Five Ways to Increase Patient Engagement

Doctor and patient talking at the patient's hospital bedside
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Whether you’re a provider or payer, you’re tasked with a lot. There are patients to see and claims to be processed, and let’s be honest – it’s exhausting! Yet, sometimes the most challenging part of the job isn’t what people would expect. Often, it’s getting patients or members to engage in their healthcare. Groove Health wants to make that area of your life a little easier, which is why we’ve come up with five ways to increase patient engagement.

What is patient engagement?

Let’s start by briefly touching on what the phrase “patient engagement” really means. In an interview with Patient Engagement Hit,[i] Judith Hibbard, Ph.D., MPH stated, “We use patient engagement to denote a broader concept that includes activation; the interventions designed to increase activation; and patients’ resulting behavior…”

Essentially, the phrase “patient engagement” describes everything that is done to involve patients in their care and what results from it.

Why is patient engagement important?

Increasing patient engagement is vital for any health system or health plan. According to HIMSS,[ii] patients or members that are engaged in the decision-making process of their healthcare “…tend to be healthier and experience better outcomes.”

Other than the obvious benefit of keeping patients healthier, why does this matter? Better outcomes mean an improved reputation for your health system or health plan and more reimbursements from value-based care payment models.

For example, a study from Health Affairs[iii] shows that people who do not engage in their own health, for one reason or another, “…may incur up to 21% higher healthcare costs than other people.” Remember, those healthcare costs don’t just affect the patient’s wallet. They affect your organization’s bottom line, too.

Ways to increase patient engagement

So, what should you do about it? Here are five ideas.

#1 – Start a wellness campaign

We’ll chat about digital patient engagement tools in a second, but this first idea doesn’t require any sort of digital component. An awesome and easy way to get patients involved in their health is by starting a wellness campaign!

A wellness campaign encourages patients or members to take action. This can be through encouraging an exercise program, promoting healthy recipes, urging patients to take their medications, and so on. It can last for however long you’d like, and you can promote it at your office, in the mail, through posters and flyers, and more!

To ensure that a wellness campaign is successful, it’s smart to provide incentives for certain milestones. For example, let’s say you’re urging patients to take their medications properly every day for a month. A good incentive might be a drawing at the end of each week for a $50 gift card, and at the end of the month, a drawing for a $250 gift card. Only those who have completed the challenge are eligible to enter!

#2 – Use chatbots

Another great way to increase patient engagement is with digital patient engagement tools. After all, if COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that shifting to digital is something we should all look into.

One of the best digital patient engagement tools is chatbots. Chatbots offer patients conversation about their healthcare, even when they can’t speak directly to someone within their health system or health plan. This keeps your patients or members involved without taking up your time!

Chatbots are typically used for scheduling appointments, finding the nearest hospital or pharmacy, and answering basic questions. However, with the capabilities of artificial intelligence, chatbots can be used for even more.

For example, our chatbot, Maxwell, learns more about patients’ patterns and tendencies over time. Because of this, he offers personalized encouragement and motivation at times that patients might need it most.

#3 – Increase your accessibility
Hands on laptop next to stethoscope
If you can, consider dedicating some time to answering patients’ questions via a HIPAA-compliant messaging system

Chatbots are amazing for answering simple questions, but sometimes patients or members need to speak directly to their doctor or representative. If you’re not available by phone all day every day, that’s okay! You can still increase your accessibility in ways that work for you.

One way is to set up an online portal if you don’t already have one. This can offer messaging, similar to emailing, but in a HIPAA-compliant manner. You can dedicate 1-2 hours each week to answering messages that might be a bit more case-specific. With people making phone calls less and less often, this is a great way to boost patient engagement without getting too bogged down.

If you can’t dedicate 1-2 hours a week to this, maybe try hosting a routine Q&A session via video chat or phone. Set aside a few hours a month and offer 10- to 15-minute time slots that people can sign up for. Those 10 to 15 minutes are theirs to ask you questions about their healthcare, and the rest of the month you can focus on your regular day-to-day tasks.

#4 – Use social media

We all know and love (or hate) social media, but have you ever thought to view it as a digital patient engagement tool?

Before social media, there wasn’t a way to reach millions of people on an intimate level. Now that we have this ability, we shouldn’t let it go to waste!

Social media can be used to increase patient engagement by helping patients or members feel more connected to your health system or health plan’s brand. If this connection is fostered correctly, it turns into patient trust, which then turns into activation and engagement.

Some of the best ways to boost engagement on social media are through hosting a challenge, using interactive stickers,[iv] and posting infographics. These capture the attention of your patients and urge them to take action.

To take it a step further, going “live” and/or posting employee features on your page can drastically increase the comfort level of patients. They feel like they know the face behind the brand a bit more, which could mean they’re more likely to collaborate with you on their healthcare.

#5 – Never stop educating

It goes without saying, but education is such a key part of any patient’s healthcare journey. The more your patients or members know about their health condition, treatment options, and payment processes, the more they’ll feel involved in the decision-making. This feeling of autonomy increases patient engagement and can be brought about through many different avenues.

Of course, there’s in-person education at an office visit, but don’t discount the power of pamphlets, videos, and even e-leaflets (we use these in our mobile app!).

It’s difficult to get your patient population invested in their healthcare, which can cause frustration. That said, there’s no shortage of both non-digital and digital patient engagement tools to help you out!

Want to learn all the ways we help our clients keep patients engaged in their medication management? Schedule a demo today!

Photos by Unsplash

[i] Heath, Sara. “Patient Engagement Strategies for Improving Patient Activation.” PatientEngagementHIT, Xtelligent Healthcare Media, 28 Feb. 2019, patientengagementhit.com/features/patient-engagement-strategies-for-improving-patient-activation.

[ii] Admin. “What Is Patient Engagement?” HIMSS, HIMSS, 30 Dec. 2019, www.himss.org/what-patient-engagement.

[iii] “Health Policy Brief: Patient Engagement,” Health Affairs, February 14, 2013.

[iv] Chacon, Benjamin. “Instagram Stories Stickers: 13 Features That Are Perfect For Businesses.” Later Blog, 7 Aug. 2020, later.com/blog/instagram-stories-stickers/.

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