Picture a scenario such as this: You’ve been tasked with the job of building a dream house on a serene private beach for an ambitious client looking to push the boundaries of architectural design. This is the job you’ve been waiting for all your life, and to make it even better, you’ve been given control over the project to implement your client's artistic vision. Based on his level of engagement, you figure that checking in every once in a while will be enough to make sure that reality meets expectations.
Quickly, however, you realize that this is not the case. Complaints about design aspects such as the kitchen countertops not being the right material, or a previously agreed upon placement of the master bedroom (which your client has now backtracked on), start to go wrong - and all of a sudden this dream project has turned into a nightmare. You think to yourself, ‘Just a little bit more communication and the outcome of my work would have been much better.’
While this is a fabricated situation - the reality is that communication breakdown such as this happens between clinicians and patients daily. When you compare this trivial matter to your own health outcomes or the health outcomes of your patients or loved ones, the results could be far, far more disastrous.
Patient engagement is one of, if not the most, popular themes making the rounds in the healthcare industry today. While many hospitals, clinics, and allied health providers say they have a ‘patient-centered’ or ‘outstanding patient-experience’ approach, the unfortunate reality is that most have fallen short of the goals set forth in their plans and, unfortunately, patients suffer as a result of these shortcomings.
The Critical Need for Patient Engagement
But why is it so important? Well, there are a number of reasons behind this. Strengthened communication and engagement between physicians, providers, and their patients, results in:
- Improved patient satisfaction and patient experience
- Reduced health care costs across the board
- More informed decision making
- Streamlined operations
- And most importantly, improved patient outcomes
By keeping an open line of communication with patients, providers are able to gauge the success of the care plan that had been created. Never again will you have to wonder “Is the patient actually doing what I recommended?” or “Do all the other healthcare providers on this patient’s team have the information they need to make this plan successful?”
Increased collaboration with patients and their other care team members will help promote a sense of togetherness and working towards a common goal, and you’ll easily be able to find the exact reasons why the treatment plan may or may not be going awry.
Getting Started on Improving Patient Engagement
So what are some ways you can increase engagement and collaboration with your patients? While it may seem like an overwhelming task, it’s much easier than you would imagine. Here are some strategies to get started:
- Personalized introductory calls to new patients to establish relationships
- Create a clinic newsletter to share education and updates
- Connect with other providers on your patient’s care teams to understand the whole patient
- Converse with other providers to get advice on how they engage with patients
- Actively search to identify and close gaps in patient care and experience in your healthcare setting
- Share preventative care strategies with your patients
- Invest in technology that allows for secure two-way communication between you, your patients and their other providers.
Along with these strategies, it is essential to keep in mind the timing of your outreach and engagement. Just like consumers in any other industry, patients need to be engaged when it is most convenient for them. All engagement materials, such as emails, brochures, blogs, and eBooks, should be kept brief and very clear as to the message you want the patient to know.
We also understand that with the hectic schedule that is patient care, you rarely have time to connect and communicate with all of your patients on a regular basis. Whether it’s sharing pertinent information related to their diagnosis or following up on a recent hospital stay, regular engagement with the patients that need it most results in a positive patient experience and ultimately, better patient outcomes.
Fostering patient engagement may seem like a daunting challenge - but you’re not in it alone. eCare Vault helps you enable secure patient-centered coordination and collaboration to actively engage with patients and every other member of their care team. The result? A 360° view of the whole patient in a single, HIPAA-compliant location. Check out our website to see how we can help your organization today.