September 7, 2021

Patient engagement strategies are proactive measures taken to enhance what is known as patient activation levels. These strategies include patient education, shared decision-making, encouraging patients to take initiative to learn, patients taking ownership in their care, and monitoring patient activation levels.

Patient activation measurement (also referred to as PAM) is an assessment of a patient’s knowledge, skill, and the level of confidence they have in managing their own healthcare. Through this measurement, providers better understand the patient behaviors, motivators, and attitudes at play in their care in addition to the related outcomes.

The primary benefits of patient engagement and patient activation are:

  1. Gain payment adjustments through Value-Based Care/MIPS – Interventions that come about from better patient engagement have a positive impact on your bottom line.
  2. Nurture patient lifetime value and loyalty – Investment in patient retention secures solid and reliable revenue from customer lifetime value (CLV).
  3. Optimize staff workflow – When more patients are engaged, this frees up time for the staff. Patient portal self-service reduces telephone communication demand on PSRs, nurses, etc.
  4. Improve provider reputation – When patient engagement leads to patient satisfaction, patients are more likely to recommend a care provider. Also, pursuing patient feedback is an instrumental part of a patient engagement playbook.
  5. Increase quality of care – Engaged patients fare better than those who are not involved in their care. Patients who do not participate in their own health management incur up to 21% higher healthcare costs than those who are more engaged. More success stories to refer to is a meaningful key performance indicator.

As we emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients are looking to resume care after an extended period of disruption. This presents the perfect opportunity to revisit your patient engagement blueprint while encouraging patients to get back on track with routine care. Our expert consultants have gathered strategies you can implement today to improve patient engagement.

7 Patient Engagement Strategies You Can Implement Now

Promote the Patient Portal at Every Opportunity

While it has been estimated that 90% of providers are equipped with a patient portal, the ONC reported that only 26% of patients were actively using their portal. So, it’s likely that most practices have room for improvement in this area. With portal-using patients being 2.6 times more likely to remain patients, promoting portal engagement is one way to nurture patient retention.

According to an Accenture survey, 68% of patients say they are more likely to choose medical providers who extend the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online. To bridge the gap between low participation and the willingness indicated in this survey, a practice should consider more aggressive efforts.

The ONC also found that 63% of patients accessed their medical record online when encouraged to do so versus only 38% who did so without being prompted. This indicates that a mere suggestion to use the patient portal has an impact on participation.

To get more patients to use the portal, be persistent, consistent, and repetitive with mentions of the portal. Have all staff use the portal so they understand it from a user perspective and will better assist patients in learning how to use it. Remind patients of how convenient the portal is by mentioning all they can do online: schedule appointments, get lab results, request prescription refills, review visit notes, etc.

Utilize Emails and Text Messages to Encourage Use of the Patient Portal

Per the Accenture survey mentioned earlier, 70% of patients said they are inclined to choose a provider who will send emails or text messages when they are due for a return visit. It has also been reported in survey results that over half of the respondents expect text messages, voice mails, or email reminders from a medical practice reminding them to schedule an appointment or take medications.

If your practice already has text messaging and email capability for patient communication, encourage more patients to opt-in to this service and consider communicating with them through their preferred channel. Find ways to expand this service so that your patients hear from you more often. Email and text messages are a way to request feedback from patients via surveys and online reviews.

Email lists are perfect for sending out newsletters, invitations to upcoming educational events, seasonal reminders (back-to-school physicals, flu shots, etc.), and to encourage patient portal use.  

Make Patient Engagement a Team Effort

All interactions between a medical practice and patients have an impact. For example, ONC reports that patients were many times more likely to sign up for the patient portal when presented with the opportunity to do so in person. The more guidance and encouragement patients receive from the practice team, the more empowered they are to get involved in their own care.

Medical practices should consider holding weekly team meetings and staff training for ongoing collaboration and coaching for patient engagement objectives. Foster a patient engagement mission by exploring ways to make it fun for staff, competitive gamification, employee performance review inclusion, and rewarding your team when goals are reached.

