I hear the term “patient engagement” thrown around a lot these days, but what exactly does it mean?
The most common definition seems to be “engaging patients in their healthcare decisions to be healthier and have better outcomes,” but unfortunately many hospitals and physicians still operate as if it’s only to engage patients at the point of care. It’s almost as if patients stop being patients after their visit.
More than half of healthcare consumers would like to use their smartphones more to interact with healthcare providers but less than 15% of hospitals have a branded app to engage with their patients.
But the visit is only one small piece of the overall patient experience. Before, after, and in between, most patient interactions are often NOT with physicians and nurses – they’re with administrative or billing staff who may have no knowledge of the rest of the patient experience. How can organizations continue to engage patients when they are not onsite?
Healthcare organizations need to rethink their patient engagement efforts; patients can forget up to 80% of what their doctors told them by the time they reach the parking lot, which means there is little chance patients understand the care they just received. And, while more than half of healthcare consumers would like to use their smartphones more to interact with healthcare providers, less than 15% of hospitals have a branded app to engage with their patients.
Including a mobile-first patient engagement and communication strategy can transform a healthcare organization’s approach to engaging better with patients. This can help build health literacy, increase retention, and ultimately, improve outcomes.
Providing mobile applications for patients and their families can empower them to take a more active role in their care and stay connected with their physician by pushing and pulling content straight to and from the patient’s smartphone or tablet. Content like:
- Reminders for prescriptions, office visits, and more.
- Provider-specific medical education, including instructional videos and podcasts.
- Patient journaling, which can help providers collect valuable patient-recorded data that can improve outcomes and decrease readmissions.
Providing a HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging system can empower hospitals, health systems, and providers to securely communicate with each other and easily coordinate patient care across multiple locations. This can also enable physicians and administrative staff to quickly reach any member of their healthcare team anytime, anywhere, and on any device. And because they have better access to the most current information, they can better engage with their patients.
Today’s healthcare consumer is looking for the best value, convenience, and a better experience – an experience that meets their specific needs. Social media and other online tools are empowering patients to shop around for physicians and hospitals that not only provide the best care but also the best service. And service is more than having a good bedside manner – service means providing frequent, transparent, and valuablepatient communications. Approximately 7% of patients have switched healthcare providers due to poor customer experience and this could translate to a loss of $100 million in annual revenue for a large hospital.
It’s time organizations take advantage of the technology we have available to create a new paradigm for how we connect with patients. It’s time to rewire how we think of patient engagement – it’s not just at the point of service. Patient engagement means understanding how well your organization is serving the needs of its patients throughout the entire care continuum.