Before physicians can successfully transition their practices to value-driven care, they must first enlist the help of one of their greatest assets: the patient. Even with the right technologies and care management programs in place, practices won't be able to positively impact outcomes or influence costs without an involved and engaged patient population.
Engaged patients are more likely to receive recommended screenings, follow treatment guidelines, and lead a healthy lifestyle. They are more loyal as well. A patient base that is both loyal and engaged is a major advantage for practices.
So what does an engaged patient look like? Simply put, engaged patients are ones that:
• Understand their conditions;
• Understand the treatment and what it will do for them; and
• Believe the treatment will make a difference in their lives.
The last point is of particular interest: When a patient trusts that a treatment will be effective, there's a much higher chance it will work for them and produce the desired results.
According to a study conducted by Gallup Research and IMI Healthcare for the AARP, more activated patients are:
• 19.2 percent less likely to experience a medical error
• 12.8 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge
• 12.6 percent less likely to have poor coordination among providers
• 15.1 percent less likely to lose confidence in the healthcare system.
In other words, when a patient trusts a treatment will be effective, there's a much higher chance it will work for them and produce the desired results.
Patient engagement is becoming a strategic priority as more revenue becomes tied to engagement levels through the Stage 2 requirements of meaningful use and outcomes-based reimbursement models. A National eHealth Collaborative survey found more than 85 percent of healthcare stakeholders believe patient engagement is very important to their organization.
Involving patients in their care is essential to improving outcomes and lowering costs. But where should a practice begin? Here are five strategies physicians can employ to jumpstart their engagement efforts:
1. Start a dialogue. The best way to know what patients need is to ask. Find out what challenges patients face when it comes to seeking care, managing their health, and following treatment plans. Town hall meetings and online forums are both excellent ways to start a dialogue with patients and encourage more open communication. Secure messaging and other online tools help keep conversations going, leading to stronger relationships and increased satisfaction.