In any business, management always values the customer. Of course, there is no business without customers, so organizations typically focus a lot of their time, effort, and commitment to retain customers and attract new customers.
Customer engagement is one of the most sought-after business facets to prioritize even among healthcare providers. Better customer engagement, or patient engagement in healthcare, cultivates trust between physicians and patients and is also one of the key strategies for maintaining continuity of care.
Medical practices must do their best to engage with their patients to keep them happy and satisfied with their services.
How to Build Patient Engagement in a Healthcare Practice
As a healthcare provider, it is a priority to foster patient engagement in your practice to maintain your commitment to your patients and improve it.
Patient engagement refers to the involvement of patients and their caretakers in the decision-making process of their medical journey. Every patient has the right to better understand their treatment options, medications, recovery process, and other aspects of their health management, including health insurance coverage.
Healthcare providers integrate patient engagement in their practice to lead their patients to be more proactively and directly involved in their health management. That is because in some cases, patients simply want to get treated. They leave the matter in the hands of their physicians without taking the time to learn more about their condition. This may lead to rehospitalization because of a lack of understanding of their health and conditions.
While you cannot force every patient to fully engage in their healthcare management, you can still do your part to enhance patient engagement that eventually inspires a patient to connect.
Patient engagement is the comprehensive healthcare collaboration of physicians, patients, and their caretakers, when applicable. When a patient involves themselves in their health management, they can receive better and healthier treatment outcomes. Research shows that when patients are actively involved in their healthcare decision-making, it creates a greater understanding and commitment to healing and health management.
By maintaining engagement with patients, whether in your office or through follow-ups, about their health and how they are managing, chances are they will feel satisfied with your services leading to their commitment to your practice. So, patient engagement is an essential aspect for the continuity and long-term success of your medical practice.
Four Benefits of Patient Engagement
Patient engagement holds a wide range of benefits, both for your team and the patients you serve. Here are four key benefits of patient engagement when integrated into a medical practice:
Higher Patient Inflow
By enhancing patient engagement, you strengthen your relationship with a patient and make them stay with your organization. A high number of regular patients means broader connections and recommendations, leading to an increased patient inflow.
When your practice experiences sufficient patient inflow, you may now focus on a more cost-effective marketing approach to continue the flow, reduce no-shows or cancellations, and achieve steady revenue.
Improved Service Delivery
Patients opt for high-quality healthcare. A practice that is fully committed to enhancing patient engagement operates more efficiently and effectively. Patient engagement sets the expectation for the quality of care.
Improved Patient Satisfaction
When patients feel your organization’s devotion in giving time, effort, and resources to engage with them, they report better customer satisfaction and commitment. Moreover, they likely endorse you to their family or colleagues.
Patient engagement has seen a growth in relevance with technology.
Due to the limited person-to-person contact in today’s healthcare scenario, physicians are working hard to transform passive patients (those who are not actively engaged in the consultation) into engaged partners in care.
Gone are the days of a traditional doctor-patient setup where a physician sits inside their office while their patient sits at the opposite side as they engage in a conversation regarding the latter’s medical condition and treatment.
With the advent of digital communication channels in healthcare, patients today desire more tech-driven patient engagement. Such innovations can significantly improve customer engagement, leading to higher patient satisfaction and more profits.
By using communication technologies in healthcare, such as telehealth/telemedicine, healthcare providers have more options to communicate and engage with patients in remote areas.
When the healthcare industry invests in information systems, online platforms, software, and health devices, these tools help to increase customer engagement by:
- Encouraging patients to take action to improve their health
- Boosting patients’ critical-thinking decisions
- Sustaining effective and efficient patient participation in the healthcare system
Findings from Deloitte’s Survey of US Health Care Consumers suggest that consumer engagement is increasing in three crucial areas in the healthcare industry:
More patients prefer to partner with their doctors in making decisions for their care rather than letting the doctors make decisions for them. Many of the survey’s respondents strongly believe that physicians must encourage their patients to research and ask questions about their condition or treatment. Additionally, respondents feel that their doctors should explain treatment costs, procedures, or tests before making decisions.
Relying on Online Resources
Patients trust using secured online resources or patient portals to learn additional information about their health concerns. Ninety-seven percent of smartphones have access to the internet. Physicians are taking advantage of this innovation by texting their patients with links containing vital information to educate them more about their healthcare status or condition.
Use of Technology
Patients’ interest in health technologies is on the rise. To achieve health improvement goals, patients use health devices, software, and mobile apps to track changes in their health, receive emails or notifications, and log in to a secured platform to receive and transmit health data. They can now accomplish all of this in the comfort of their homes.
Practical Patient Engagement Strategies to Implement
To achieve patient engagement, one must adopt being customer-centric, or placing patients first and at the center of your practice in a healthcare setting. Customer centricity is about truly understanding your patients to anticipate their needs, wants, and communication preferences. It is also a strategy to create meaningful experiences and establish lasting relationships.
