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We know what brings people into the healthcare system. But do we know what keeps them out?

Healthcare providers are now on the hunt for specific strategies to increase patient engagement levels and improve health outcomes. All while keeping costs down.

Studies highlight the importance of designing a quality patient engagement strategy even more. They reveal that low level engagement patients levels cost 8 to 21% more than engaged patients. However, new strategies mean change. And adopting change requires for everyone involved to change their mindset.

“Patient Engagement is the process by which patients become invested in their own health”

Healthcare providers are aware of the advantages of a more patient-centered care model. But where to begin? We are sharing 10 strategies that will help healthcare providers design a solid patient engagement strategy. Meeting their future patient engagement goals.

Tip #1: Define your Patient Engagement Vision


What do you want to achieve when it comes to patient engagement? That is the first step of designing a patient engagement strategy. Where are you now? And where do you want to go?

Involve your senior leadership, board, staff, patients and their families in creating your engagement vision. Ask them what patient engagement means to them and what they expect to get out of it. Use the information you collect from these different source groups to define your vision. Ask yourself: ‘what will my organization look like when strong patient engagement strategies are in place?’. Creating a strategy instantly clarifies where the organization is hoping to go. This could lead to a higher level of involvement and a higher chance of success.

Tip #2: Make Innovation the Base of your Culture


Major healthcare changes such as technology and other advancements are forcing hospitals to rethink the way they operate. Now is as good a time as any to make some changes to the organization’s culture.

Encourage creative thinking with the organization and have everyone focus on innovation. Supporting creativity at both individual and group level will drive a culture of innovation in the entire organization. To encourage creative thinking enable access to information, ensure everyone knows it’s ok if their attempt at innovation is not successful and what levels of risk are tolerated. Creativity and innovation embedded in the provider’s culture will benefit your patient engagement strategy. Who knows what ideas come up to further involve patients.

Tip #3: Make Someone Responsible for Improving the Patient Experience


Just talking and thinking about innovation and improving patient engagement is not enough. You want to make real progress, right? Start by making someone or a group of people responsible for improving patient engagement. This team should have the authority to make changes and actively work towards improvements. Many hospitals already have these kind of innovation teams, but are not given a fair chance. They are kept from crucial information and budgets. And are not allowed to make the necessary chances. Engaging patients can be done on a number of levels. But unless you have someone who is willing to put words into action, nothing will happen.

Tip #4: Define your Key Metrics and Evaluate ROI


Every business wants to get something out of an investment. Healthcare providers are no different. Investing in patient engagement takes time and effort. To show the results of patient engagement to your leadership team, it’s good to measure the return on investment (ROI). Empower a team to research and understand the total financial picture of a patient engagement solution. Maximizing your ROI. Healthcare providers can measure ROI based on a number of elements:

  • Efficiency savings
  • Improved health outcomes
  • Additional revenue generated from avoiding surgical cancellations
  • Non-financial gains (increased patient satisfaction, increase employee satisfaction)
  • Increased knowledge of the patient population

Tip #5: Describe Individual Patient Needs


What healthcare providers assume is important to patients, sometimes differs from what patients consider important. There are many barriers at the patient level keeping patients from taking responsibility and following doctor’s orders. Even though they are willing to. Patients encounter these barriers for a number of reasons. The social and economic environments they must function in, cultural elements, fear and uncertainty about what to expect and the lack of health knowledge.

A large portion of the population hit these kind of barriers. Knowing what patients run into and taking down the barriers will help providers optimize patient engagement levels. Measuring patient needs can be done quantitatively through interviews and qualitatively through patient surveys.

Tip #6: Employ the Right Technology and Services


The key to successfully engaging patients is having the right technology and services. Look for a system that will operate seamlessly with your workflow. The best engagement solutions will offer a range of capabilities and options. These include a cross-platform patient engagement platform which allows for patient registration, reminders and remote monitoring.

When selecting a patient engagement system also look into the extra features. Are there integrated options such as e-mail or SMS? What is the quality of their existing patient education material library like? And can you measure the performance through some sort of analytics dashboard?

All things to consider if you want to optimize your patient engagement strategy.

Tip #7: Test Potential Patient Engagement Solutions


As with every big investment, testing is important. Set up small trials and test different patient engagement solutions quickly without being locked in long term.

Build your evaluation framework based on the metrics you defined in Tip #4. That way you can identify which patient engagement solution is more likely to help you meet your patient engagement goals. Don’t skip this step, but schedule plenty of time for extensive testing.

Only by testing you can determine what works before substantially scaling across the hospital.

Tip #8: Involve Care Staff and Providers


The success of your patient engagement strategy all stands with your staff and care providers being on board with your plan. But how do you get them to focus on patient engagement and see the benefits of it?

First of all, make sure you actually explain the benefits of engaging patients. That way you know for sure staff and providers understand the importance. Illustrate benefits for themselves, for patients and for the entire organization.

Next, your care staff will undoubtedly have concerns about older patients having the adopt new technology. Address these concerns.

Research consistently shows that patients older than 65 use the Internet on a regular basis. They are also comfortable using patient portals to access their electronic health record (EHR). Research even shows that 83% of seniors in the U.S think they should have full access to their health records. But only 28% actually does (2013 Accenture Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement).

Getting your staff and caregivers on board is key to improving patient engagement. They need to believe in it just as much as you do.

Tip #9: Measure Results


Your engagement strategy will consists of multiple patient engagement solutions. To measure the success of your patient engagement strategy, measure each solution individually.

Before you start implementing patient engagement solutions, collect data of the baseline of the metrics you are expecting to improve. Once you launch the different patient engagement solutions, regularly check, review and update these metrics. This will help you measure the ROI and success of the chosen patient engagement solutions. And eventually help you report back to the leadership team.

Tip #10: Offer Engaging and High Quality Patient Education Material


Patient education and patient engagement go hand in hand. The better informed a patient is, the more confident they will feel about being involved in their own health. Today 80% of all Internet users have searched for answers to their healthcare questions.

Patients want to learn about their conditions. Research shows knowledgeable patients are more confident and likely to manage their health conditions.

The problem lies with making health related information understandable for everyone. Not just for medically trained people. Often patient education materials are not written at a level that the average patient can understand. This makes it harder for them to follow instructions and will lead to poor health outcomes.

Making patient education materials more engaging and understandable is the solution. Think about making this information interesting and interactive or use multi media. This will automatically make it easier for patients to invest in understanding their health conditions.

A big improvement over the paper handouts that many practices still use today. That is definitely not a way to support patient engagement.