“Tell me, and I’ll forget; teach me, and I’ll remember; involve me, and I will learn.”
Whether it was Benjamin Franklin or Chinese philosopher Xun Kuang who said it, one thing is sure: It probably wasn't regarding patient engagement. Nevertheless, the sentiment is spot on. But what is patient engagement exactly, and how do you achieve it?
Patient engagement is the result of a concerted effort by patients, their providers, health care organizations, and other stakeholders to empower, equip, and activate them to participate in their own care. It’s founded on the principles that patients get more from their health care when they actively participate; they have better health outcomes when they are proactive; and that when patients seek to understand their conditions, they are more likely to make decisions that have the most favorable health outcomes.
How to increase patient engagement is a complex topic, and many discussions focus on nebulous concepts rather than a clear understanding of the process. That isn’t the case here. What follows is an in-depth discussion of five evidence-based patient engagement strategies and the technologies to help you succeed.
1. Democratize Decision-Making and Promote Partnership
A unilateral and fee-for-service model of providing patient care has evolved into a patient-centered and value-based approach, which considers the individual's characteristics, preferences, and experiences. Thus, healthcare organizations, institutions, and universities are redoubling their efforts to involve patients and make their participation more active. Various strategies have been researched to increase patient engagement. Shared decision-making is one such strategy.
Medical care has its nuances, and behavioral health is no different. Shared decision making recognizes that patients and caregivers need to be on the same page about goals and treatment options. It emphasizes working together to develop a treatment plan and includes input from others who may be affected by the health care decision.
The concept of “care partnerships” goes even further as it considers the patient to be a co-equal member of the care team. The degree may be determined by the patient's skill levels and participation ability. When we consider patients as equally valued members and partner with them in providing treatment, we increase the likelihood of engagement.
Patient Engagement Technology for Shared Decision Making
A higher level of patient satisfaction, improved quality of life, and a more positive connection between doctor and patient are all outcomes of shared decision making. Communication and trust are the driving factors behind its success.
Patients want to interact with their providers when and where they choose. Since the pandemic, text messaging is more popular than email and telephone. Therefore, it’s not surprising that telehealth or teletherapy is an emerging tool for promoting shared decision making and includes not only video conferencing but also audio messaging, email, chat, and text messaging.
You can use technology to further empower patients to be full partners in their health care. Meet patients where they are by offering them multiple communication methods. For instance, the CaredFor app, ContinuumCloud’s patient engagement platform, enhances your efforts toward shared decision making by helping forge patient-provider relationships and extending the continuum of care.
From inside the mobile app, patients can initiate HIPAA-compliant direct channel telehealth visits. If they reach out after hours, they can connect to on-call clinicians or via other methods, including secure text messaging and email. ContinuumCloud's EHR solution also provides a variety of communications options that may be used by health care professionals in the field and in the office.
Shared decision making can be a powerful strategy to increase patient engagement and improve health outcomes. Patient activation is another. Research tells us that when patients seek to understand their condition fully, they make decisions that align with better health outcomes. Patient activation has various benefits, including lowering the number of preventable hospital readmissions and increasing patient engagement in their care.
To provide patients with a personalized and value-based health care experience, patient activation is essential. An activated patient has the knowledge, competency, and skills to manage their own health conditions and wellness. Patient activation measures focus on improving patient engagement by assessing and strengthening health literacy, encouraging preventive care, improving patient competency, and providing patient education.
Digital Tools to Increase Patient Engagement Through Activation
Implementing patient activation measures doesn’t have to be complicated. You might begin by using the telehealth features in the CaredFor app to provide your patients with information about their condition and ways to treat it. This may include having them track symptoms in order to recognize the early warning signs of relapse. Self-management initiatives teach behavioral health patients how to participate in their own care. For instance, you might teach coping skills to prevent negative outcomes or CBT techniques that help patients deal with specific symptoms.
Making sure your patients get accurate health information that is appropriate for their age and education level is integral to patient activation. The CaredFor app includes a patient education library with high-quality digital content designed to complement your health care system’s programming approach.
3. Implement Contingency Management
Industrywide, health care providers use patient engagement techniques to improve compliance. Behavioral and mental health specialists in substance use treatment are no exception. Research shows that low-cost contingency management (CM) programs delivered by behavioral health care clinicians help to increase patient engagement. When participants were incentivized, treatment attendance and utilization of services improved in patients who were enrolled in outpatient substance misuse treatment.