As you implement patient engagement in your practice, it is crucial to consider the most effective method to succeed. Examples include:
Live Healthcare Assistance or AI-Powered Chatbots
Due to the fear of COVID-19 transmission, patients seek the most technologically advanced channels available for their healthcare alternatives. Remote healthcare consultations become more desirable as patients prefer virtual engagements rather than walk-in appointments.
It is critical for your practice to use the latest technology or software available in the market to achieve your desired patient engagement. Software can make or break your entire practice, mainly when you use it to interact with your patients. Real-time interactions and timely customer support are ways you can earn your patients’ trust.
By logging in to an advanced software with interactive tools, patients can access real-time customer support to help with their medical queries such as:
- Providing messages to answer a patient’s question
- Quick solutions for a minor treatment
- Answering questions about a prescription dosage or side effects
- Setting up a telehealth visit for acute illness
Healthcare providers are integrating technology such as chatbots into their websites or software apps to ensure 24/7 availability for their patients. This dedication drives better patient engagement and a long-term commitment to your practice.
HIPAA-Compliant Electronic Forms
Many industries are shifting from paper-based records to digital forms for a more secure and accessible system to disseminate information, including healthcare. Physicians and their staff heavily rely on accurate patient data for medical diagnostics and treatments in the healthcare industry. According to a study, 93% of patients expect healthcare providers to use digital tools, such as electronic health records (EHR) and digital patient forms.
With digital forms, you allow your patients to input their medical information in a secured system or patient portal that only authorized people can access. By doing this, you promote effective teamwork among your patients and organization. Digital forms also provide patients quick access to their medical records without them going to their physician’s office if they need it to see a separate specialist or track their health over time, as they do with a wearable healthcare device or app.
Moreover, medical paper forms that are vulnerable to displacement and damage cease to exist. That makes patients feel more relaxed and trusting, knowing that their patient data is in your organization’s secured and HIPAA-compliant system.
Active Social Media Presence
Businesses and organizations use social media to reach out to a wide audience — anyone can create an account on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, including healthcare practices. They also use it for marketing strategies and promotional campaigns. The more active a business is on social media, the broader its engagement.
If you haven’t created social media accounts yet for your practice, you’re missing the opportunity to engage with your patients and attract new patients.
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, 74% of Internet users actively follow social media pages of healthcare practices. Your practice may increase patient engagement and promote possible services by being active on social media.
You can input your organization’s basic information such as contact number, website, and office hours into your social media accounts. Your patients and other users can also reach out through messaging to your page for questions and inquiries about your service. They can leave comments on your posts, and your medical staff can quickly reply to them, leading to increased engagement.
Happy patients tend to promote their healthcare providers through good online reviews such as on Google. Patients will likely research your practice ahead of an appointment. High ratings and good reviews on Google may boost your practice’s reputation and increase your search engine rankings, making it an established and trustworthy organization. Moreover, if you respond to the reviews, you show how engaged you are with patients and value their feedback.
Options for Medical Correspondence
Healthcare providers like you must be willing to explore various channels in telecommunications where patients are most comfortable engaging. Text messaging, email alerts, automated reminders, and mobile patient portal apps deliver high-quality customer service.
Rather than sticking to the traditional option of your patients calling your office to book an appointment or request a prescription, provide them the digital communication preference of doing such tasks online. Matching your services to your patients’ expectations is an ideal way to encourage more patient engagement. When you show your patients the level of care involved with efficient online appointment scheduling or texting to remind them of their prescribed medication intake, they become satisfied with your service and stay with your practice.
Through telecommunications, healthcare providers can show their commitment and compassion towards their patients and value a patient’s time and make healthcare easy and accessible. Correspondence between healthcare providers and patients across various telecommunication options provides a seamless end-to-end experience, leading to higher patient satisfaction.
Achieve Excellent Patient Engagement
When engaging with a healthcare provider, patients expect more than a treatment; they desire quality and longstanding care with convenience and a role in their healthcare decisions.
Patient engagement can take many forms and is not just limited to attending patients and explaining their treatment. As a healthcare provider, you must show your commitment and compassion to your patients by constantly reaching out through social media to share relevant information and services, and treatments offered by your practice.
Healthcare is a customer service industry. To achieve a successful outcome of patient engagement, you must exceed a patient’s expectations by providing the most advanced and flexible services available in the industry for follow-up treatments, scheduling appointments, and secured access to their health records, etc.
A practice may have the most proficient physicians and experienced nurses in the industry, but if patient engagement is low, chances are patients do not recognize its outstanding healthcare. As a healthcare provider, your goal must focus on developing a long-term connection with your patient rather than treating their appointments as a mere transaction.