The practice of great medicine includes a hefty dose of patient engagement because excellent medical care requires a partnership to achieve the outcome. The patient and/or the caregiver must be active participants in the care plan. Unfortunately, the phrase patient engagement has been hijacked. Many physicians feel as though they must engage their patients just to fulfill arbitrary rules. Don’t look at it this way. Instead, recognize it for the opportunity it is to enhance the business and optimize patient care.
Make Patient Engagement Matter
Guard against patient engagement activities with no value beyond fulfilling some requirements. Develop a comprehensive plan to engage the patient with your portal, your staff, and patient education. This shows your patients how much you care about them, improves adherence to treatment and creates an advertising buzz. Even if you don’t need more patients, you do need happy patients. Happy patients are easier to work with, and happiness is contagious–spreading to other patients, staff, and even you.
In-Person Engagement Comes First
Before you begin a formal online patient-engagement program, take stock of your in-person patient engagement system. A system that expects patients to be passive followers of specific orders will face serious challenges when developing a patient engagement program. Patients need to be involved in their own care–actively involved. They need to have a plan and understand their role within it. Foster a team spirit. It will make everything easier.
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Better Medicine and Better Business
There are a number of reasons to care about your formal patient engagement program online and in person. First and foremost, patients who are actively engaged in their own care are likely to have much better outcomes. The involved patient is also more likely to follow treatment instructions, including contacting the office when there is a problem, which can avert more significant complications. Interestingly, this characteristic also means the patient is less likely to make frivolous calls. On the whole, true patient engagement improves care while decreasing workload.
Effective patient engagement programs result in happier patients who are more likely to give good reviews online. Good patient experiences also improve the quality care metrics and both help with advertising. Patient satisfaction also adds to your evaluation in the patient-centered care model and pay for performance.
All of these factors decrease the stresses that add to physician and staff burnout. This is not to say that mindless work toward some metric will decrease stress. Quite the opposite, it is part of the problem. Build a system that truly works and reap the benefits.
VoCall is a scheduling voice assistant for medical practices that uses natural language voice technology to allow patients to easily call and manage their appointments over the phone.
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