7 patient engagement strategies for improved patient satisfaction
Table of Contents
Patient engagement is directly proportional to good health outcomes. The more engaged patients are in self-care, the healthier they will be. Equipping patients with excellent care infrastructure and enabling them to engage in self-care poses a challenge in the current healthcare scenario. To help patients achieve the desired health outcomes, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ criteria gets thrown out of the window. The support, resources, and interventions are unique for each patient, which is why understanding patient engagement in healthcare is more crucial than ever.
Patient engagement is no longer an option. It has become an essential service after COVID-19. Patient engagement focuses on improving patient experiences and building better processes. While patient engagement is known to improve patient satisfaction, the process of engaging might be unclear.
Close to 96% of patients put experience as an important factor while considering a healthcare provider. When patient experience and engagement are of this importance, achieving or kickstarting the process of engagement is what makes all the difference.
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement can be defined as the capability or interest to empower patients by improving care experiences, reducing hassles, and maximizing outcomes. Digital patient engagement improves accessibility for patients to get in touch with clinics. Patient engagement ensures favorable outcomes for patient health. If you are a healthcare practitioner, ensuring patient satisfaction should be your topmost priority. To achieve patient satisfaction, we have curated a list of the top strategies that you need to implement in your practice.
Patient engagement is nothing but the amalgamation of patient activation and healthcare interventions to ensure sound patient care and overall good quality of life. How understanding, willing, and competent a patient is to partake in the decisions and processes pertaining to his care is what stands at the core of patient engagement. Let’s closely look at what an engaged patient does:
- Self-management of illness
- Constant involvement in diagnosis and treatment choices
- Active exploration of the healthcare system
- Collaboration with caregivers
- Engagement in activities that promote better health
Importance of patient engagement
Here are some core reasons that highlight the importance of patient engagement in healthcare:
- Patients have a plethora of options to choose from and avail the preferred type of care. They can easily search for healthcare providers online based on their location, services offered, and reviews. If a patient is not engaged, he/she is highly likely to have an unsatisfactory experience and make a switch to another provider.
- The advent of tools such as wearable technology and patient portals has made patient engagement easier and more cost-effective. As a result, it is important that healthcare providers and organizations offer knowledge of these technologies and any additional support that their patients need to make them more engaged.
- Patients who are engaged don’t simply show up for their appointments or partake in health screenings. They would like to know about areas that hold relevance in context to their health. This is where support on the part of the healthcare providers becomes paramount.
- An engaged patient is a satisfied patient. When the understanding between the patient, staff, and healthcare providers is good, there will be positive health outcomes, leaving the patient satisfied. In such cases, the patient is most likely to return to the practice or recommend it to friends and family.
Challenges pertaining to patient engagement in healthcare
Considering the complexity of the present healthcare system, there arise a couple of challenges that patients face with respect to the acquisition and comprehension of basic health information. Here are some of the top challenges that we’d like to highlight and address:
Challenge #1: Complex Communication
In order to deliver effective patient care, communication needs to be crystal clear. Challenges in communication arise when the treatment plans and diagnoses do not align with the health literacy of the patient. Language is another common barrier to communication, which can hamper clinical outcomes. If the healthcare provider and the patient speak different languages, then it becomes impossible for them to discuss the treatment plan.
Here’s how this challenge can be addressed:
It is important for providers to prioritize health over disease. As a healthcare provider, you must ask your patients what they want. Here are some strategies that can help improve patient-provider communication:
- Inclusion of translation services
- Telehealth technology encompassing multiple language options
- Communication through text messages
- Emphasis on non-verbal communication
- Training sessions to improve interpersonal communication
Challenge #2: Health Literacy
Fun fact: Nearly 89 million Americans possess insufficient health literacy skills, which further results in poor health outcomes. A patient who is active knows his health condition, takes the necessary steps to improve his health, and also has access to the required resources. On the other hand, a patient who isn’t engaged, who has no access to the resources, and doesn’t understand the importance of self-care; will definitely report poor health outcomes.
