3 Ways to Enhance Patient Engagement and Experience

Patient experience is no longer just about quality of care measurements and outcomes. Today, there are no less than 12 aspects that combine to create the patient experience, and each one can have a profound impact on your ability to attract and retain patients.

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The aspects that create today’s patient experience.

In this article we’ll explore a few tips to enhance the patient experience within your office that will help you improve patient experience, drive better outcomes and keep staff engaged. All in a day’s work, right?

We know patients actively involved in their health tend to have better outcomes, report higher overall satisfaction, and experience lower health-related costs.

A key to drive patient satisfaction is developing a culture beyond clinical care that includes a digital culture of wellness to support practice efficiency, productivity and perceived value. It also involves enhancing patient communication, personalization and engagement.

Enhancing and transforming the patient experience and providing first-rate, patient-centered care revolves around the consistent development of processes to meet your patients’ expectations and needs. Understanding your patients’ preferences and priorities will allow you to identify and optimize opportunities to increase comfort and reduce suffering which will ultimately strengthen the patient-provider relationship.

Below we’ll define exactly what patient engagement is and break down top-level strategies you can use to stay connected to your patients outside traditional clinic walls and between the lines of care you provide.

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What’s the Difference Between Patient Engagement and Patient Experience?

The patient experience is widely influenced by the perception of the care they received, including other factors traditionally not considered in healthcare settings, like customer service. Ultimately, patient experience represents the overall satisfaction of their personal experience with your office, which, more often than not, is outside your control.  

Patient engagement, however, relates to the way a patient mobilizes their healthcare experience. What actions do they take that allow them to take an active role in their healthcare? What tools, technologies, and programs are available to encourage patients, caregivers, and families to play a more engaged role in administering their long-term health and wellness?

To improve patient engagement, we need to recognize that engaging with patients is a triangular synergy between the physician, the patient, and the practice. If low patient engagement is plaguing your practice, one way to address it is to look upstream for social or environmental issues that could be impacting patient fulfillment and engagement.

Patient engagement is about encouraging interaction between your patients and providing meaningful opportunities for your patients to engage in the ways they know and are comfortable with.

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1. Keep Patients Engaged After They Leave

It’s not rocket science: your patients want your practice to be accessible. They desire simple ways to schedule appointments, and perhaps most important of all, they want transparent and straightforward billing. Patients want to see up front what they’ll be paying for and not have to worry about extra charges six months down the road.

Patient engagement is not some newfangled trend. It’s old-school. Technology has its purpose, but nothing can substitute for genuine interpersonal communication. Compassion and empathy are not something you can get from AI or an app; they are, however, things you and your staff can use to promote greater engagement.

That portal or app you created may not necessarily enhance patient engagement. Just because your practice has the latest technological gadgets doesn’t mean you can check patient engagement off your to-do list. Improving patient engagement is about that personal touch, human connection, feeling like you belong to a larger community, and taking an active role in managing the delivery of your healthcare.

Therefore, how can you engage your patients? The answer lies in the space between a doctor’s visit and the following chapter in a patient’s care.

Patients have climbed on the digital bandwagon and ready for technological engagement. Your patients already interact daily with different technologies, so consider employing those to boost engagement; however, you’ll need to ensure its delivery is simple, seamless, and centered around the patient experience, not the practice. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Smartwatch health data monitoring
  • Real-time educational opportunities through your website or Alexa-like devices
  • Push notifications to remind patients to exercise, pick up their prescriptions, or invite them to special events or seminars

To impact patient experience, satisfaction, and engagement, it will be critical to concentrate on the tiny adjustments within your workflow that will have a significant impact on the patient.

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2. Leverage AI Without Breaking the Bank

Three-quarters of aging households are expected to adopt voice-assisted technology by 2020 making artificial intelligence (AI) the tech frontrunner to enhance patient engagement.

Not inconceivable is the presence of an Alexa like Bluetooth speaker running through exam rooms, performing like closed-loop HIPAA-compliant systems. Patients would be able to ask questions related to their file and diagnosis, change the TV channel or dim the lighting in the room.

Virtual reality (VR) can also drive patient engagement. Some hospitals in California are employing VR to show patients how specific brain surgeries will be performed, thus elevating patient satisfaction scores as well as reimbursements. There’s a real possibility home care and wound care with patient and provider interacting one-on-one from different locations is just around the corner.

3. Remember Who You’re Talking To

You may not realize it, but the language can also impact patient engagement. Instead of focusing on “adherence and compliance,” we should try to discern the underlying social or environmental factors hindering a patient from complying with medical recommendations.

Why is a particular patient unable to comply? We need to take the time to connect with and understand our patients; we need to have conversations, put ourselves in their shoes, and then find methods to boost patient engagement and enhance overall patient satisfaction.  

Roughly 40 million U.S. adults read at a junior high school level. However, most healthcare directions are written in much more complex language (usually in tiny fonts) which cause confusion and increase non-compliance, particularly among aging populations. To fully engage patients, we need to make sure they can comprehend the instructions we’re giving them.

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What Does it All Mean?

At the end of the day, an engaged patient has superior outcomes, reduced costs of care, and greater satisfaction overall. The more you can develop a culture beyond the clinical atmosphere to one that connects both patient and provider through a digital culture of wellness, communication and personalization, the more your patients and your practice will benefit.

Patients demand experiences be more custom to them, and one of the best ways to deliver is to keep them engaged outside of the office, leverage technology and utilize the proper language to drive your points and treatment plans home.

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Jennifer Thompson serves as President at Insight Marketing Group. She founded the medical marketing company in 2006 after an unsuccessful run for political office (which she went on to win in 2010 & 2014). Jennifer has two decades experience in marketing in the areas of technology, retail and medical for small businesses and Fortune 100 companies. She’s a serial entrepreneur who wakes up every day at 4 am ready to change the world. When it’s time to recharge, Jennifer enjoys being on the water and dreaming up her next big idea.

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