Ajay Prasad is the CEO of GMR Web Team, a full-service healthcare digital marketing agency focused on patient acquisition and retention.
Patient engagement has always been an important component of healthcare. One study found that engagements that increase patient activation can also reduce costs and contribute to about 69% of all better health outcomes. This is why every practitioner today should focus on increasing engagement to improve patient outcomes and retention. For your patient engagement solutions to work, you have to base your strategies on the much-evolved health consumer preferences in this digital era.
What is patient engagement in this day and age?
The overall objective in healthcare hasn’t changed—you’re still looking to improve patient outcomes. However, effective patient engagement solutions look a lot different today, with digital technology permeating all aspects of modern living. As you design your strategy, consider key objectives such as:
• How can you leverage smartphones, text, the internet and video chat to communicate with patients?
• What tools can you use to maximize virtual/in-person interactions between patients and their healthcare providers?
• How can you help patients stay on track with their treatment plans in their day-to-day lives?
Why is it important to keep your practice growing?
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Research shows that 90% of patients demand technology-driven care and engagement. They are increasingly embracing solutions that can facilitate their preferred care experiences. About 66% of them say they don’t mind using apps and wearable health trackers to boost outcomes. By meeting these consumer expectations, you can differentiate and consistently grow your practice in a highly competitive environment.
4 Crucial Patient Engagement Strategies For Boosting Customer Retention
1. Implement patient-driven engagement systems.
To raise activation rates, design your patient engagement tools to suit your patients’ healthcare concerns. Priorities can vary widely, such as dental patients having the ability to remotely self-examine their teeth using smartphones and send images to their dentist for a diagnosis. Similarly, an endocrinologist may boost diabetes patients’ activation with continuous mobile-based monitoring of glucose levels and real-time alerts. These strategies address specific healthcare needs and can help increase patient engagement and enhance positive behavior.
2. Let your patients have a say.
Every successful practitioner appreciates “informed consent” as a key pillar of doctor-patient trust. While this standard remains as relevant today as ever, it’s not enough to guarantee sustainable relationships between caregivers and their patients. This is because modern health consumers demand more than just doctors’ prescriptions and explanations.
Most people are eager to learn more about their treatment options and want a bigger say in their care decisions. You can meet this expectation with shared decision making, which reinforces informed consent. This strategy can help you maintain fruitful engagements with patients, improving compliance with treatment and health outcomes. It’s an effective way to build trust and longer-lasting relationships with your patients.
3. Educate your patients.
Patient education is crucial for fostering treatment compliance, self-care and improving lifestyle changes outside of the doctor’s office. Sometimes, the information you share with patients must be highly personalized to generate the intended health outcomes. For example, a diabetic patient could benefit from data specific to their current blood sugar readings and target glucose range. There are various ways to share education resources for your patients, including:
• Verbal instructions on the telephone.
• SMS texting.
• Email newsletters.
• PDFs and recorded videos via patient portals.
• Website links.
4. Adopt digital patient engagement solutions.
Technology, especially automation, can streamline patient-doctor interactions and elevate overall care experiences. Digital patient engagement tools are highly effective in this area and can boost activation rates for any healthcare practice. Here’s how you may leverage such a resource for better patient outcomes, satisfaction and retention:
• Patient surveys and reviews: With today’s digital tools and devices, it’s much easier to conduct post-appointment patient surveys and generate online reviews. Responses can help you identify any roadblocks in the care experience, encouraging patients to come back in the future.
• Continuous monitoring/management: To optimize patient activation and health outcomes, ensure that care doesn’t end when patients leave your office. The care journey has multiple touchpoints where engagement with caregivers is necessary to stay up to date on treatment progress and compliance. This can be through text, patient portals and mobile apps.
• Communication: Highly effective digital patient engagement solutions support seamless communication between healthcare practitioners and their patients. Reduce no-show rates with SMS reminders and online rescheduling. By facilitating two-way messaging, patients can also promptly reach out to doctors or respond to urgent messages.
• Telemedicine: It eliminates unnecessary travel, allowing more patients to keep up with their treatment plans and maintain active engagement with their healthcare providers. When you integrate virtual services with your EHR system, you can efficiently share your patients’ diagnostic data and collaborate better on treatment with fellow practitioners.
As research shows, most patients are ready to engage and play a bigger role in their care. The ability to meet this expectation using consumer-friendly patient engagement solutions is currently an important differentiator for healthcare practices.
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Author: Ajay Prasad, Forbes Councils Member