Patient Engagement is a critical part of patient satisfaction and care for a physician practice or ASC.
What is patient engagement and why is it important? HealthAffairs.org defines patient engagement as “a broader concept that combines patient activation with interventions designed to increase activation and promote positive behavior, such as obtaining preventative care or exercising regularly.”
Patient engagement opens the door for shared decision making when considering care options. This allows patients to work directly with physicians in identifying symptoms and potential routes for care. This sort of interaction is extremely valuable to patients. This is because it allows them to feel in involved in the process of their treatment while becoming more informed.
One of the most basic forms of patient engagement are the conversations in the exam room. Patients left feeling that their physician does not genuinely care for their health can lead to reductions in volume.
What Patients Say
A 2019 survey conducted by healthcare communications firm The Orsini Way reported that 71-percent of patients had experienced a lack of compassion during an interaction with physicians. Furthermore, 73-percent reported they were “always or often” left feeling rushed by their doctor.
An article on the study by Health Economics added this lack of empathy can have a large impact on private physicians working independently from a hospital or hospital system.
“This doesn’t paint a good picture for physicians’ bottom line as the survey also found that patients are more than twice as likely to stay local to a particular hospital if they have a good connection with the doctors and nurses on staff.”
Digital Patient Engagement
Forms of digital patient engagement should also be considered and reassessed. These include social media, online reviews, and patient portals. These avenues of communications and scheduling can improve patient satisfaction and reduce the workload on physicians and staff.
In the digital age, a strong online presence is key. More and more physicians are considering leaning harder into social media for its simple, but wide-reaching scope. Sites such as Facebook can not only serve to quickly disperse information to patients, but to receive positive and negative feedback through on-site reviews. As more and more patients take to the internet to research providers in-depth prior to making contact, showcasing positive patient experiences, and responding appropriately and sincerely to negative reviews can improve the chances of bringing in new patients in the future.
A strong patient portal through your website can also bring benefits. It can reduce the stress of scheduling or handling billing complications. Studies show that patients are searching for “on-demand” care. This is where they can take control of aspects of their health on their own. Your patient portal is a means to satisfy that requirement in the future.
Overall, patient engagement is a broad term used to define the means of which a physician can interact or assist a patient with their care. There are so many avenues to approach the topic. Therefore, physicians should research and consider the pros and cons of each form of engagement regularly. Those with patient engagement practices already in place should routinely reassess their effectiveness and evaluate routes for improvement.