Patient engagement matters. An engaged patient easily handles proactively managing their healthcare. Studies show healthcare providers who effectively engage their patients to improve health outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing costs. Engaged patients take a more active role in their health, are more compliant with their doctor’s recommendations, and ultimately stay healthier. How can you meet patient engagement needs and achieve these benefits?
Characteristics of Engaged Patients
Most healthcare providers rely on the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) to determine if a patient population is engaged. This 100-point measurement scale has been around since 2004, and it remains the most consistent tool out there to look for six key patient characteristics:
- The ability to self-manage problems or illnesses.
- Engaged in activities to maintain function and improve health.
- Involved in diagnostic decisions and treatments.
- Collaboration with providers.
- Ability to navigate the healthcare system.
- The ability to select a provider or facility based on quality performance.
PAM is just the first step toward engaging patients, but it’s an important one. Using this tool can help you target non-compliant or disengaged patients and focus more attention on re-engaging them in their own care.
How to Engage Patients
Patient Engagement HIT says, “A patient cannot meaningfully engage in self-management activities if she is not familiar with her conditions, treatments, and other health issues.” One study showed that clinician-led patient education can help engage patients.
Interestingly, technology can be used to help educate patients in this way. For example, remote sensor devices known as IoT (Internet of Things) applications can monitor a patient from home. Then, a clinician or educational counsel can use telemedicine to video conference the patient to discuss their monitoring results and suggest new strategies to get them back to health.
Patient portal technology can also engage patients by allowing them to self-service test results, make appointments, ask questions, pay bills, and more.
Even texting or just a good old-fashioned phone call from a healthcare professional can reengage patients in their health. One study showed automated phone calling increases patient appointment scheduling and reduces no-shows. Another study showed text messaging can increase medication adherence rates by up to 14%. Medication adherence is a huge engagement issue, particularly in older patients. Up to 60% of all chronically ill patients have low medication adherence rates, which is a huge driver of healthcare costs and even causes 125,000 deaths annually.
As part of this process, doctors and other healthcare providers must use clear, simple language to engage patients in a shared decision-making process geared toward improving their health.
What Can You Do Right Now to Improve Patient Engagement?
Meeting patient engagement goals is challenging but possible. It starts with first establishing patient population segments to determine those most at-risk. It requires a fresh look at proactive education strategies to reach these population segments. Finally, it requires healthcare providers to lower barriers to care and increase shared decision-making for better health outcomes.
UHC Solutions works with FQHCs and other community healthcare providers to give them the staff they need to meet evolving patient needs. Talk with our team today about your talent needs. We can help.