Medical Advantage Managing Consultant and patient engagement expert Sarah Saj shares that better patient engagement begins with educating your team, “making sure that the staff understands why they are doing this outreach to the patients.” With all hands on deck for patient engagement strategy implementation, it won’t be long before all patients are well aware of their opportunities to be more active in their healthcare.

Capitalize on Telehealth to Improve Patient Engagement

After seeing a surge of popularity in 2020, the momentum for telehealth shows no signs of slowing. 83% of patients surveyed said they would continue with telemedicine after COVID-19 and 48% of physicians report that they currently utilize telemedicine to treat patients.

As more providers and patients turned to telehealth during the height of the pandemic, our healthcare system embraced the alternative to in-person visits – the convenience of the remote telehealth appointment. What’s more, some behavioral health patients have too much anxiety when going to a mental health maintenance appointment and fare better when they can do this remotely instead.

Telehealth is an opportunity to better serve patients, so consider offering this solution whenever feasible as it helps high-risk patients or those with transportation issues to better engage.

Provide Guidance Through Education Resources

It has been reported that 73% of consumers use the internet to search for healthcare information, and Google reports that 1 in 20 queries are health related. There lies an opportunity to support and encourage knowledge-hungry patients by providing them with credible and readily accessible resources via articles, webinars, newsletters, workshops, and more.

Medical Advantage recently joined forces with iHealthSpot to create a Practice Marketing solution that further promotes patient engagement through patient education libraries available to our clients on their medical websites.   

83% of seekers are skeptical of medical information they read on social media. By leveraging social media channels, you can be the voice of reason and establish authority by dispelling myths and misinformation surrounding trending health topics.

Encourage Patient Engagement Through Personal Goal Inclusion

Becker’s Hospital Review reports that patients are more likely to stick to a care or treatment plan if they are working toward a personal goal. During encounters with patients, ask open-ended questions to encourage a dialog about their struggles and desires.

Whenever possible, frame a treatment plan around their individual goals. Motivation rooted in the aspirations and emotions of the patient both nurtures and incentivizes patient engagement.

Refine Communication Methods for Better Patient Experience

Becker’s Hospital Review also reported that bedside manner matters greatly to patients. The better a clinician is at communicating with patients, the more trust they establish so patients feel better supported in their healthcare goals. Make a point to recruit team members who are committed to compassionate communication.

Two ways to achieve a better patient experience are the inclusion of scribes and a continuous refinement of communication tactics. Augmedix is a virtual scribe service that frees clinicians to be more present with patients as a remote scribe takes all the notes for them. On the other hand, consider communication improvements such as behavioral interviewing or other healthcare communication strategies that reinforce a patient’s care matters greatly.

Recap: 7 Simple Patient Engagement Strategies

  1. Consistently promote the portal: The patient portal is your best tool in getting patients to take ownership of their healthcare. Promote it as much as possible.
  2. Expand usage of electronic communication channels: Leverage text messaging and email to keep the lines of communication active with your patients.
  3. All hands on deck: The drive for patient engagement begins with better staff training – make everyone a stakeholder in this effort.
  4. Embrace telehealth: Telemedicine is here to stay, so use it whenever it keeps patients engaged.
  5. Be the go-to for information: Your patients will encounter dubious claims on the internet, so arm them with credible information.
  6. Consider the patient’s personal goals: Set your patients up for success by aligning their treatment plan with their own personal goals.
  7. Continuous communication improvement: Commit to a patient engagement plan that includes ongoing adoption of communication improvements.

Medical Advantage Can Help Keep Your Patients Engaged

It’s no secret that patient engagement is a pathway to healthcare success and helps encourage patient retention and loyalty. Because Medical Advantage is committed to helping practice managers and clinicians deliver efficient high-quality healthcare, we offer several areas of support for your patient engagement efforts:

  • Healthcare Consulting: We optimize your Value-Based Care operations.
  • Telehealth Consulting: We enable you to keep pace with the telemedicine revolution.
  • Care Management and RPM: We improve engagement and outcomes for high-risk patient populations.
  • Practice Marketing: We create engaging medical websites that make the portal easy to access, helps you attract new patients, and help you to retain and educate patients through a patient education library and regular social media posts.

Set up a consultation today with MSV's partner, Medical Advantage, to explore all your patient engagement opportunities!