“Patient engagement.” In healthcare, we use this term constantly – but what does it really mean for your patients and your practice?
Are you imagining better communication between your patients and providers? Patients that are more satisfied with your services and less likely to take their business elsewhere?
Perhaps you’re picturing Information and results that are more readily available to consumers or phone lines that are quieter, because patients are scheduling appointments and checking results online.
There are a number of benefits to patient engagement, most of which fall into the following categories:
- Improvements in patient satisfaction and the overall patient experience
- Patients who are empowered to play an active role in their own care
- Better operational efficiency
- Reduced cost of healthcare delivery
But how does a busy practice or an overburdened healthcare system achieve these results?
An enormous part of the equation is, of course, the human factor – well-chosen staff, appropriate training, and a culture of patient-centered care. The factor, however, that can most easily take your practice to the next level is technology.
Think about it: In late 2015, the Pew Research Center found that '68% of Americans had a smartphone– an increase from 2011’s finding of 35%'. Another Pew survey demonstrated that '84% of adults in the U.S. (including 58% of senior citizens) use the internet' (source).
With every passing year, more and more people – regardless of their generation – use technology to make their lives easier, whether they’re conducting an online meeting, buying gifts on a store’s mobile site with the click of a button, or even ordering a pizza without having to “Hold, please” or repeat a name and address multiple times.
Consumers – and providers – expect this convenience in their healthcare as well.
The most proactive and patient-centered healthcare providers were already using technology in this manner, even before the Meaningful Use objectives required them to do so. Why?
Because an engaged patient is a patient with better outcomes – such as being seen regularly for check-ups, getting screenings and immunizations, choosing healthier foods, and exercising.
The best part is that people are actually clamoring to be actively engaged in their health – just take a look at the popularity of wearable fitness devices and mobile apps for tracking various aspects of health. The same is true for healthcare.
The online world, medical records and patient engagement technology.
Although privacy concerns continue to be an issue, a majority of Americans surveyed now indicate that they would use a website that allowed them to have access to their medical records and to schedule appointments more easily (source).
Now imagine engaging these patients by providing a seamless healthcare experience, beginning with more control over appointment scheduling, encompassing their check-in process and provider interaction, and culminating with easy bill payment and post-visit access to the records and medical information that they need.
The possibilities for patient engagement are nearly limitless.
This blog series will continue to focus on using healthcare technology to enhance patient engagement and will touch on the ways in which a positive impact can be achieved during various aspects of the patient workflow, including registration, estimation/eligibility, billing, and results access.