One of the most talked about topics in healthcare is patient engagement. Patient’s who are engaged with their healthcare decision-making and care tend to be healthier and have more positive relationships with their providers.
Patient engagement involves many different aspects of a patient’s care but ultimately boils down to how involved a patient is with their medical provider, how accountable they are to their personal health, and how they are interacting with a practice on a day-to-day basis. This term is discussed at length in the medical community due to its effect on multiple aspects of a practice including revenue, patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction. For a new or small medical practice, making sure your patients stay active in their care is an instrumental part of running a successful business. To ensure that your practice is keeping patients involved, utilize these 5 tools for boosting patient engagement.
Tools for Patient Engagement:
1) Patient Portal
Probably one of the most widely recognized tools of patient engagement is the patient portal. The patient portal acts as a central hub that patients can access any time they are seeking to engage in their personal health or take more control of their payments. The patient portal offers many tools within itself that increase the level at which a patient can access their Personal Health Information (PHI) as well as schedule appointments and contact their physician. Patient portals raise the bar for patient-provider relationships by giving patients a simple and secure way to view their visit and payment history and make full or partial payments online. A messaging center can help patients address questions when they come up versus waiting for their next visit. Incorporating convenient online tools can improve patient engagement outcomes and help them manage their care and patient responsibilities.
2) Payment Plans
Patients who avoid their providers because of past-due medical bills or the uncertain cost of their medical care can now address their care with financial confidence. Not only does the patient portal help patients to understand the details of their bill, increasing engagement, but payment plans do this as well. For patients who have larger bills, they can often feel intimidated by how impossible medical care can seem to cost. With high deductible insurance plans on the rise, introducing payment plans can help patient’s feel more comfortable when it comes to paying for their medical care. In other words, by increasing the understanding and accessibility a patient has, providers can increase patient engagement.
3) Text Reminders
In the past, providers have experienced high numbers of no-shows for appointments even though they issued a courtesy phone-call reminder to their patients. No-shows impact a practice in a few ways. One of these ways being that when a patient doesn’t show for their visit, providers miss out on crucial payments for their time. In theory, by this spot being filled, other patients are unable to visit with their provider at that time. One solution to no-shows and increasing patient engagement is to offer text message reminders either in replacement of a phone call or in addition to one. Text reminders are more likely to catch the attention of a patient. Patients often avoid answering the phone if it is a number they do not recognize or if they are busy. By sending them text reminders, providers engage the patient no matter what they are doing. This method of patient engagement decreases no-show visits by giving them the opportunity to cancel a visit and reduces bottlenecks or delays in appointment workflows.
4) Mobile Communication
Almost everything patients do on a day-to-day basis is accomplished in the palm of their hand. Mobile communication is one of the top ways to improve patient engagement and develop an in-depth patient-provider relationship. This feature, similar to the patient portal, allows for a patient to address a question or concern with their provider right when their thought takes place. Whereas waiting until a visit or even until they can get to a desktop can cause a patient to forget or talk themselves out of addressing their concerns. Increasing ease-of-access is truly important to increasing patient engagement and mobile communication fits the bill.
5) Patient Education
While creating clear access to their provider is one of the most crucial tools in increasing patient engagement, patient education ties in terms of value. Helping your patients understand every aspect of their health and care helps boost their confidence when addressing their personal health goals. Educating your staff on how to discuss payments upfront and keeping the lines of communication open will instill trust in the patient and help them understand everything you’re doing. Providers should offer materials that help a patient not only understand their bill but each aspect of their care.
Implementing any of these 5 tools can be instrumental in improving the level of patient engagement at your practice, and boosting your revenue.