Patient engagement is important to any healthcare organization that is concerned with improving their quality of care, profitability and overall standard as an institution that treats sick people i.e patients. Hence, healthcare organizations should always seek How to Increase Patient Engagement within their care system and structure. Patient engagement can be simply defined as the level in which a patient is actively involved in the care they receive. It is, of course, a lot broader than this. Patient engagement is also the level in which a patient is actively involved in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making their own healthcare decisions. On the provider’s side, patient engagement is a strategy used to achieve the Triple Aim of improved health outcomes, which consists of improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.
To achieve a good level of involvement or engagement, a patient must be supplied with relevant and applicable information about their health. This may seem like it has been practiced forever, yet many patients have expressed concern with the fact that they are on several medications, ordered to exercise more and return in a month or two to see if things have improved. This isn’t patient engagement, because the patient isn’t really involved or has a clear understanding of health concerns and what all medications and treatments mean to improve their wellbeing.
Why Does Patient Engagement Matter?
Studies have shown that patients who are engaged in managing their own health have more trust in their healthcare provider and their quality of care. They also tend to be healthier and have better illness outcomes than patients who are disengaged from or unclear about their own health plans. While some people are happy to let the responsibility lie with their healthcare provider, more and more patients are choosing to become involved in their own health plans when the opportunity is available to them. The more information a patient has about their own health, the more capable they are of making healthy, smart decisions, and ultimately sticking to the plan of treatment.
Patient engagement helps patients feel like they are in control of decisions being made, which in turn makes them more likely to take responsibility for their health outcomes. Feeling helpless, on the other hand, can lead to poor decision making and can even decrease a patient’s chance of overcoming certain illnesses.
Do Patients Even Want This?
More and more patients are interested in being more engaged and being more active and informed about the care they receive and their health in general. It is also suggested that nearly half of Americans are either extremely interested or very interested in being able to check their vital signs on their smartphones, tablets, or computers. The increase in physical activity trackers (Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.) show that there is a trend in people wanting to monitor their own health and physical activity throughout the day.
This is just one aspect of patient engagement, it points to an overall interest. The internet has also allowed for people to take a more active role in their treatment, as they now have access to health information in the language they understand and numerous websites where answers can be found. Sites such as WebMD.com, Healthline.com, and MayoClinic.org allow individuals to seek out specific diagnoses according to symptoms. Action like this allows the patient to take information into their treating physician and have a dialog.
How Can Healthcare Providers Encourage Patient Engagement?
Studies have shown that given their own tools and access to information, patients will engage in their own health and that patient engagement is most effective when encouraged by a care team or medical professional. For healthcare providers, patient engagement comes down to accurate data, which can be hard to come by in the healthcare field. Data is coming from a variety of different doctors and hospitals and is oftentimes in different formats. The more an office is able to focus on procuring and organizing quality data, the easier it will be for physicians to make informed decisions, and the more likely patients will be able to be involved in the decision-making process.
The more comfortable a patient is with their healthcare provider, the more likely they are to ask questions and give an exact history. It’s important to remember that patients hold the most important details about their health – whether they fully understand this fact or not – and the more information they share, the better able everyone is to make informed decisions, not just when it comes to procedures, but when encountering opportunities to engage in preventative care such as diet and exercise.
Healthcare providers can also make this data more available to their patients through online portals and increased communication between doctor and patient. By giving patients more access to their own data, doctors send a message that the patient is responsible for their own health, and by having more accurate data, doctors can make themselves more efficient and effective in treating individual patients with their individual needs.
Ultimately, patients and doctors have the same goals: to keep the patient healthy, and by encouraging patient engagement, both patients and doctors are more likely to achieve this goal.