What is Patient Engagement
In the business world, we have always said or heard, “Customer is the King”. Customer engagement is a key factor for any business to thrive or succeed. Does the same logic apply in Healthcare? Is patient engagement that important? Firstly, what is patient engagement? To answer all these questions, let's read on further.
Patient engagement in healthcare means the patient and his family being as much involved as possible in his treatment. The patient needs to know his options for treatment, medications, recuperation, and all other aspects of the healthcare system supporting him. The patient needs to be involved in the decision making process and both the patient and the healthcare provider need to work together towards health improvement.
Importance of Patient Engagement
Having said that, why is patient engagement so important? For that, lets get familiar with some statistics from PWC and PewResearch.
- 80 % of Internet users seek online health information
- 77 % of patients used a search prior to booking an appointment
- 74% of internet users engage on social media. 80% of those internet users are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.
- 42% of individuals viewing health information on social media look at health-related consumer reviews.
- 32% of US users post about their friends and family’s health experiences on social media.
Seeing all this, we can clearly understand that in this era of digital world and social media, health providers need to be very specific with regards to patient engagement. With a large number of choices for medical providers, a patient can very easily switch from one practitioner to other if they feel they are not being engaged with the current doctor or support staff.
Benefits of Patient Engagement
Improved practice: The team will have a better knowledge regarding the patient’s condition and hence will be able to provide a better and comprehensive care to the patient
Patient Satisfaction: The patient realizing the organization is devoting more time and other resources to engage with them will lead to developing trust and hence will share detailed information needed too make better healthcare decisions.
Improved Competitiveness: The organization will gain an edge over other competitors in the complete end to end patient care and hence will lead to more patients coming in.
Reduced Costs: Technologies such as EHR, mHealth, self-service kiosks helps improve the workflow through shared information. This in turn will lead in reducing paperwork, assure accurate information and provide patients with a better experience.
Increased Revenue: By incorporating patient engagement, one can make sure that the patient stays with the organization and comes for regular check-ups and follow up visits. This will also ensure word of mouth from patients and generate new customers.
Assist Clinical research and Population Health: By incorporating technology tools like Blockchain, an organization can support research teams by providing them data which will help identify trends and result in personalized and individualized healthcare.
Strategies for implementing Patient Engagement
The first strategy would be to implement a foolproof EHR system since computerization of records makes them infinitely easier to manage than old-fashioned, paper-based systems. The EHR allows one to analyze the data for all its patients, so doctors can identify various populations, such as those that require preventative appointments or follow-up care.
Apart from good EHR systems, a health provider needs to be social in terms of engaging with the online patient communities so as to develop trust and popularity among its patient network. They also need to clarify the negative reviews and ratings given by dissatisfied patients. Needless to say, a health provider has a very limited time when it comes to being social, hence it is of crucial importance to manage the time efficiently so as to manage both practice and patient engagement well.
Of course, all of these tools and techniques are useless if the patient does not have interest in taking an active role in their health. Patient engagement requires action that must be initiated and sustained by the individual. It is also through the encouragement of the provider that patients learn to utilize tools and technology that produce improved health results. If neither the provider nor the patient is interested in the utilization of these technologies, then no one will benefit from them. Engagement implies active involvement. All parties must be willing to participate and embrace the shift to technology, in order to achieve better outcomes and reduce costs. Hence, this follows the challenges faced in patient engagement.
- A lot of healthcare centers still use the old school method and hence it is an operational and implementation challenge to transform the whole system.
- The organization workforce are still used to the conventional system of them taking all the decisions regarding the patients and hence there is a reluctance in changing the workflow.
- Patients of varied age range limits the senior patients in using the modern technology.
- Every patient has a different communication preference and hence it becomes difficult to cater to every need.
- Lack of healthcare information exchanges
- Difficulty in finding a good EHR system to be implemented.
Having said all that, there are a lot of platforms who have attempted in minimizing these challenges as much as possible and worked towards a better patient engagement. One such platform is PatientMD. PatientMD is a revolutionary health services app which caters to all the needs of patients as well as doctors so them both of them can work collaboratively towards a better healthcare system. For patients, it provides clinic appointments, telemedicine appointments, better healthcare deals, educational videos and an active community where patients can anonymously interact with doctors. For doctors, it provides an active platform for maintaining the patient records, better interact with their patients. It provides an easy user interface to be used by people of every age. Apart from these conventional features, it provides advanced healthcare such as Genomics and AI for cancer detection and Healthcare Tourism.
Current practices devoted to improving patient engagement show a lack of defined guidelines and confusion about what patient engagement is, how it is achieved, and how to produce meaningful outcomes. Researchers and policymakers recognize the importance of having an evidence-based measurement of patient engagement, as it is a necessary tool for planning and implementing initiatives. However, with very few studies and limited data available, there is a lack of clearly defined evidence-based guidelines available.
While researchers and stakeholders continue to debate the most effective methods of measuring patient engagement techniques, more formalized studies are underway. In the meantime, healthcare providers will be performing their own analytics and measurements regarding their patient engagement activities.