A focus on Patient Engagement will continue to lead the way for healthcare IT initiatives in 2016. Patients have, for decades, been stuck in the middle as doctors continued to communicate through antiquated methods…fax machines, paper scripts, little to no online presence, and the list goes on.
In much the same way that modern travelers have taken control of their own plans, virtually eliminating the “travel agent”, healthcare consumers will continue to be their own advocates and look for the path of least resistance when it comes to scheduling appointments, paying their bills, and managing their health. Providers that embrace this new paradigm and partner with system providers focused on connecting directly with the patient will thrive.
But Don’t Forget the “Patient” in Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is a two-way street. To be successful providers have to invest in new tools and solutions, but, more importantly, your patients have to want to use them. The key to a successful strategy is to understand what kind of help your patients want or need. The best way to do this is to approach it from the patient’s perspective.
What’s in it for me?
Remove the middleman. Make it easy for me to interact with my medical providers and to have access to information that I find relevant and helpful.
Patient portals can make it easier for patients to schedule appointments and register online. But, some of your patients may prefer the comfort of being able to call and speak to an expert when help is needed. Be sure you are catering to the needs of both audiences with multi-channel engagement.
Give me the tools, resources and support I need to be successful
Break down information into easily digestible pieces for me. And make the information actionable so I know what to do with it. If I don’t understand something, I’m not going to do it.
Allow patients to sign up to receive text or email-based reminders and gain access to electronic statements and have the ability to pay online. Automated, secure messaging can be used as an appointment reminder, to deliver test results, remind patients of a medication schedule, alert them in the event of closure or promote a health-related event.
Treat me like a unique individual
Make me feel like a valued individual. Be proactive, tell me when I am at risk don’t just wait until I am sick. This will strengthen our relationship and increase the likelihood that I will follow your care plan.
Advancements in technology and data collection have made personalized medicine a new tool in provider’s toolkit. By using data, including everything from patient diagnosis, lab work, insurance claims and general demographic information, providers can move beyond treating illness to predicting and preventing future illnesses.
All of this may seem like an additional burden, like yet one more thing for a practice to worry about; but consumers increasingly demand convenient 24/7 access to information and services and your practice is not immune to these increased expectations.