Patient engagement is a growing area of discussion in the past few years and is slowly becoming an inherent component of healthcare industry around the world today. It is also becoming vital to achieve the triple aim in healthcare- Improving patient experience, advancing population health and reducing costs. When executed in a right way effective patient engagement results in higher operational efficiencies, increased patient satisfaction and compliance. In short, Patient engagement is nothing but a fruitful collaboration between the healthcare providers and the patients.
The first level towards effective patient engagement is undertaking few key preparatory steps such as:
Understanding your environment:
Gauging and evaluating the environment before undertaking the process of patient engagement allows in getting an insight into the factors that affect decisions, identifying stakeholders and developing a strategy.
Allocating sufficient resource:
Time and budget must be kept in mind keeping all stakeholders in loop. This should be done in a clear, open minded methodology so that any decisions taken in the future will be in consensus with patients and the health care providers.
Duration of the project:
The duration of the project must be planned in advance before it is re-evaluated again.
Preparation for engagement:
To be engaged in a partnership that takes the opinions and view of the patients into the plan and developing a relationship early on.
Making it sustainable:
To make patient engagement last it must not be seen as a separate once in a while initiative rather it should be integrated into the routine healthcare business practices.
Following the preparation are the core steps toward patient engagement. The key elements of which include:
Establishing a vision:
Any plan requires a vision or a long term goal to be executed properly. This can be achieved by defining goals at an individual, organizational and healthcare team level by involving all the associated parties.
Creating a culture within the organization:
The staff must be trained and educated about engagement being an integral part of the practice from early on. Also when all the stakeholders have contributed to the creating of a vision, they would be more active towards achieving it.
Use of the right technology:
Research says that globally one third of internet users go online to seek medical information. Keeping the current trends of healthcare technology in mind it becomes imperative for an organization to put out the right tools directed towards their patients. Few example are creating a communication platform, 24*7 access to their medical records, better insurance plans etc, there are many digital technologies for healthcare professionals to serve many patients.
This must be planned and defined in accordance to the organization’s patients. Some characteristics of patient empowerment include seeking health information, participating in decision making and sticking to treatment plans. This can be achieved through methods like surveys, creating focus groups and getting patients involved on to the online communication portal. Staff and providers must help patients with the portal and also encourage them to ask questions. There are ways with which healthcare organisations and hospitals could create health awareness.
Monitor, evaluate and adapt:
The plan must be continuously evaluated to check if targets are achieved such as how many patients have signed up on the portal, how it is progressing, addressing complaints/issues and adapt new changes as and when required.
In conclusion when healthcare practices start involving their patients with relevant tools,resources and support it will not only keep them engaged long term and help build relationships but also enhance the healthcare organization’s overall outlook and business.