What is Patient Engagement in Healthcare?
Patient engagement involves encouraging patients in their own care to help improve health outcomes, drive better patient care, and achieve lower costs. It combines a patient’s knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage their own care with communications designed to promote positive behaviors. Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged in their care tend to be healthier.
Patient Engagement Resources
Benefits of Patient Engagement
Strategies for Improving Patient Engagement in Healthcare
There are a few strategies you can deploy in order to encourage patient engagement. Let’s take a look at four of these strategies and how they can impact the health system.
- In the modern market, customers expect all types of businesses to understand their individual wants and needs. This is particularly true in the healthcare industry, as the services provided are deeply personal. Thus, personalization is essential to patient engagement; if you don’t know personal attributes about your patients, your engagement strategy is going to be basic and ineffective.
- With the use of customer journey maps and marketing technology, healthcare can create deeply personalized engagement plans at scale: right patient, right message, right time.
- Utilize electronic health records (EHR) and a healthcare customer relationship management (HCRM) platform to collect, organize, and analyze patient data such as demographics, psychographics, social media activity, behavioral patterns, clinical history, call center interactions, and provider credentialing. These technologies work together to generate 360-degree views of patients, giving healthcare organizations the insights necessary to deploy patient engagement efforts effectively.
- Another technology necessary for patient engagement is a marketing automation tool, which automates outreach to create a continuous patient engagement journey. With marketing automation, healthcare organizations can execute structured patient engagement through channels like email, direct mail, and social media text easily and cost-effectively.
- Healthcare organizations should also integrate their call center software with their HCRM. With an engagement center, since it integrates with other marketing technologies, representatives are able to have relevant and carefully crafted conversations with patients that increase engagement.
- With EHR, CRM, marketing automation, and engagement center systems in place, healthcare organizations can proactively identify, execute, and measure all types of engagement initiatives to deliver value-based care that is truly patient centric.
- It’s not just healthcare marketers that play a role in boosting patient engagement; physicians do as well. Physicians that have frequent contact with their patients, that refer their patients in-network, and that provide attentive, thorough care help to increase patient engagement. Getting physicians on board with engagement-focused initiatives is extremely important and can produce excellent results.
Common Patient Engagement Questions
- Why is patient engagement important for healthcare? Patients are now starting to weigh their healthcare options in much the same way as they do when buying a car or investing for retirement. By actively engaging them, your hospital or health system can build trusted relationships so patients stay invested in their care, have positive experiences, and remain loyal to your organization. This loyalty can help improve brand recognition, which allows you to increase your market share and drive revenue.
- What is the patient engagement journey? This is the multi-stage process of which the patient interacts with the hospital or health system, ranging from the early education and awareness stage to physician interaction to appointment follow-ups. The phases of the patient engagement journey include the following:
- Awareness: Self-assessment of conditions and symptoms, leading to online research and education, posing questions on social media, etc.
- Help: Initial contact with health system via call center, email, mobile, etc. (i.e., Who do I contact? Where can I find it? How can I ask a proper question?))
- Care: Assessment of health condition in medical facility (physician’s office, hospital, etc.)
- Treatment: On-site and follow-up care (medications, physical therapy, etc.)
- Behavioral/Lifestyle Change: Changes to reduce readmissions and promote proactive health.
- Ongoing Care/Proactive Health: Ongoing care management between patient visits, fostering engagement between the patient & physician and enabling the patient to better manage his/her own care.
- What are existing barriers to successful patient engagement? There are both systemic and personal barriers that continue to slow the adoption of improved patient engagement. From a systemic standpoint, the traditional health system is not set-up to facilitate patient engagement, whether it be from a facility’s design to a lack of advanced technology. From the patient side, there is often a hesitancy to be proactive due to limited health literacy, lack of awareness around benefits, or other factors.
- How can providers improve patient engagement? Integrating necessary technology is one way providers can enhance their patients’ engagement levels. Health systems can extend the breadth of their EHR by adding and integrating a CRM system, weaving together multiple sources of data (including patient demographics, psychographic, social, behavioral, clinical, call center, and provider credentialing) to provide a more comprehensive view into patient and consumer habits and activities.
- Does patient engagement improve outcomes? Yes. Multiple domestic and international studies have shown that higher patient engagement leads to better health outcomes. The opposite is also true. In fact, according to one study, less engaged patients are three times as likely to have unmet medical needs and twice as likely to delay medical care. By actively engaging patients, especially to those with chronic conditions, health systems reduce the likelihood of costly emergency procedures and help improve overall patient retention.
- With a CRM system in place, healthcare organizations can proactively identify, execute, and measure all types of engagement initiatives to deliver value-based care that is truly patient centric.