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How to Improve Patient Engagement in Healthcare


In today's rapidly evolving healthcare industry, patient engagement has become a critical factor in delivering high-quality care. Are you looking for ways to enhance the level of involvement and empowerment your patients experience? If so, you're in the right place.

Patient engagement refers to the active participation of patients in their healthcare journey, including making informed decisions, managing their health, and communicating effectively with their healthcare providers. Research has shown that engaged patients experience improved health outcomes, increased satisfaction, and reduced healthcare costs.

Improving patient engagement in healthcare requires a comprehensive approach that involves both healthcare providers and patients themselves. By implementing strategies and utilizing technology, healthcare organizations can facilitate better communication, shared decision-making, and increased patient involvement, ultimately leading to better health outcomes for all parties involved. In this article, we will explore effective strategies and best practices to help healthcare providers enhance patient engagement and revolutionize the way we deliver healthcare.

What is patient engagement?

Patient engagement is the process of encouraging patients to actively engage in managing their health. When you practice patient engagement, you are encouraging patients to become more involved in their care plan to see improved outcomes. A patient who is engaged works together with you, actively participating in the decision-making process, and that benefits everyone involved.

Why is patient engagement important?

Patients are taking a greater interest in their health. They want to have easy and convenient access to their medical records, to a communication portal, and to the quality care you offer in person and through telehealth. Those with chronic conditions, especially, are increasingly interested in being able to participate in their care.

The impact of patient engagement goes far beyond just easy access to health records and communication. It significantly improves health outcomes and healthcare delivery efficiency. Research shows that engaged patients experience better health, including lower cholesterol and less smoking and obesity. They also take preventive measures more seriously, like getting health screenings.

Studies also suggest that patient engagement results in fewer trips to the emergency room and shorter hospital stays.

When a patient is more engaged, they may also experience:

  • More realistic expectations of side effects or recovery time
  • Less treatment anxiety
  • Greater adherence to treatment plans.

Healthcare costs can also be reduced through patient engagement. One research study found that patients with the lowest rates of engagement had total costs of care that were 21% higher the following year.

Benefits of patient engagement

Patient engagement offers many benefits, directly contributing to improved health outcomes and healthcare practices' success. Engaged patients are more satisfied, follow their treatment plans better, and adopt healthier behaviors, improving their health. This involvement leads to a better grasp and control over their health, lower costs, and better use of healthcare resources.

Patient engagement also improves the relationship between patients and healthcare providers. This type of teamwork atmosphere allows for openly sharing information and tailoring care to each patient. By leveraging technology, such as clinical-first EHR platforms, healthcare providers can ensure a more effective, efficient, and patient-centered care delivery model.

How to improve patient engagement

Enhancing patient engagement is essential for the success of your practice, especially for solo physicians or small practices. Integrating patient engagement strategies can boost patient satisfaction, better health outcomes, and create a more sustainable practice. Below are practical methods to enhance patient engagement.

1. Involve patients in coordinated care treatment

When patients participate in the conversations, their coordinated care becomes more effective. The benefits of engaging patients in collaborative care include greater patient satisfaction and improved healthcare outcomes, which also reduce the total cost of their care.

2. Give patients access through a secure portal

The portal must be user-friendly, and support patient-centered outcomes. It should also be integrated into clinical encounters so that your team uses it to communicate with patients, convey information, and support their self-care and decision-making. A wide range of patients should be encouraged to use the portal, including those who may not be technology savvy. They will be more likely to use it when the functionality supports patient activation and continued interaction.

3. Give patients access to remote care

Your patients are more likely to be engaged in proactive health when they have the option of convenient access to care from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Telehealth, or virtual visits, augment the quality of in-person care you provide by enabling continuous, collaborative care.

4. Use AI and machine learning for personalized care

Using AI and machine learning can greatly improve patient engagement by providing care that is tailored to each person. These technologies analyze data to identify patient preferences, predict health risks, and customize care plans. With a clinical-first EHR platform that uses AI, healthcare providers can give specific help and education to each patient. This method helps independent care facilities stay open and makes patients feel recognized and cared for.

5. Enhance patient education through digital tools

Making digital tools available that educate patients on health topics helps them understand their health, including their conditions, treatments, and how to prevent sickness better. Sharing this information on your website or through a secure patient portal empowers patients to make informed decisions and take charge of their health. Using interactive tools like videos, quizzes, and online brochures can make learning fun and get patients more involved in their healthcare.

6. Implement a feedback loop for continuous improvement

Establishing a structured feedback loop that encourages patients to share their experiences, suggestions, and concerns about the care they receive can significantly improve patient engagement. Facilitating this through digital surveys, suggestion boxes, or direct communication channels within the patient portal demonstrates to patients that their opinions are valued and considered, thereby increasing their engagement and loyalty to the practice. Moreover, this feedback loop can provide invaluable insights for the practice to enhance service delivery, patient experience, and overall care quality, ultimately leading to better-engaged patients and improved patient outcomes.

Challenges with patient engagement

One of the primary challenges with patient engagement lies in overcoming barriers related to technology adoption and literacy among diverse patient populations. Engaging patients in their healthcare journey requires not only access to digital health tools but also the ability and confidence to use them effectively. Many patients, especially those in older demographics or underserved communities, may struggle with navigating online patient portals, telehealth platforms, or mobile health apps.

This digital divide can hinder the potential for engaged patients to actively participate in their healthcare, impacting patient outcomes negatively. Therefore, healthcare providers must find innovative ways to simplify technology use, provide comprehensive digital literacy training, and ensure that digital health solutions are accessible and user-friendly for all patients.

Furthermore, personalizing patient engagement strategies to meet individual needs and preferences poses another significant challenge. Each patient's health journey is unique, with varying levels of health literacy, personal motivations, and barriers to care. Healthcare providers must therefore adopt a clinical-first EHR platform that allows for the customization of care plans and communication strategies to address these individual differences.

By personalizing patient engagement efforts, providers can better support patients in managing their health, leading to improved adherence to treatment plans and preventive care measures. This tailored approach not only fosters a stronger patient-provider relationship but also promotes a higher level of patient engagement, essential for achieving optimal patient outcomes.

Experience a new level of patient engagement with Elation

How does Elation help your practice optimize practice engagement? Elation EHR makes connecting with your patients seamless and convenient through:

  • Secure messaging via the patient portal, which has been shown to improve health outcomes
  • Telehealth capabilities, which improves access to care and reduces the cost of care
  • Patient education opportunities through the bulk letter feature, enabling improved population health for your patients.
  • In addition, Elation continues to enhance patient satisfaction with the new SMS opt-in functionality.

Improving patient engagement in healthcare is not just a beneficial strategy, but a necessity for the future of healthcare. By implementing the tips and strategies mentioned in this article, you can create a meaningful and personalized experience for your patients, ultimately leading to better outcomes. Remember, it's about putting the patient at the center of their care and empowering them to become active participants in their health journey.

Want to see how Elation EHR helps your practice improve patient engagement rates? View a sample patient chart in Elation EHR to see how our intuitive charting solution makes it simple for patients to engage with you.