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Why Patient Engagement in Healthcare Matters

$150 billion. That’s how much no-shows cost healthcare organizations each year, according to some estimates. While scheduling software and automated text and email reminders can help reduce the number of missed appointments your organization sees to a certain extent, one of the best ways to reduce no-shows and improve revenue overall is by improving patient engagement..

But what exactly is patient engagement? Why should it matter to your organization, and what steps can you take to implement a patient engagement strategy? Keep reading to find out!

What Does Patient Engagement in Healthcare Really Mean?

Patient engagement both is and isn’t exactly what it sounds like. On one level, it’s essential for patients to be engaged with their healthcare providers by answering questions thoroughly, play an active role in making decisions about their treatment, and to follow through with the self-administered elements of a treatment plan.

However, it’s equally vital for patients to have the knowledge and access to the information that will aid in their ability to make those decisions, follow treatments, and communicate their needs to a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.

Patient engagement is the result of including patients in their treatment process and incorporating their needs and desires into that treatment. For that to happen, patients must have some health literacy—that is, the ability of a patient to understand their needs, treatment options, and how and where to access additional information.

Why Does Patient Engagement in Healthcare Matter?

Patient engagement and building trust between providers and patients is vital for long-term health. Not only do engaged patients tend to adhere to treatment plans better than patients who aren’t engaged, but they’re also more likely to seek care.

Benefits of Patient Engagement in Healthcare for Patients:

Patient engagement can benefit healthcare organizations—and we’ll get to those benefits next—but it’s ultimately the patients who stand to benefit the most from increased engagement and health literacy. Here are some ways that can happen:

  • Improved self-management and adherence to treatment plans: When patients are engaged and are using their health literacy to make decisions in partnership with healthcare professionals, they take more ownership over their care. Additionally, increased engagement and health literacy make patients less susceptible to misunderstand or neglect their treatment.
  • More preventative visits, but less healthcare visits overall: When patients have the health literacy to ask questions, use the healthcare resources available to them, and understand the information they receive, it empowers them to stay on top of their health. While this may lead to more regular visits, it’s also likely to reduce visits to emergency departments and other unexpected medical events.
  • Lowered healthcare costs: Just like how maintaining a car regularly tends to be less expensive than neglecting it until it breaks down, patients who check in with their providers regularly are less likely to be blindsided by costly medical needs.

Benefits of Patient Engagement in Healthcare for Providers:

As patients grow in their health literacy and engagement, healthcare organizations stand to benefit a great deal as well. Some notable benefits include:

  • Lowered costs: When patients are engaged and actively building their health literacy, it can lead to significant reductions in costs for healthcare organizations. This is because patients are more likely to use cost and time-saving assets like online scheduling and check in, and less likely to miss appointments.
  • Engaged patients help healthcare professionals work efficiently: Because engaged patients are more likely to follow through with their treatment plans, using IOT devices to monitor patient health metrics can be effective. When physicians, nurses, and physician assistants have access to the granular data produced by IOT devices, they can make accurate decisions quickly.
  • Patient engagement increases patient retention and revenue: When patients aren’t engaged in the healthcare process, they may be less likely to return for future treatments. When patients are engaged and have a greater health literacy, their treatment turns into a conversation that they’re naturally incentivized to keep going. As a result, engaged patients are less likely to forgo or miss future appointments, which can waste valuable time.

Essential Elements of a Patient Engagement Strategy

  • Prioritizing communication: Thorough, respectful, two-way communication is foundational for successfully engaging patients. Not only should communication allow patients toexpress their needs and concerns, but it should also meet them where they are best at communicating. Understanding how your patients are most receptive to communication is essential for communicating with them effectively.
  • Leveraging automation: While we began this article by saying automated reminders aren’t enough, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their place in an effective patient engagement strategy. However, they are most effective after other elements of your patient engagement strategy have been established. Automated communications can be effective, but only when they’re equally as thoughtful as the rest of the patient experience.
  • Creating a partnership: To engage your patients, make them partners in their care and treatment. Traditionally, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants have been seen by patients as aloof, unapproachable experts who dole out diagnoses and treatments somewhat mechanically. To engage patients, healthcare professionals need to break down those barriers and help their patients see their care as a partnership. While a healthcare professional is the guiding expert, teaching patients to take a more active role in selecting care options can increase their engagement.
  • Lean into data: Healthcare organizations are equipped to take in massive amounts of data from each patient they work with. By using data to segment patient populations, healthcare organizations and professionals can identify areas for risks and identify strategies that have successfully engaged patients in the past.

Continuing Education Company

It’s rare for a healthcare organization to be able to undergo vast, sweeping changes in how they operate. However, it’s been demonstrated that individuals within organizations who prioritize health literacy and patient engagement can have an organization-wide impact.

The benefits of patient engagement in healthcare for patients and providers are huge. Better patient outcomes, lower rates of patient attrition, increased revenue for providers, and less waste are just a few. But when your patients are highly engaged, there’s one other key benefit for providers: your organization attracts talent.

There’s no doubt that the last few years have been full of surprises and changes in the healthcare industry. During this time, one thing has been consistent: a competitive talent market. To attract talent in an industry facing huge talent shortages, you need to stand out. As a healthcare organization or system, having highly engaged patients will not only lead to numerous benefits for your bottom line, but it will also attract the best talent.

If your organization is currently looking for talent, turn to Continuing Education Company’s Career Center. By leveraging our extensive network of qualified professionals, we help organizations find the right candidates quickly and for a great value.

Healthcare organizations can target our professional database using our emailed Job Flashes, job postings and advertisements on our site, or through exhibition opportunities at our live CME conferences.

To learn more about posting a job or the many other valuable resources we offer recruiters, check out the Continuing Education Company’s recruiting options today.

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