also be of great help to the administrator staff as it can streamline administrative tasks such as registration, scheduling appointments, and patient reminders. All these advantages can foster better patient retention and loyalty in the face of increasing competition.
Evaluate progress: Evaluation of the system is very important to track the progress and do necessary changes. This can be achieved by monitoring how many patients have signed up to use the patient portal, how many emails have been collected, etc. Moreover to encourage continued success, a reward system should be established for providers and staff. This could reward a team or person based on goals reached.
Be ready to change and adapt: Every patient engagement strategy and solution should be flexible enough to accommodate inevitable changes. It should be able to accommodate the changes required for the success of patient engagement. Cloud-based solutions can roll out changes and updates to everyone on the network simultaneously. So opting for these kinds of solutions from the SMEs of technology can offer best outcomes and enhanced patient engagement and satisfaction.
Benefits of patient engagement
- Improved healthcare delivery
- Better patient experience
- Increased revenue
- Increased number of patients per day
- Decreased monotonous tasks
Although it may sound to be quite simple to engage patients in their healthcare but actually it is very complicated procedure that can only be achieved successfully if technology is introduced at the right time and at right place. This has now become the need of the hour and like every other stream, healthcare also needs to walk with technology for improved outcomes.