The healthcare industry is working to find patient engagement strategies that will work not only for the short-term but also in the long-term goals of keeping healthy for people. People have different types of personalities, including those people that are very hands-on, or those that are purely spectators to most of life. This is also the case when talking about healthcare and patients who are involved in making sure they get well, while others who sometimes choose not to help themselves.
One of the big drives that healthcare professionals have made is to help patients to be more engaged with their health because people who are more engaged are more likely to get better and to stay healthy for longer. Just as with personalities, there are patients that gobble up information and details like candy, while others feel overwhelmed and besieged by too much information and go into a kind of shutdown mode. So, how do doctors and other healthcare staff help the wide range of different types of patients? Right now, there is no perfect answer, but they provide as many resources and opportunities as possible. Some of the strategies are simple, while others truly involve work from both patient and professional.
Almost every healthcare organization has included the ability for patients to access their information, send confidential requests to their healthcare provider, and renew prescriptions without having to schedule an office visit. Why this is considered among patient engagement strategies is because it provides a means by which a doctor and patient can securely communicate that doesn’t include making an appointment. Patients are able to see test results, again without interrupting their daily life for a visit. Many organizations incorporate items such as:
- Appointment scheduling
- Health benefits and coverage
- Ability to update personal information
- Make payment
- Fill out medical forms before an appointment
- Research educational and informative materials
One of the most frustrating things that doctors run into is when their appointments don’t show up. It is a loss of time, effort, and resources that could be dedicated to many other labors. Many offices have adopted an automated messaging system that calls patients to remind them about appointments, remind patients to fill prescriptions, and remind patients of payments. The messaging can be either voice or text messaging, which can reach almost all patients within a healthcare organization.
Assistance or Follow Up Help
A major complaint that patients have, especially after being released from the hospital, is that they feel they were quickly wheeled out and they are left to their own devices. However, if you asked the healthcare staff if this was the case they would probably vehemently disagree saying that they provided both verbal and written instructions, including the fact that the patient should follow up with their primary physician. Who is right? It is all a matter of perspective, and this is why having someone within the system check in on the patient after chaos has settled down. This advocate is able to answer questions that have arisen, explain details about what happened and what is expected going forward, and can also aid in setting appointments.
There are some patients that aren’t able or aren’t willing to participate in their own health and recovery. For some of those patients, they have family members that are more than capable of stepping forward to help in this respect. When an aging father or mother is able to rely on the support of family members that can navigate the internet, drive to and from appointments and fill medications as needed, the likelihood of recovery or at least a better standard of living is greatly increased.
Some medical professionals had been reluctant to divulge private information about a patient’s health, but with an aging baby boomer population, some of these hesitancies have been set aside for the betterment of the patient. Also, going along with this is that many caregivers to ailing patients have worked hard to be informed about medical conditions, medications and physical rehabilitation. Everyone is working to make sure that each patient is receiving the best possible care, whether that is found inside or out of a hospital or doctor’s office.
Most doctors would tell you that they don’t stop being a doctor when they hang up their jacket; they also aren’t just an authority figure when a patient is sitting in front o
f them. A vital patient engagement strategy is taking a few extra moments during a visit to help a patient understand how to traverse the patient portal structure, ask if there are other outside questions or concerns, or call if a patient hasn’t shown up for an essential appointment. This attention to details goes a long way to creating a trusting relationship and breaking down the barriers of subordinate and professional to a level of familiarity with one another.
There are a number of other approaches that are being utilized for patient engagement strategies throughout the world. There are probably a number of others that are just waiting in the wings to be applied more regularly, and yet others that have yet to be developed. This is one of the great things about the age in which we live in is that there are great things right in front of us and greater things yet to come. We can benefit from them all, and our health can be advanced as we apply these strategies each day.