Here’s how this challenge can be addressed:
Healthcare providers need to offer their patients the requisite care and education to help them meet their level of health literacy. Here’s how they can improve the same:
- Offering educational content in the form of graphics, brochures, videos, demonstrations, and checklists
- Familiarising patients with symptom trends
- Inclusion of caregivers and family members
- Sharing appointment notes
- Correcting misinformation
Challenge #3: Patient trust
It is important for patients to trust their healthcare providers, as the absence of trust will not help them achieve the desired health outcomes. Factors that lead to a lack of trust can be limited cultural competency on the part of the healthcare provider.
Here’s how this challenge can be addressed:
The provider needs to value cultures and deliver excellent care that also aligns ideally with the linguistic, cultural, and social needs of the patients. Here’s how providers can establish trust:
- Allow patient engagement through patient portals
- Reflect transparency while discussing treatment and diagnosis
- Train staff to be unbiased
- Empathize with patients
- Motivate behavioral change by creating a non-judgmental environment
Challenge #4: Social Health Determinants
The availability of a sound social network, a robust medical management plan, and access to nutritious food are the top three factors that can lead to excellent health outcomes. However, this sadly isn’t the case with many patients as their surrounding environment often gets in the way. For example, a patient with limited access to healthy food might not be able to take medications on a full stomach. Here’s how this challenge can be addressed:
The healthcare providers need to understand the lived environment of the patient and provide customized care as per the needs of the patient.
Here’s how they can address the social determinants:
- Help patients with affordable housing options
- Offer assistance in medical transportation
- Prescribe food alternatives that are affordable and easily accessible
- Help patients deal with social isolation
Key trends influencing patient engagement
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus pandemic has altered the entire healthcare ecosystem, changing the way patients receive care and how healthcare providers interact with their patients. In order to avoid infection from the virus, the patients have become more inclined toward their health, which has only reflected upon the rising importance of patient engagement. Here are the key trends that have been influencing patient engagement:
- Rising focus on health education: Patients have now become more interested in their health and want to be upfront with every bit of information about their health. Owing to this increasing inclination, it is important for healthcare providers to keep their patients engaged by equipping them with the necessary information about their health, including their conditions, diagnosis, and medical treatment plans.
- Digitization of health: With technology taking the center stage, people can easily access everything on-demand, not just with respect to entertainment but also health-related. AI, Telemedicine, chatbots, wearables, and IoT are some of the common examples that have been happily accepted by people around the world.
- Burgeoning importance of patient experience: With the healthcare industry becoming more consumer-centric, patients are being presented with personalised services that meet their needs. Good patient experience means better revenue and growth opportunities for the healthcare providers; hence the rising importance.
- Active adoption of self-care: Patients have now taken control of the steering wheel of their health, actively engaging in self-symptom management. Owing to this trend, healthcare organisations are becoming more proactive towards delivering excellent care, with an aim to increase patient loyalty.
Digital patient engagement
The increasing digitization of the healthcare industry, organizations need to focus on engaging their patients by offering them a smooth digital health journey. Thanks to the pandemic, there has been an acceleration in the adoption of digital health tools and interactions have become more virtual. These factors have made it essential to improve patient engagement through the following strategies:
- Simplifying patient communication for better engagement (text messaging)
- Understanding the timing of communication to derive high patient engagement rates
- Optimizing content; keeping messages short and crisp, easily comprehendible by the patient
- Sending encouraging messages to patients to minimize patient anxiety and build trust
- Using data to analyze patient behaviour and outreach
7 Patient Engagement Strategies for Improved Patient Satisfaction
Having understood what patient engagement is, a couple of winning patient engagement strategies can help improve patient satisfaction. These patient engagement strategies will help you achieve higher numbers with respect to patient satisfaction, thereby helping you grow your practice in the long run.
