Practices can build engagement through relevant, targeted messaging and by making communication as easy as possible.
The shift toward value-based care (VBC) is increasingly taking hold in health care as practices continue to face challenges with stagnant fee-for-service reimbursement rates and medical cost inflation.
To succeed in a VBC environment, practices must adopt patient engagement as a foundational capability. Better patient engagement not only helps keep patients healthy and from needing higher-cost care or hospitalization, but also builds loyalty, helps meet quality measures, and reduces risk. In this article, we explore why patient engagement is critical to VBC success and discuss steps to engage patients digitally for effective care management.
Why is patient engagement critical to VBC success?
Engaging patients in their care can lead to better health outcomes. When patients feel they have provider guidance, two-way communication, and the empowerment to self-serve when needed, they are more likely to follow their physician's advice, adhere to referrals, undergo necessary tests, and make necessary lifestyle changes. By establishing a strong patient-physician relationship, health care providers can empower patients to take control of their health and make more informed decisions.
Patient engagement can also foster loyalty and continuity of care. By partnering with patients throughout their health care journey, practices can create a positive patient experience and a trusted relationship with their patients, increasing their propensity to follow through on recommended actions and tasks to improve their conditions. By offering accessible digital patient engagement tools and nurturing patient relationships, organizations can also retain patients and reduce the likelihood of them seeking care elsewhere.
Many VBC programs include patient satisfaction as a measurement. By engaging patients and addressing their care needs, organizations can enhance patient satisfaction scores and meet quality measures. Through comprehensive engagement efforts, including post-visit surveys and ongoing communication, providers can improve patient experience and ensure compliance with VBC contract measures.
Engaging patients proactively helps to keep them healthy and avoid high-cost care. By delivering more routine, low-cost care and maintaining regular contact, providers can identify and address health issues before they escalate. This can help organizations reduce costs and minimize the need for expensive interventions. Engaging patients in their health management helps to prevent adverse events and promotes timely interventions, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes, quality measures, and VBC reimbursements.
Steps to engage patients digitally
To support a VBC model, health care organizations should focus on creating meaningful engagement throughout the patient's journey. This includes contacting patients at the right time through the right channel with relevant messages. For example, by leveraging automated wellness campaigns and reminders, practices can bridge care gaps and encourage patients to take proactive steps toward self-care, such as scheduling annual wellness visits and immunizations.
Consider the following steps to engage patients digitally in health management for success in VBC initiatives:
Patient engagement is crucial for health care organizations to succeed in value-based care. By embracing digital tools and fostering a culture of patient engagement, providers can improve health outcomes and meet quality measures. Organizations must proactively engage patients throughout their health care journey and guide them in utilizing online tools for effective care management. By prioritizing patient engagement, health care organizations can navigate the challenges of VBC and deliver better care experiences while reducing costs, building patient loyalty, and improving care quality.
Curtis Sherbo is vice president of product management, patient engagement at athenahealth.