Behavioral Health Patient Engagement: A Key Driver for Success

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As healthcare consumerism rises, organizations must balance meeting patient demands while remaining financially secure. In the field of behavioral health and human services, where there is an ongoing shortage of qualified professionals, addressing staffing issues is an added complication. Behavioral health patient engagement solutions can improve patient experience and employee satisfaction, but how do you justify spending in a season where margin pressures impact every decision?

Measuring patient engagement's return on investment (ROI) is easier than you may think. In this article, we will discuss why patient engagement matters, list some of the warning signs of poor patient engagement, and examine how to use the key performance indicators (KPIs) you already measure to determine the impact of your patient engagement initiatives on your organization’s ROI.

What Are the Warning Signs of Poor Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is critical in behavioral health settings. Experts warn that if the mental health system fails to engage early, patients may drop out of treatment, leave school, lose employment and housing, and contemplate suicide.

Some of the warning signs of poor patient engagement may include:

  • Missing appointments, even when using appointment reminders
  • Not participating in therapy sessions or expressing resistance to treatment plans
  • Not taking medication as ordered
  • Refusing to take or read offered information about conditions, treatments, or medication
  • Self-medicating or new or re-occurring substance use disorder 
  • Giving negative feedback regarding mental health conditions or wellness practices
  • Dropping out of the program
  • Rising rates of emergency room utilization, inpatient treatment, and readmissions

Engaging patients in their mental health care can improve patient outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and enhance efficiency within care delivery workflows. When patients feel invested in their treatment, they are more likely to engage in shared decision making, adhere to mental health services, keep appointments, and follow through with health practices recommended by their trusted health professionals.

Key Metrics for Measuring Behavioral Health Patient Engagement ROI

Behavioral health patient engagement: entrepreneur presenting at a meeting

As value-based care becomes more prevalent, increasing patient engagement is critical. In behavioral health care, organizations that understand the following metrics can gain a competitive advantage, achieve better health outcomes and improve ROI.

Patient Activation Measures (PAM)

You already use this validated survey to assess patients' knowledge, health management skills, and ability to navigate the healthcare system confidently. Patient activation measures surveys can also help you measure the ROI of your patient engagement solution. Since higher PAM scores indicate that your patients are more activated and engaged, you can compare surveys from the pre- and post-implementation periods.

Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROM) Response Rates

Patient-reported outcome measures are self-administered surveys that evaluate emotional and physical well-being. In BHHS, PROs focus on emotions, thoughts, and participation in social interactions and daily activities. You can measure response rates before and after implementation to assess the success of patient engagement.

Patient Portal Adoption and Utilization Rate

Patient portals are an integral part of a comprehensive EHR solution and are also helpful in promoting patient engagement. Portals drive patient engagement by providing a hub for self-scheduling and managing appointments, reviewing records, initiating or responding to messages, and completing periodic assessments. 

To measure ROI, track the percentage of patients who enroll in and actively use the patient portal. High adoption and utilization signal that patients are engaged in accessing their health data electronically. One way to increase portal use is to provide a seamless experience. You can implement an EHR that directly interfaces with your organization's patient engagement software. 

Secure Messaging Volume

HIPAA-compliant messaging allows behavioral health and human services patients and providers to communicate electronically in a secure and asynchronous manner. It's a vital component of behavioral health care because it helps ensure that patient information is confidential and that healthcare providers can meet patients where they are. 

Measure the volume of secure messages exchanged between patients and providers through the patient portal and patient engagement platform to understand the impact of secure messaging better. To increase the volume of secure messaging, you can implement the following strategies:

  • Create internal protocols that ensure your team answers messages promptly
  • Use an auto-response to communicate this policy to patients when they send messages
  • Choose a reliable platform that meets HIPAA security requirements to facilitate communication with patients
  • Consider tone, language, and timing when composing messages that align with programming goals
  • Establish protocols for how to handle emergencies

Program Adherence Rates 

Mental health program adherence is a category of ROI measurements that can be calculated using various KPIs. The following KPIs can help measure program adherence at the organization level, by provider, or by patient. Use this information to identify areas for improvement.

Treatment attendance rate

Track attendance rates for scheduled online and in-person treatment sessions or therapy appointments. Calculate the KPI as the percentage of appointments attended out to the total appointments scheduled over a period of time. 

Cancellation to reschedule ratio

This ratio can help you understand patient engagement by evaluating appointment management efficiency and success. Calculating the dropout rates of patients who terminate treatment prematurely can also serve as an inverse proxy for measuring program non-adherence.

To calculate the cancellation reschedule ratio, you would divide the number of appointments that are canceled and later rescheduled by the total number of canceled appointments within a specific time period. Tracking this ratio over time can help you assess the impact of strategies to reduce cancellations and improve patient follow-through with rescheduled appointments. 

Validated adherence scales

There are validated assessment scales specifically designed to measure patient adherence, such as the Medication Adherence Rating Scale (MARS). These can be administered periodically to gauge program participation.

Patient engagement app usage analytics

If delivering treatment via an app, web portal or telemedicine, usage data like logins, content views, activity tracking etc. can quantify engagement. Consistent usage indicates better adherence.

Outcomes monitoring

Reviewing clinical outcomes data like symptom rating scales, relapse rates, etc. can indirectly measure adherence. Better outcomes suggest patients engaged with the treatment program. 

Maximizing Behavioral Health Patient Engagement for Improved ROI

Behavioral health patient engagement: entrepreneur smiling at the camera

Behavioral health systems can analyze KPIs related to patient activation, program adherence, satisfaction, and platform adoption to better understand the impact of patient engagement on ROI. By focusing on these key metrics, leaders can justify investments, improve outcomes, and enhance overall performance. 

CaredFor is a leading-edge patient engagement platform from ContinuumCloud, designed to address the unique challenges of BHHS organizations. It aims to drive engagement and value by fostering community and connection among patients, families, caregivers and alumni. The intuitive and easy-to-use mobile app offers engagement strategies like telehealth, peer support, digital interventions, text messaging, monitored social media, and Care Journeys — supporting a personalized treatment plan.

Regarding data collection, the CaredFor app makes it easy to deliver surveys and record feedback. Moreover, the app seamlessly interfaces with ContinuumCloud’s comprehensive EHR, making it easier for clinicians to access patient data and ensure continuity of care. It also provides the added functionality of real-time insights for data-driven decision making. 

Connect with us today to learn how ContinuumCloud’s CaredFor app can help your organization.

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