Have a plan for patient engagement
Every patient engagement strategy needs to have a plan. Patient engagement plans assist patients in understanding their medical records and monitoring future procedures. A patient engagement plan must include scheduled checkups, health screenings, reputation management, medication monitoring, and emotional aspects. Including these in a plan will lead to better support for patients. A plan will help you know every aspect of how the health care practitioner will engage with patients.
Automate reminders for patients
A big hurdle clinics and medical practitioners face is with routine check-up calls, follow-up calls, and task reminders. The traditional methods can be less fruitful and not offer the desired impact. Patients need to receive updates and frequent reminders. This can be tough for healthcare professionals who need to manage and monitor many patients in the same time frame.
With automation, you can reduce no-shows, decrease cancellations, and skim down long waiting lines. You can fix reminders to ensure slots are filled for in-person patient care.
Interesting Fact – Our research and customer feedback shows that Simple SMS reminders help reduce no-shows by 90%
Leverage Email and Text Messaging
Email and text messaging is one of the most important patient engagement strategies that you must not overlook. To get the best results, you need to be connected with patients via email and text messaging. Emails are a great way to know when the next appointment is due, view the reports, and establish better bonds with patients. Text messaging can be highly useful to engage with customers. Healthcare clinics can interact with patients irrespective of their location through phone, chat, or text.
Educate the patients
Patient education is core to the patient engagement strategy. Patient education is using skills, resources, knowledge, and attitudes to influence patient behavior. This can be through blogs, newsletters, and more. The process of patient education starts with using technology to encourage the patient’s interest. It is also important to involve the patient’s family in the patient teaching or patient education process. This also creates authority on the subject and your clinic can be viewed as a thought leader. It has been found that patient education makes it easier for patients to turn up for an appointment since they know what to expect and are mentally prepared for it.
Choose two-way patient communication
Patient engagement is a two-way street. It is not the old-style paper forms and long queues. Patients can meet the medical practitioner at their clinic with a simple communication tool. A simple text signifying the scheduling of the appointment can help. Healthcare providers need to use technology to enhance health outcomes. Tools like Emitrr will help healthcare providers communicate with their patients and engage with them. They can also help patients communicate with their healthcare system by calling them or dropping a message.
Pivot using data
It is a data-driven world and patient data drives business decisions. With artificial intelligence, you can understand patterns of patient communication, drivers, motivations, and more. You can leverage these insights and preferences to meet patient demands. Data needs to be a foundational factor in your patient engagement strategy to decrease gaps in care. You can provide consistent engagement only if you know where to improve. For example, healthcare practitioners can:
- Understand what concerns patients face at the clinic- hygiene, staff attitude, etc.
- Find out what channels patients prefer for communication- text, social media, or call
- Work on improving patient outcomes through follow-up phone calls
Choose a patient engagement software
A patient engagement software brings the technology to make smart, swift, and better decisions. You can improve patient engagement levels, increase productivity levels, and provide assistance 24/7.
Emitrr offers a one-stop solution for all patient communication. Healthcare providers can interact with patients via chat, phone, and text. Patient engagement can be automated through recalls, reminders, asking for reviews, etc. Emitrr’s smartphone system can be integrated with your existing CRM to improve outcomes for the provider.
Emitrr can help a healthcare provider improve patient retention. With Emitrr, you can-
- Ensure no phone calls are missed
- Automate customer engagement
- Remind customers or patients about their clinic visits
- Manage appointment scheduling
- Reduce average handling time
- Increase conversions by maintaining contact with patients
- Reduce no-shows
- Increase care adherence
- Save resources and time
If a patient is engaged, the patient journey improves dramatically. This also leads them to refer the clinic or health center to friends and family. What’s better marketing than word-of-mouth publicity?
All in all, patient engagement stands as the locus for healthcare professionals and patients to interact and give/receive care. Though patient engagement has its own benefits and challenges, the crux is that it is something that cannot be ignored. f you are a healthcare professional looking forward to building patient trust, acquiring more patients, and growing your practice, then patient engagement is something that should be a part of your growth strategies. Implement strong patient engagement strategies in your practice and witness a surge in revenue.