The way patients view healthcare is under transformation. Patients are starting to perceive dealing with their providers in a light similar to that of consumer experiences such as purchasing a new car or making financial investments. People want to feel truly known by their providers and have more personalized and meaningful experiences.
In fact, 81% of people want healthcare organizations to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them. Building a bond and trust with patients has always been important, but in today’s environment, it’s more important than ever.
Traditional physician offices aren’t always set up to facilitate patient engagement and often lack the advanced technologies required to foster that engagement. Additionally, practices are concerned not only with developing engagement but also with how to maintain and improve it.
But what exactly is the importance of patient engagement in healthcare? And how can providers evolve to meet changing expectations?
Why Patient Engagement Matters?
Patients are rushing through their days, experiencing stress and being overwhelmed at record rates. Americans are among the most stressed-out people in the world, according to a recent Gallup poll. Patient engagement is focused on making processes easier for patients and helping improve health outcomes. Additionally, it’s focused on truly getting to know individuals and building relationships on a deeper level.
Nearly a third of the workforce, 30%, will change jobs every 12 months. On average, by the age of 42, workers have had an average of 10 different jobs. All of these job changes result in benefit changes and sometimes a change of providers. This is a point where patient engagement strategies become critical in retaining patients. Additionally, a survey reported by the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who were more engaged enjoyed the following benefits:
- Were interested in participating in choices about their healthcare.
- Took ownership of those choices and responsibility for adhering to their treatment plans, which ideally are co-created with providers and health professionals.
- Took an active role in improving their health.
Patient engagement is also key to health outcomes. One study showed that less-engaged patients are three times as likely to have unmet medical needs and twice as likely to delay medical care. Actively engaging patients, especially those with chronic conditions, can help reduce the likelihood of expensive emergency procedures and improve patient retention.
Benefits of Improving Patient Engagement
One of the main goals of increasing patient engagement in the healthcare industry is to improve health outcomes. There are various benefits to the patient and to the practice. These benefits may include the following.
Practice enhancement. Improved patient engagement allows team members to understand each patient’s individualized situation, which allows health professionals to deliver more comprehensive and value-based care.
Increased patient satisfaction. Patients will notice that your practice is delivering more personalized and meaningful interactions. They will appreciate that you’ve given them the engagement tools and technologies to make the experience easier and more pleasant.
Increased competitiveness. A practice that is more engaged with its patients may gain efficiency. From setting up that next appointment to facilitate easier and more convenient ways to pay for treatment, these efficiency gains will show in the bottom line.
Increased revenue. Patient experience is always at the forefront, but a natural result of focusing on the patient and efficiency is revenue gain. Increasing patient engagement encourages patients to stay with their practice longer. Their checkups and follow-up visits will support the health of the practice.
Improvement in this area has many benefits, but selecting technologies that deliver the required results isn’t always a clear choice. Start by understanding people’s most pressing concerns about healthcare and seek solutions in those areas.
Achieving Patient Engagement
Over half of people reported that most healthcare organizations fall short of their expectations of good experiences. Providers can rise to expectations by focusing more on personalization and meaningful interactions, including understanding the unique needs and worries of the people they serve. For example, some patients are deeply worried about their ability to pay for healthcare services.
Adopting technologies that are designed to address these needs and include easier payment options keeps patients engaged. For example, some providers systems allow people to set up easy, convenient and affordable payment options with a 100% approval rate that avoids the worry of having credit declined.
Moving Into The Future
Healthcare providers are operating in an entirely new environment. Patients no longer want to be just the recipients of service but rather want to be part of the process. They want to experience better health and to do so on their own terms, using the engagement tools and technologies they already enjoy.
The importance of a patient engagement solution only will grow in the future as patients get accustomed to more personalized and simplified experiences. The benefits to organizations that adopt these strategies and innovations are great and include happier and more connected patients along with stronger revenue and growth.