Studies have shown a link between poor health literacy, increased costs to the healthcare system, and poorer patient outcomes.
50% of patients walk out of their physician’s office not knowing what they were told or what they were supposed to do. This can result in a range of costly health expenses, not to mention possible dangers the patient could incur from not remembering pertinent information.
Patients are often overwhelmed and confused by medical information, and may be embarrassed or to shy to ask questions or for further clarification. Furthermore, patients filter what they hear, based on their own health beliefs, values, experiences, and illness.
Successful patient engagement solutions not only rely on a patient’s willingness to manage their own health, but also on other interventions that encourage a proactive attitude, like preventative care. Once implemented, patient engagement solutions have the ability to have a positive impact on your organization, from both a clinical and financial perspective. They go beyond just meeting the Meaningful Use mandates and engage consumers in a way that improves their health and helps your organization run more efficiently.
Achieving effective long-term patient engagement strategies has its challenges, but with a well-considered multi-faceted plan, organizations can succeed.
Here we discuss the five essential elements you need to incorporate.
1. Be Accessible to Patients
Healthcare has already undergone huge transformations due to mobile technologies and research suggests that these advancements will only continue to increase. The proliferation of patients using mobile devices and tablets to access health information plus increased use of apps, smart watches, and other wearable biomonitoring devices highlight the importance of reaching consumers through mobile means.
2. Invest in Interoperable Data Systems
Interoperability, or the ability to exchange and make use of data from various sources, is crucial as mobile adoption continues to rise. Information systems must be able to capture and organize patient data for useful analysis and improved patient care. A perfect example is an interoperable patient portal that can sync consumer’s self-reported data with a health-monitoring device or a personal fitness app.
3. Monitor Data Effectively
Your technology solutions should allow you to leverage the data and help optimize patient outcomes. This will most likely require organizations to allocate extra resources (clinicians) to manage and monitor incoming data. Clinicians could then determine when to commence an intervention, or when to contact patients based on the metrics and conditions that their data reveals.
4. Make the Data Actionable
Effectively monitoring the data is the first step; putting the data into action is the next. Healthcare organizations need to ensure that their technology systems can interpret and present data in a way that is founded on evidence, allowing the team to make actionable decisions. This could be particularly useful if a patient is experiencing any negative or potentially dangerous side effects of a medication. Let’s say that a patient’s blood pressure severely spikes and they record and share this information through an app. Before an adverse event occurs, an intervention could be ordered based on the information generated from automatically accessing the patient’s health record, filtering the updates, and generating a notification for the provider.
5. Outreach to High-Risk Consumers
If we consider again the example above: when the consumer receives an automatic notification to contact his provider through his smart phone or tablet, that alone may not be sufficient motivation to trigger the consumer into action. However, if the clinician monitoring the data calls the consumer to inquire about the high blood pressure readings, provides information, and connects him directly with his provider, the level of engagement is found to be significantly higher than from automated calls alone.
As patients continue to evolve into healthcare consumers, with value-based payments becoming more common, organizations must establish very clear patient engagement strategies. The evidence is clear that engaged patients cost less and have better health outcomes. By incorporating a strategy that takes advantage of the available technologies, improvements in the patient experience will grow while costs will decline.