Contingency Management Technology to Increase Patient Engagement
Contingency management programming is successful evidence-based addiction treatment. However, clinical practices need to be faster to adopt. This is because implementing a contingency management program can be daunting.
The CaredFor app has built-in CM capabilities that make implementation easy and engaging. Patients can use the app to earn points and prizes. As the provider, you’ll set the goals and rewards. Incentivize positive behaviors and treatment objectives. For example, you can encourage patients to keep commitments (like attending therapy) or complete activities (such as participating in surveys and interacting with peers) by providing support or encouraging others on the platform.
4. Deliver Satisfying Patient Care
Improving your patients' satisfaction is critical to the growth and viability of any health care system. Most large organizations and population health management organizations use surveys to determine the impact of different elements of the patient experience on patient populations.
Patient satisfaction surveys are helpful for organizations of all sizes to gauge the patient experience and find opportunities for improvement. Patient satisfaction surveys are also important for determining when and where to make adjustments to provide high-quality patient experiences.
Increase Patient Engagement With Patient Satisfaction Technology
Gathering feedback is important to the health care improvement process for more reasons. Patient insights also help organizations understand what patients are experiencing, how you can improve, and how your services compare to other facilities.
Use surveys to obtain valuable insights like patient-reported outcomes, patient viewpoints on quality of life, and other information to increase patient engagement. There are multiple benefits as the most satisfied patients are not only engaged, but they are also loyal and more likely to suggest others to your practice.
The CaredFor app provides a fast, intuitive, low-cost approach to patient survey deployment. It’s easy to design and deliver effective and engaging patient satisfaction surveys.
5. Design a Better Patient Experience
The patient experience is the sum of the interactions between a patient and health care. This includes everything from reading reviews to the first phone call, the visit itself, and whether or not they recommend or talk about their experience with others. Like patient engagement, a better patient experience is tied to better outcomes, lower costs, better patient satisfaction scores, and high quality of care.
A patient’s experience encompasses all interactions with clinicians, nurses, and other staff. Like a patient journey, it includes touchpoints like scheduling appointments, communicating with providers, and follow-up appointments, as well as contact with third parties such as insurance companies and pharmacies. A successful patient journey should be made as frictionless as possible to avoid attrition and ensure a stellar patient experience.
Digital Patient Engagement Tools That Help Deliver Better Patient Experiences
One aspect that consistently rankles patient experience is the lack of provider and patient communication during later phases of the patient experience. Communication at follow-up is essential because a failure here can cause patients to miss appointments and negatively influence health outcomes. With ContinuumCloud, you can use multiple modes of communication within the CaredFor app and EHR solution to provide timely follow-up messages.
Missed appointments disrupt your team’s schedule and may cause you to lose revenue or, worse, patients. ContinuumCloud’s technology also streamlines appointment workflows. Beginning with contactless check-in and online payment options to self-scheduling and automated appointment reminders, this all-in-one behavioral health software helps you reduce friction at each touchpoint.
Finally, Care Journeys are expanding the scope of patient journey mapping to incorporate digital tools. Care Journeys enhance care delivery and optimize traditional therapy. By digitizing their clinical care plans, patient care providers can deliver focused, personalized, and highly engaging patient journeys. In their digital care management treatment plan, patients can access treatment and programming objectives and milestones. When indicated, patients can find links to additional tools and resources as required.
Patients access their Care Journeys through the CaredFor app. The care team created the Care Journey using care planning software. The workflow is automated. Providers create the patient’s personalized digital experience ahead of time and then schedule the delivery frequency.
Care Journeys improve the patient experience between sessions and fuel patient retention. Alums, family members, and caregivers may be included to keep everyone in the loop even after completing their treatment program.
Engage Patients With CaredFor Digital Technology
Engaged patients are more likely to seek information about their behavioral health and medical conditions, make better lifestyle decisions, and be proactive in their care. And when you increase patient engagement, you improve health outcomes while lowering costs.
There are many ways to boost engagement, including promoting the democratization of decision-making through care partnerships, focusing on patient activation through education, applying techniques like contingency management to improve compliance in certain situations, improving patient satisfaction and gathering patient insights, and creating the ideal patient experience through patient journey mapping.
ContinuumCloud has designed a suite of tools within the CaredFor app to help behavioral health organizations enhance patient engagement efforts. To discover more ways our patient engagement platform and behavioral health software can help, contact us today.