As a health care provider, you likely do everything you can to improve your patient's physical, mental and emotional well-being. However, studies have shown that a patient's commitment to improving their health significantly impacts their health outcomes. In other words, the more invested one is in improving their health, the more likely they are to make healthier lifestyle choices that lead to better long-term health outcomes.
One of the best ways providers can improve a patient's dedication to improving their health is by improving patient engagement. This article discusses the top five strategies health care centers can use to increase patient engagement, including:
- Improving patient education and health literacy.
- Enhancing patient outreach, communication and shared decision-making.
- Utilizing digital health technologies.
- Personalizing care plans and treatment.
- Providing ongoing support and follow-up.
What Is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement refers to how involved a patient is in their care experience. It is characterized by open communication and shared decision-making between patients and providers. An engaged patient desires to collaborate with their health care provider and is often actively involved in making health care decisions and crafting personalized care plans.
As a result, patients better understand their health conditions and feel empowered to manage their diseases independently or with the help of remote technology.
The Benefits of Implementing Patient Engagement Solutions
Overall, patient engagement benefits providers and patients. The more engaged a patient is, the better their care experience will likely be. Patient engagement also enables providers to provide the best quality care for every individual, resulting in better health outcomes.
Improved health outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, reduced care costs and a strong patient-provider relationship are just some of the benefits of active patient engagement.
Strategy 1 — Improving Patient Education and Health Literacy
The American Journal of Medicine finds that around 50% of patients with chronic diseases such as osteoporosis may not benefit from treatment due to not complying fully with their medication regimens. This lack of compliance could result in:
- Poor health outcomes
- Increased hospitalizations
- Higher health care costs
- Reduced quality of life
However, the same study found that a patient's satisfaction with treatment — and their relationship with their health care provider — was linked with higher compliance. This means that improving the patient care experience by providing clear, accessible patient education materials that deepen their understanding of their health conditions is vital for promoting positive health outcomes.
Ultimately, adequate patient education empowers patients to understand their diagnosis and the cause of illness. It also helps patients build a lasting, trusting relationship with their provider.
Strategy 2 — Enhancing Communication and Shared Decision-Making
Generally, patients seek out medical professionals to create evidence-based care plans, automatically assuming they are not qualified to partake. However, shared decision-making is essential in providing patient-centered, value-based care. Shared decision-making refers to how providers and patients collaborate to make evidence-based health care decisions that also consider a patient's preferences and values.
Improved patient-provider communication and shared decision-making empower and motivate patients to follow their care plans more closely, resulting in various positive outcomes, including:
- A better understanding of their health condition.
- A better understanding of their treatment options, including the pros and cons of each.
- Having the information, resources and support they need to make informed health care decisions.
- Developing a lasting, trusting relationship with their health care provider.
- Improving care compliance.
- Reducing hospital readmissions.
Strategy 3 — Utilizing Digital Health Technologies
Digital health technologies like encrypted patient portals and electronic health records (EHRs) allow patients to access and engage with their health information. Patient portals can store educational resources that help patients understand and self-manage their health conditions.
Additionally, digital health technologies often make health care more accessible and, occasionally, more affordable. For example, patients that live in rural areas or can't commute to and from appointments easily might prefer telehealth follow-up appointments. They may also prefer to communicate a question or concern with their provider via a mobile app, rather than call the office or schedule an appointment.
Strategy 4 — Personalizing Care Plans and Treatment
One of the key components of patient-centered care is creating personalized health care plans. A personalized care plan is tailored to an individual's care needs and preferences. Collaborative care planning helps patients set realistic health goals and milestones that consider their medical history and cultural, social and personal circumstances.
Creating a personalized care plan with a provider can lead to improved health literacy, allowing patients to advocate for and vocalize their care needs in the future. Plus, these benefits can significantly improve a patient's long-term health outcomes.
Strategy 5 — Providing Ongoing Support and Follow-Up
A patient's health journey doesn't end after they step out of a physician's office or care facility. Frequent, ongoing support and follow-up are integral in increasing a patient's likelihood of following aftercare instructions.
Ongoing support also improves the patient-provider relationship. Providers that check in with their patients for non-emergent reasons foster a patient's sense of trust, so patients are more likely to reach out with their questions, concerns and struggles. Checking in with patients can decrease the likelihood of readmittance and, potential health declines.
There are several ways providers can provide ongoing support for patients, including:
- Utilizing Care Coordination programs that connect with patients upon discharge and provide ongoing support to overcome the social determinants of health.
- Implementing health coaching programs that guide and motivate patients to follow aftercare instructions.
- Establishing support groups or online communities for peer support.
- Conducting regular follow-up calls or telehealth appointments to monitor progress and address questions and concerns.
Overcoming Barriers to Patient Engagement
In addition to identifying ways to improve patient engagement, providers must also commit to identifying and overcoming possible patient engagement barriers. Every patient has a unique set of circumstances that will impact their engagement. Health disparities, language barriers, economic situations, technology limitations and health literacy all play a role in patient's level of engagement. Providers must do their best to implement strategies that ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all patient populations.
For example, older adults might struggle to access EHRs that provide patient education resources. Still, others might feel unmotivated to use an RPM device because their provider didn't teach them how to use it correctly, resulting in frustration that deters them from using it. Identifying these knowledge or accessibility gaps is vital for improving a patient's engagement, care experience and long-term health outcomes.
Contact Medrina to Learn More About Driving Patient Engagement
Are you ready to improve patient engagement in your skilled nursing center or post-acute care setting? Medrina is proud to be a leading, physician-owned practice of physiatrists passionate about improving patient outcomes via our comprehensive care programs, which have a rating of 96% patient satisfaction after discharge. Together, we can implement strategies and advanced technologies that decrease hospital readmissions, improve patient satisfaction and drive better patient engagement.
Contact us today to learn more about how you can increase patient engagement in your care facility to improve patient outcomes in the long term.