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By: Christina Rosario

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October 31st, 2015

3 Ways to Start Improving Your Patient Engagement Today

Value-Based Care

Patient EngagementWith the shift away from a "fee-for-service" framework toward a more consumer-centric "value-based" healthcare delivery model, physicians have had to take a proactive approach to marketing their practice similar to the way retailers and consumer goods entities attract and retain clients.

While designing effective marketing campaigns may not be the major focus for most healthcare providers, it should be a priority. In this new environment, strengthening engagement strategies is imperative for financial stability.

A 2010 study revealed patient engagement strategies improve compliance among patients with chronic conditions, reduce the number of visits to primary care physicians annually and increase patient experience scores. All three measures directly, and indirectly impact the cost of health care. With not much emphasis on controlling costs and improving outcomes, it is clear that medical providers need to focus on developing engagement programs that encourage patients to be an active partner in their health and wellness journey.

Three Ways to Improve Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a process that encourages healthcare consumers to become personally invested in their own health. There are myriad techniques to encourage that personal investment, here are three.

Design an Engagement Strategy

Marketing professionals working with retail and finance customers encourage their clients to build a relationship strategy with their target audience. Physicians and clinicians can take the same approach. As part of a practice engagement strategy, encourage an organization-wide culture of consumer-oriented service. Create a strategy that enables staff members to suggest, implement and fund innovative change.

Frontline registration personnel see first hand what works and what creates challenges for patients.  Front office staff should feel their suggestions are valid and appreciated. Likewise, encourage patient feedback, and when appropriate, make changes to the way you deliver services based on comments received.

Eliminate Barriers to Personal Investment

Myriad reasons impact a patient's decision not to take responsibility for his or her own health. Non-compliance may be a result of financial constraints, social pressure, fear or lack of information about prescriptions and treatment plans. Go beyond quantitative measures and dig deeper into possible barriers in the patient's environment. Naturally, physicians can gather quantitative measures via exam room discussions and financial interviews and capture qualitative measures utilizing surveys published on the practice website or social media pages.

The project may include both paper methods (mailed surveys) and electronic channels. For patients who experience fear or uncertainty, linking resources on web pages to articles about chronic conditions, applying for insurance or financial assistance and finding a support group can empower an otherwise hesitant patient to make the commitment to invest in his or her health.

Utilize communication channels that fit your patient population groups. Approximately 4 in 5 Internet users report they have looked for answers to medical questions online. While that statistic is encouraging at first glance, more than 90 million adults living in the US either do not fully understand health information accessed or do not know how to use it to improve their health. It is essential that web content, and other informative information, is delivered in an easy to read and digest format. Automated referrals and coordination of care components can reduce confusion for people with low health literacy and improve engagement levels.

Aim for Transparency

Transparency builds trust. Whether it is posting standard fee schedules and co-payment rules near the check-out station, or populating your online web pages with resources and a plethora of details about your providers and your practice, patients want to know as much as you as they can. Knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence drives improved engagement. Accurate, useful information about every procedure, test ordered or payment option you provide to your patients will work toward building a solid relationship.

Patients who take an active role in managing their health tend to be more compliant and more satisfied with their health care journey.

Key points to remember to improve patient engagement include:

  • Design a practice-specific engagement strategy
  • Create a culture that supports consumer-centric services
  • Relationships are built on trust and transparency.

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About Christina Rosario

Christina Rosario is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, a leading provider of healthcare IT solutions for medical practices and billing companies. When she's not helping ADS clients boost productivity and profitability, she can be found browsing travel websites, shopping in NYC, and spending time with her family.

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