Patient engagement — involving your patients in their healthcare through education, information, and shared decision making — has a lot of potential for improving your outcome indicators and reducing costs. As a healthcare provider, you have a number of opportunities to achieve these positive results with your patients before, during, and after the appointment. Utilizing patient engagement technology, like chronic care management platforms and patient portal adoption, are the most common tools to help providers optimize patient engagement. With these technologies, healthcare providers have the tools to achieve the following goals: educate patients, manage prescription medications, communicate between office visits, and engage in shared decision making.
Educate your patients.
Engaged patients need to understand their medical conditions before they can take charge of their health. For instance, a patient with diabetes can make better, more informed decisions about her diet if she understands how blood sugar works. This generates better compliance than giving a patient a list of favorite foods she can’t eat with no explanation. Providing well-designed print and web patient handouts, written in plain language, and making sure that they reach patients — as well as involving nurses in education efforts — can make all the difference in whether patients stick to their treatment plans. Patient portal adoption, that includes education and careplans in the portal, facilitates successful adherence to medical plan.
Take charge of medication management.
When patients forget to take medications, or when prescriptions aren’t adjusted as needed, you get high readmissions, adverse events, and costs. Technology, like chronic care management software, provides a range of possibilities in medication management: You can create text or mobile app reminders to fill prescriptions and take meds, engage patients in tracking side effects and changes in how they feel, and use a the platform to check in with patients about their medications between appointments. These tools allow you to increase compliance with regimens that are working well and act quickly to modify the ones that aren’t.
Communicate between appointments.
The majority of a patient’s time is spent outside of your office, but what happens during that time has a huge impact on outcomes. That’s why it’s especially important that patient engagement continues between appointments. Secure messaging through patient portal adoption is one of the best ways to send patient education emails and provides opportunities for patients to contact you with questions.
Engage patients in decisions.
Patient engagement in treatment decisions doesn’t mean that doctors are giving up their roles. Instead, healthcare providers should be guiding a collaborative process where they support patients in understanding and committing to treatment plans. The result? Treatment compliance, improved outcomes, and lower costs. A year-long randomized study conducted by Health Dialog found that patients who had enhanced support in making decisions about their healthcare had 12.5 percent fewer hospital admissions and and 5.3 percent lower medical costs than the control group.
Reduce liability risk through patient engagement.
A number of studies have shown that communication problems between doctors and patients are at the root of many lawsuits against healthcare providers. At the diagnostic stage, engaging a patient in effective, open communication to fully understand the issue increases a doctor’s ability to come to the correct conclusion. At the treatment stage, a patient that understands his condition and takes an active role in his care is more likely to comply with a treatment plan — and that means there’s less likelihood of adverse events and consequently, a lower risk of becoming involved in a costly lawsuit.