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Why Patient Engagement is So Important to the Modern Healthcare Practice

December 17, 2018

If there is one term that most accurately defines healthcare best practices for 2018, it is “patient engagement.” For decades researchers have noted that engaging with patients is the key to superior care. Older patients nostalgically recall a time when family doctors all made house calls. Younger patients are flocking to practices that provide extended face time with doctors.

Patient engagement is a valuable key to success. Innovative technologies help to facilitate that interaction, while saving patients and providers time and money.

Engaged Patients Stay Healthier

Patient engagement doesn’t just mean service unilaterally directed toward patients by providers, either. Patients themselves are responsible for some of the most important aspects of their care and well-being. That requires them to engage with their healthcare in a proactive way, and to manage their health with expert guidance and attentive support from healthcare practitioners.

Data confirms that those who are actively engaged in their own health outcomes reap invaluable benefits. Those include financial ones, because patients who aren’t engaged in that way can pay up to 21 percent more for healthcare. That’s almost like adding a 20 cent tax on every dollar they earn, simply because they aren’t sufficiently engaged when it comes to their health.

Ways to Increase Engagement

Patients should be encouraged to ask questions about their health and care, and providers need to give them clear, complete answers. One way to do that is through digital resources such as patient FAQ portals, downloadable educational materials, and professionally-written health blogs. Ensure that patients and caregivers understand applicable physician guidelines, recovery or rehabilitation protocols, and prescribed medications.

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Technology is an Engagement Enabler

Technological approaches to patient engagement can play a dynamic role throughout the process. In the pre-appointment stage, patients want scheduling of appointments to be fast and easy, and to preferably be done online. Appointment reminders can be automated, to help patients manage their schedules while reducing no-shows. Many intake forms can be filled out online, rather than in the doctor’s office, and insurance eligibility and payment responsibility can also be confirmed in advance. That shortens wait times in the office, frees-up front office staff, and makes billing more transparent.

Improved Quality with Less Administrative Strain

After an appointment or medical procedure, following up to ensure a continuum of value-based care can be vital. That effort may also be supported by giving patients 24-hour convenient access to their records via a secure online portal. Patients who are fully informed in this way are 30 percent less likely to require readmission to a hospital or ER. A recent case study of patient engagement also found that leveraging appropriately designed technologies resulted in a 10 percent reduction in healthcare facility call center volume; a 20 percent increase in online payments by patients; and a 40 percent decrease in payments by paper check.

One of the most convincing reasons to transition to a digital format is that more than 70 percent of patients prefer to engage through secure online portals. The vast majority say they would even switch providers for an enhanced healthcare payment experience.