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Patient motivation and engagement techniques for primary care physicians

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Motivating patients to take their medications appropriately and to follow the plan laid out for their injuries, illnesses, or well care maintenance can be a challenge. Many patients are intrinsically motivated while others need additional encouragement and engagement from their primary care physicians. A number of techniques can help the primary care physician engage the patient more fully, including using electronic health records (EHRs) for patient engagement, communicating with the patient regularly, and using a unique approach called motivational interviewing.

EHRs for patient engagement give the physician and the patient the ability to communicate electronically. EHR tools, such as the Elation Patient Passport, offer an online portal for providers and their patients to securely share and communicate regarding their health information. Patients can access their visit summaries, medications, reports, and more online. Patients are also encouraged to ask their physicians questions to clarify follow-up instructions, for example.

The convenience in using an EHR for patient engagement can encourage patients to become more motivated to share additional information with their primary care physician and to follow their treatment plan after the office visit. Patients who prefer electronic communication may be more open to asking questions virtually.

Another technique that can help motivate and engage patients during the visit is the motivational interview, a conversation in which the primary care physician asks questions designed to encourage a hesitant patient to share additional details. The goal of the motivational interview is “not to solve the patient’s problem or even to develop a plan; the goal is to help the patient resolve his or her ambivalence, develop some momentum and believe that behavior change is possible.”

Motivating and engaging patients can be challenging but using techniques that make the patient more comfortable and that are designed to elicit questions and feedback can help the primary care physician better understand the patient’s situation and medical condition.