The American healthcare system is the most complex in the world. Patients struggle to learn and understand the wealth of healthcare services available to them — a dizzying array of insurance plans and programs to navigate, a revolving door of doctors and specialists to follow up with, plus the financial and health factors underscoring all of it.

Then, there’s the issue of dismissal and healthcare providers not properly educating patients about their conditions or taking the time to explore each of the various treatment options at their disposal. Even in the instances when patients are given detailed information, it’s easy to empathize with them and see how it can be overwhelming to know where or how to get started on the path to treatment.

However, an increasing body of evidence suggests that patients who are engaged have more positive health outcomes than those who aren’t. They also may also incur fewer costs. Furthermore, for treatment to be truly effective, patients need to actively participate in their medical care and decision-making.

What is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is the act of encouraging patients to be active in their health care and decision-making. Engaged patients may also be referred to as “activated patients,” meaning they understand their role in the care process and possess the knowledge, skill, and confidence to manage their health and care. An engaged patient looks like a patient who never misses an appointment, who always remains informed about their treatment and medication options, and who works together with their healthcare provider.

Keep reading and learn how you can revolutionize your healthcare practice by engaging with your patients more proactively and more effectively.

Why is Patient Engagement Important in Healthcare?

Patient engagement is integral when it comes to running a successful medical practice or healthcare system.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

“… if healthcare professionals want to meet the demand for patient-centered digital healthcare experiences, they need to meet today’s technological demands first.”

Doctors and medical professionals who don’t provide engaging, patient-centered experiences will fall behind—and so will their practices.

What’s more, patient engagement is a win-win for both practices and patients. Engaged patients get to live happier, healthier lives, and practices benefit enormously when they make patients happy. Let’s take a closer look at how patient engagement impacts each side of the equation:

Improved Patient Health Outcomes

Patients are the ones who benefit most from patient engagement. Patients who are engaged to the point of successfully managing their health and care see the biggest transformations by cultivating positive, long-lasting habits and behaviors. They may not, however, always realize these transformations are a direct result of their engagement.

For example, an engaged patient will feel more comfortable and confident opening up about the side effects they’re experiencing from a new medication. With this knowledge, their care team can more effectively help prevent further escalation of their condition. Transparency around patient sentiment also helps doctors customize an ideal treatment plan.

Increased Practice Efficiency

Allowing patients easy access to their health data empowers them to make more informed decisions about their care and treatment plans. Enabling them to enter their data (such as side effects or notes) in the patient portal puts the patient in the driver seat, and in parallel, reduces data entry by your staff which optimizes the entire patient-provider interaction.

Higher Patient Satisfaction

Fully engaged patients open the door to building trust and relationship-longevity; both key components to maintaining continuity, consistency, and quality of care. Patients are more likely to report increased satisfaction when they recognize that your medical practice or healthcare institution is making a concerted effort to inform them and engage with them.

Additional Revenue

Increased patient engagement means patients are more likely to remain loyal to your practice or institution. It also means patients will more regularly visit your office(s) for checkups and follow-ups. All of this adds up to additional revenue for your bottom line. The more healthcare professionals work to increase patient engagement, the more patients will be activated and confident enough to ask questions, pay attention to their care plan requirements, and make (and adhere to) regular follow-up visits.

How to Improve Your Patient Engagement Strategy

There are many ways to improve patient engagement in your healthcare practice, including:

  • Investing in Integrated Technology – Connecting your contact center and your electronic health record (EHR) software brings immediate benefits to your practice or institution; digitalization of patient health records makes managing them far easier and more efficient.

Staff can:

  1. Identify patients who require preventative appointments or follow-ups
  2. Upgrade/update appointment scheduling processes based on patient’s preferences
  3. Activate automated reminders based on the patient’s preferred communication channel(s)

Self-service channels for patients are another example of integrated technology that’s become not only mainstream but broadly expected in the era of consumerized healthcare. Empowering patients with self-service options provides a path to managing their health and wellness at their convenience and offers flexibility they look for in every area of their lives. Plus, offering better digital experiences helps attract and retain more patients.

  • Personalizing Your Solutions – Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with patients doesn’t work. Today’s patient journeys are often a hybrid of in-person and digital interactions to provide flexibility and enable them to better meet their needs. When you treat patients like they have the same expectations as consumers and personalize your solutions and messaging, loyalty and retention increase.
  • Listening to Your Patients – Ultimately, patient feedback is the most important part of any patient engagement strategy. Be sure to connect with your patients at their appointments and ask questions about their experience and overall satisfaction. Keep an eye out for any recurring complaints and resolve them in a timely manner so patients know you care about their needs and prioritize them.

Prepare for the Future of Care Delivery

Optimizing your healthcare contact center and EHR patient portals is a must. They’re the two biggest touchpoints patients use throughout their healthcare journey. So don’t wait—start the shift from reactive customer service to intelligently engaging with patients who call your office today.

Patient engagement strategies play a vital role in revenue cycle management and overall health and wellness outcomes. With the right technology, vision, and guidance, you can drastically improve patient experiences, increase revenue, reduce operational costs, and prepare for the future of consumerized and modernized healthcare.

Proactive patient engagement technologies that integrate with your organization’s existing contact center and EHR are a key step in transforming your patient engagement outcomes. Explore everything Acqueon Patient Assist has to offer.