6 Patient Support Ideas to Extend the Continuum of Care

Patient support: entrepreneur wearing headphones and looking at a laptop

Whether you run an outpatient behavioral health clinic or a human services agency, improving patient support is always a priority. Patient support refers to tools and activities that help bridge the gap between appointments for current patients and for alumni after treatment has culminated. Patient support programs help increase client engagement with your care team while offering alumni, caregivers, and loved ones the opportunity to collaborate on their well-being. 

From telehealth and appointment reminders to peer support and personalized resources, here are six ways a patient engagement platform can ensure your patients are fully supported in their recovery and overall health. 

1. Extend the Continuum of Care With Telehealth 

In addition to facing the challenges that have brought them under your care, behavioral health patients are also facing complex social barriers to care like social isolation, stigma, economic uncertainty, and limited access. Telehealth is one tool behavioral health care providers are using to improve the availability of services.

During COVID-19’s stress on the health care industry, a number of positive (and lasting) changes occurred, including the use of telehealth and teletherapy. According to research, the use of telehealth spiked during the first months of the pandemic and has since leveled off — but it’s far from diminished. In fact, the consistent rate of use is still 38 times higher than before the pandemic.

All of this means that telehealth is here to stay, and your patients may prefer to engage more often over video rather than in-person visits. This is great news if you’re planning to make telehealth a part of the patient support services you offer. 

Along with offering traditional telehealth visits, you may consider adding asynchronous telehealth communications to bolster patient support. Asynchronous telehealth refers to using pre-recorded video messages for patient outreach, instruction, follow-up, or to complete processes like intake. 

ContinuumCloud’s CaredFor app features telehealth integration that provides click-to-meet technology that can help with these aims. Providers can access teleconferences for individuals and groups from the clinical notes feature, and it’s easy to start an impromptu session or schedule a video conference in the future. You can communicate with clients directly, share screens, and offer access from any operating system, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

2. Follow Through on Follow-Up Communication

Patient support: man happily using his phone

Health care professionals know that following up with patients can support them in important ways. For instance, proper follow-up communication can help identify misunderstandings and answer questions, or make further assessments and adjust treatments. Furthermore, timely follow-up improves trust and promotes positive outcomes through engagement.

The CaredFor app helps you engage users between visits with timely follow-up. Use the private messaging app to send follow-up communication through a direct channel, which is more secure than using a traditional wireless signal.

ContinuumCloud’s EHR is fully HIPAA-compliant and features a patient portal that also includes multiple tools for communication. The patient portal acts as a hub for secure communication that enhances a patient’s ability to actively participate in their own care. 

If you have a group to follow up with, you can use bulk email and mass text messaging to make sure everyone is included. This feature is also ideal for sending out messages to your alumni program.

3. Keep Patients on Track With Appointment and Well Reminders

Today’s patients need more support than a handwritten appointment card can provide. If you’re looking for an easy, effective way to boost patient engagement, reduce no-shows, and curb patient attrition, you’ll be interested in automated appointment reminders. 

Automated appointment reminders sent via text message or an automated pre-recorded phone message are helpful in preventing no-shows. ContinuumCloud's automated appointment reminder system offers many advanced features that promote patient support. You can send follow-up reminders for lab work, referrals, reimbursement or copayment, testing, telehealth, as well as group and alumni messages. 

You can also use ContinuumCloud’s patient engagement platform to send “well reminders'' to enhance your patient support goals. Automate messages reminding clients when they reach treatment milestones and other programming goals.

4. Provide Peer Support in a Safe, Moderated Environment

Patients shaking hands

Peer support involves a variety of activities and interactions between people who have experienced similar mental and behavioral health challenges. People living with serious mental illness may experience varying degrees of stigma, which may be oppressive, violent, or discriminatory. You may find that providing more support within this group is especially helpful since these barriers often inhibit access and recovery.

There are many benefits to peer support, not only for those receiving services but also for behavioral health care professionals and the systems they work in. Through observing peer interactions, perspectives and experiences, you can also gain a clearer understanding of how to better support patients and promote wellness and resilience.

It’s crucial to connect with a wide network of support systems to ensure long-term recovery and relapse prevention. The CaredFor app’s online peer community fosters connections between people experiencing or having gone through similar situations. A key feature of ContinuumCloud’s patient engagement platform is the peer community, which serves as a sort of virtual support group. In a social-media-type environment, patients, alumni, and family can communicate with one another while giving and receiving advice and support in a safe, monitored space 24/7 from any device with an internet connection.

5. Provide Patient Education That Bridges Any Gaps

Patient education can take many forms. You can teach your patients through demonstration, face-to-face instruction, and using pictures to explain complex concepts. A brochure or other printed material can also be used as a teaching tool. Today, however, most patient education is autodidactic and done online. 

Like it or not, your patients are going to use Google to look up information about their symptoms, diagnoses, medical care, prognosis, and more online. But it’s not all bad. Curiosity is a positive sign that your patients are engaged. 

You can make it easier for patients to get information on demand and give them more confidence in procedures and treatment plans. Utilize curated content from sources you trust to help eliminate stumbling blocks like misinformation, outdated data, and fake news. When you provide solid information your patients can trust, you can bolster their levels of activation and engagement, which in turn can lead to better patient outcomes.

You can use the CaredFor patient engagement app to create a content library for your patients. This way, they have direct access to information from sources you trust and that match your programming approach. 

6. Personalize Your Patient Support

Whether your patients are concerned about finding a patient assistance program, financial support, health insurance coverage, Medicare or Medicaid eligibility, clinical trials, alternative therapies, or pharmaceuticals, they need timely, accurate, and personalized information.

The act of personalization itself taps into a proven behavioral science technique known to increase the effectiveness of interventions. Abbott Pharmaceuticals found that they could reduce instances of medication non-compliance or non-adherence by implementing personalized patient support programs. 

With the CaredFor app, you can create Care Journeys for patients. These are a personalized, curated set of resources, tasks, surveys, and more that are designed for each patient and alumni. Care Journeys make it easy for your patients to access care, information, and resources that are important to them. 

Choose the CaredFor App for Next-Level Patient Support

Patients supporting each other

Patient support is a key part of patient engagement, which is a fixture in value-based care and leads to improved health outcomes. Patient support tools and measures include extending the continuum of care with telehealth, providing adequate and timely follow-up communication, keeping patients on track with reminders, inviting peer support in a safe digital setting, offering 24/7 access to credible patient education resources, and creating personalized support plans for improved performance.

With the CaredFor app, it’s easier to design a patient support program that helps patients understand their conditions, treatments, medication, plans, and management. To learn more about making ContinuumCloud’s patient engagement platform part of your patient support strategy, connect with us today.

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