An increasing amount of evidence shows that patients who actively engage with their health care providers have better clinical outcomes and incur lower costs. Practices that emphasize patient engagement can improve patient satisfaction and contribute to better clinical outcomes with fewer complications and re-hospitalizations.
Last year, in an effort to take patient engagement seriously, the Cleveland Clinic committed to several initiatives, including a series of pilot projects allowing patients to enter data into their own records. The information would then become part of the clinical workflow, enabling doctors to track patients’ progress, and modify care accordingly. They also committed to ongoing patient education making sure “patients understand what’s going with them, as well as what’s supposed to happen next.”
These type of changes prove to have a significant impact on how patients interact with their providers and understand their own care. Improved patient engagement benefits not only the patient, but also physicians and hospitals. “If patients understand their condition, know the symptoms to watch for, know why they’re taking medication and how to implement the necessary lifestyle changes, the chances of them getting and staying healthy are significantly improved.”
So what are additional steps your practice can take to help drive patient engagement?
Here are three quick tips.
1. Educate patients and their families. With the patient’s consent, welcome their family’s interest in their care. Simplify your message as needed when relaying information and treatment options. Remember, a patient’s family might be able to help provide information that may be missing or unclear in the patient’s records.
2. Create a patient advisory board. Recruit a small, committed group of patients to give you feedback on your practice. Create a forum to better understand ways to improve the hurdles your patients and their families may face when dealing with your office. Have your advisory board evaluate our your intake forms, waiting room, appointment process and other patient-facing areas.
3. Make the process convenient: make it electronic.
A 2013 Accenture study found that 82% of individuals believe electronic access to their medical records is important. Of those surveyed, 77% prefer to book their appointments online, 76% want to be able to request prescription refills electronically, and 74% would like to receive appointment reminders via email or text.
In fact, when patients whose physicians did not offer electronic records were asked whether they would consider switching because of this, 41% of respondents answered yes. This is a compelling reason for giving patient online access through the use of EMRs and other telehealth software (think eVisit). Oftentimes patients want to be engaged, they simply need the tools to do so.
1. James, J. “Patient Engagement.” February 2013. Health Affairs/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Available at: http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2013/rwjf404446
2. A Leadership Resource for Patient and Family Engagement Strategies. Health
Research & Educational Trust, Chicago: July 2013. Accessed at www.hpoe.org
3. Rowe, J. “5 ways Cleveland Clinic improved its patient engagement strategies.” October 2013. Healthcare IT News. Available at: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/5-ways-cleveland-clinic-improved-its-patient-engagement-strategies
4. Rowe, J. “Top 3 perks of patient engagement.” June 2013. Healthcare IT News. Available at: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/top-3-perks-patient-engagement
5. Accenture Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement: US Research Recap. October 2013. Accenture. Available at: http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture-Consumer-Patient-Engagement-Survey-US-Report.pdf