Better consumer engagement leads to better patient safety

Posted on: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 By: KorchekStaff

Now more than ever, providers are communicating with patients outside the walls of the hospital and the physician's office. Emerging technologies enable healthcare professionals to reach patients on their digital devices — encouraging them to work regularly at improving their overall well-being and positively influencing their health outcomes. With these new patient engagement technologies, providers can deliver care to patients outside of traditional care settings, while at the same time bolstering quality, safety and patient satisfaction. As the healthcare industry evolves, it remains critical to remember that patients are consumers, and we must do what we can to keep them consistently at the center of their care journey. In doing so, patients will be rewarded with positive outcomes.                                     

Transforming and automating patient-facing processes is one of the main keys that help providers drive consumer engagement. These intuitive solutions and strategies help guide patients in making the right choices for their care as well as ensure they are up to date with their medications, treatment regimens, referrals and follow-ups.

Moreover, these solutions put vital information in the hands of patients and their families via the devices they use every day — smart phones and tablets. Patients and their caregivers receive prompt information relevant to the progress, daily schedule, prescriptions, at-home care, discharge and more.

Technology leads to safer care at every step of a patient's healthcare journey 

Many organizations have already found success in communicating with the patient before, during and after each visit, using the Allscripts FollowMyHealth® patient engagement platform. Miami-based Nicklaus Children's Hospital System is a prime example of how managing an efficient and effective patient engagement strategy enables patients to be active members of their care team. 

First off, pre-care engagement helps orient patients and give them power over their scheduling and check-ins. Specifically, pre-visit text messages enable patients to be prepared for the appointment, including having all proper documents and informing them what they can expect from the visit. Out of the gate, this helps patients feel connected to their providers, which in turn instills trust through a mutual commitment to the visit’s outcome.

Point-of-care engagement helps optimize time during the patient's visit. Patient satisfaction has always been a top priority, but NCHS has the added challenge of considering the needs of the entire family unit. Tools such as tablets can help simplify patient participation and enable patients' families to stay up to date throughout the care journey. Providing timely, relevant information to a patient’s family regarding their loved one's progress, daily schedule, prescriptions, at-home care and discharge helps support better clinical outcomes. A solid point-ofcare engagement strategy helps patients (and their families) pose the right questions and interact with the doctor in a way that encourages decision-making. By the end of the visit, these helpful visual tools set into action an agreed-upon plan that patients understand, thus cutting down on "information overload" that is easy to forget in the moment.

Afterward, post-care engagement ensures patients stay on track with their care and treatment plans. Mobile discharge instructions reach patients on their phones and are a great way to ensure providers and patients remain on the same page moving forward. Clinically guided outreach, education and follow-up messages help create new 

opportunities to keep patients engaged.

Organizations that focus on engaging with patients during each phase of the visit will likely provide maximized patient safety simply by being available and ensuring all questions are answered, at any time, from anywhere.

The importance of recognizing consumer needs for better patient engagement

The healthcare landscape is constantly evolving; it is critical that we can understand, adapt and meet consumer' communication needs.

Today, more than 80 percent of patients prefer interacting with their mobile devices, so offering technologies with more visually friendly interfaces, easy-to-use tools and information served in small chunks is going to yield better, safer results. For example, instead of giving discharge instructions in the usual packet of densely printed pages, try adding a series of linked texts. This also calls to mind the significance of simplified patient engagement platforms.

In addition to offering standard patient portals, many organizations have begun using multiple, standalone solutions to handle segments of patient outreach, such as those for reminders or scheduling. However, a single enterprise platform integrating all outreach technologies is more efficient, effective and engaging. From an operational perspective, maintaining one patient engagement platform provides staff a unified view into when and how each patient is reached. Conversely, it can also more easily highlight potential communication gaps that can lead to negative outcomes.

Measuring patient engagement success

Metrically speaking, it is best to monitor success through key benchmarks, including no-show rates, appointment confirmations, payments collected, appointment volume, portal enrollments and patient satisfaction.

Aside from metric data, I think it's important to remember that, as an industry, the key to reaching patients more effectively is by enabling them to be in control of their healthcare journey. Patients are consumers. Ultimately, patient engagement platforms can provide powerful avenues to motivate patients to become more active partners in their care, resulting in safer patient care and improved outcomes.