As healthcare increases in complexity, Patient Engagement has become widely recognized as a critical ingredient for a high-quality healthcare system. To achieve successful patient engagement at your healthcare practice, you need to take deliberate actions towards shifting your care model from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based care (VBC).
The burden of ensuring good health outcomes and avoiding risk in the VBC model, falls heavily on the healthcare system. It is important to meaningfully engage patients and their family members in achieving their own health goals to help alleviate that burden.
There are many challenges behind achieving patient engagement and improving risk management strategies in your healthcare practice. Barriers to successful patient engagement can arise from both patients and physicians.
Barriers on the Patient Side
Effective healthcare requires clear communication and understanding between a patient and their care team. This empowers a patient to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. Therefore, it’s imperative that the patient understands the medical information that is being provided to them. Some patients prefer a high-level overview of their diagnosis while others may request a much more detailed explanation of their diagnosis and treatment plan. In both instances several factors should be kept top of mind when physicians interact with their patients.
- Patient’s cultural background: They may not feel comfortable asking medical questions or advice.
- Patient’s education level: A lower level of education may hinder patients from understanding medical information, processes, or treatment options.
- Cost consideration: High medical costs may prevent patients from seeking appropriate treatment.
- Patient’s motivation: Some patients may lack the motivation to take the necessary steps to improve their health.
Barriers on the Physician Side
Physicians face their own set of challenges in the processes of encouraging patient engagement.
- Lack of modern technology: Patient engagement technology is a recent concept in healthcare. Many physicians have not yet invested in a technology that provides a way for patients to keep in constant communication with their care team. The Patient Engagement platform offered by iPatientCare effectively addresses this lack of communication between physicians and patients.
- Lack of training: Without proper training of new online tools, physicians can begin to feel overwhelmed. Investing in training will enable practices to use the platforms to their full potential.
- Lack of time: Physicians often lack sufficient time to allocate more than 10 or 15 minutes to each patient.
- Lack of patient feedback: The most effective way to evaluate your organization’s patient engagement success is to ask your patients for their feedback. Physicians may feel they have provided appropriate medical education, while the patient is left feeling overwhelmed or unfit to take the first steps to involvement in their own healthcare. Without asking your patient’s what they think, miscommunication may become commonplace.
Strategies to Improve Patient Engagement
- Maintain patient-provider relationships with frequent and clear communication. Encourage patients to be well informed and involved in improving and maintaining their health.
- Expand patient engagement with access to user-friendly patient portals, where they can view their updated health information and submit questions to their physician.
- Implement a shared decision-making process between patients and providers. This helps establish trust with your patients and makes them feel that their needs and preferences are understood.
- Utilize visual aids like diagrams and videos, that help clarify healthcare decisions to the patient. Provide patients and their family members with appropriate informational materials and literature about treatment options and outcomes, so they have a more clear understanding of the care they are receiving.
- Provide patients with peer support when they are facing major health challenges, particularly when they are diagnosed with a life-altering illness.
Interactions between patients and providers across the continuum of care contribute to patient experience and influence a patient’s willingness and ability to engage with the healthcare system. Innovations in healthcare delivery and technology have allowed clinicians to enhance delivery and access to health services and information. However, the evolution to a more patient-centered system is not a simple task. Physicians will be expected to play a central role in assuring coordination of care across the continuum.
iPatientCare is a full suite of innovative healthcare products and value-added services that help you improve the health of your patients by enhancing patient care through care management, coordination, analytics, and reducing the costs of care delivery.