As the healthcare industry shifts to a value-based system, the need to increase patient engagement is at the forefront. After all, a growing body of evidence supports the notion that improved patient engagement is directly linked to positive outcomes and lower costs.

Before we reveal the latest patient engagement trends and strategies it’s important to quickly discuss what factors drive patient engagement.

What Drives Patient Engagement?

 Empowerment and communication are the primary drivers of improved patient engagement. Empowerment simply refers to a patient’s knowledge of their illness, skills learned to manage their condition, and their willingness and ability to take control of their health. Enhanced and open communication with healthcare providers promotes positive patient behaviors such as initiating preventive care measures like nutrition and exercise.

With physicians and practitioners overburdened and in short supply, today’s patient engagement strategies increasingly rely on the use of advanced technology to strengthen relationships and improve outcomes. Here are the four most important patient engagement trends and strategies to implement in 2018.

  1. Automated Transitional Care

Extending patient care beyond the acute phase and into recovery is key to decreasing readmissions, reducing complications, and positively influencing your patient’s experience. Patients need to be regularly engaged throughout their care transition to develop the confidence and skills needed to successfully manage their care at home.

Automated transitional care management programs help clinicians efficiently and cost-effectively extend their reach by providing ongoing support and education. Scheduling the delivery of timely information to their patient, clinicians are able to reach the patients where they are and when they need them the most. These programs also allow healthcare providers the ability to monitor their patient’s progress, alerting them early that follow-up is needed.

  1. Personalized Patient Portals

While patient portals are not new, they are becoming essential for extending care beyond the doctor’s office. Increasingly, patients are relying on the Internet for information regarding their health conditions and medications, avoiding visits to the doctor altogether.

Today’s most engaging portals not only allow patients to have access to their medical records and lab results online but also customize homecare information that is patient-specific. By using a patient-by-patient approach, the portal has become one of the best tools available to provide precise and accurate information, improving patient engagement through empowerment and knowledge.

  1. Telemedicine for Health Management

Telemedicine is often thought of as a solution for providing care to patients living in rural or remote areas. However, today telemedicine is being used to improve access to care for all patients. Whether their patient is a busy parent or a bustling professional, telemedicine provides medical practices a convenient alternative to office visits for managing both chronic and acute illness.

Want to help your patients become early adopters of your telemedicine program? Consider offering a free online appointment. A 2016 study by the NIH found that an overwhelming majority of patients —96 percent, who tried telemedicine not only had a positive experience but actually preferred it to an office visit.

  1. Integrated Wearable Health Tech

From implementing electronic health records and patient portals, providers have enabled their patients to access personal health information anytime, anywhere. While these strategies seek to improve how patients manage their care and interact with providers, they are limited to the use of technology that is clinic-based.

Today, wearable devices are more than high-tech accessories that inform patients of how many steps they took in a day — they are increasingly beneficial for monitoring health, which we know results in improved outcomes. It’s no surprise then, that patients are embracing the technology in greater numbers than ever before.

In fact, a survey from Accenture showed that the number of consumers using personal health tech increased threefold from 2014 and 2016. More importantly, the survey discovered that a whopping 76 percent of these consumers actually followed their physician’s recommendations to use the wearables, and as a result felt more empowered in their healthcare.

The integration between wearable tech and electronic health records enables doctors to make more informed decisions because they have more insight into their patient’s daily activities. The faster clinicians can recognize and address problems by providing personalized treatment approaches, the better the patient outcome.

Patient engagement doesn’t end at the hospital or clinic door. Today’s patients need continued support and guidance at each step of their healthcare journey. Healthcare consumers require quality communication in order to develop trusting relationships with their doctors and practitioners.

By effectively engaging patients across the continuum of care, medical practices can empower patients and earn the trust needed to become patients’ provider of choice.

Want to talk about engaging with new and existing patients to achieve better health outcomes? E-mail us or call 317-631-6400.