Rules of Patient Engagement

In recent years, healthcare organizations have been trying to achieve higher levels of patient engagement. Patient engagement at its core means encouraging patients to be actively involved in their own care plan. Studies suggest that increased patient engagement leads to better health outcomes and lower costs.

One way to achieve this goal is by ensuring patients understand their medical conditions and treatments. This may take the form of providers devoting more time to explaining the patient’s condition, as well as offering information on the risks and benefits of different treatment options. When patients understand the reasoning behind a particular treatment, they are more likely to adhere to the suggested guidelines. For example, if a patient is simply told he has high blood pressure and needs to exercise more without a clear understanding of the science behind it, he may brush off the doctor’s advice. But if he is told he has high blood pressure and is shown evidence that exercise can be helpful for managing this condition, he is far more likely to stick to an exercise regimen.

Another level of patient engagement is shared decision making, in which the patient and the provider consider all possible treatment options and develop a treatment plan together. This means the patient is an active participant, not simply a recipient of medications or advice.

Some healthcare organizations are also hoping to increase patient engagement to reduce the number of missed and canceled appointments. The advent of online patient portals and text message appointment reminders has been instrumental in this process. Patients appreciate the convenience of using patient portals to make, reschedule, or cancel an appointment, and text message reminders seem to be far more effective than voicemail messages or emails. Lake Washington Physical Therapy in Kirkland, Washington has used text messaging to reduce no-show and cancelation rates from 6% to 4%. In addition, the practice employs text messages to collect information from patients about their experience at the appointment to help promote greater satisfaction.

Another way to promote patient engagement is through the use of smartphone applications. The digital health company Livongo created a system to improve diabetes treatment. The system includes a “smart” glucose meter that uploads readings to a patient’s online account. The patient also has access to communication with a coach who can offer advice on topics such as nutrition. Other smartphone apps track activity levels, eating habits, and sleep quality with the option to share this information with the user’s healthcare provider.

By ensuring patients are actively engaged in treatment plans, providers can improve outcomes and reduce overall costs.




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About the Author: Claire Means

Claire is a Database Development Specialist at Extract Systems. She started at the company as a document verifier, which gives her a unique understanding of the redaction software. Her attention to detail and high rate of accuracy prove her dedication to Extract’s success. Claire holds a certificate in Web Design from Madison College and her special interests include web analytics and search engine optimization.