While advances in healthcare technology have become more extensive, there is still an underlying problem with patient engagement – or lack thereof. Providers are continuously running into problems – they are allocating a comprehensive plan of care to their patients, but the patients aren’t actively engaged with their plan.
Let’s face it – Compliance can overall drive down the cost of healthcare. So the question is how do providers increase patient engagement? It is up to healthcare professionals to empower patients to take part in shared decision-making and keeping their health in align with their goals.
It is important to educate patients on their disease states. When a patient is educated on their illness and the treatment they are receiving, they will be more apt to take their medications. For example, a patient may be told that they have hypertension even though they are feeling fine with no symptoms. However, if they understood how taking an ACE inhibitor could drastically reduce their chance of stroke or death, they would be more willing to commit to their treatment plan. So how can we make this information easier for a patient to understand?
Approximately half of Americans have low health literacy, specifically those with less than a high school degree. It is therefore recommended to keep patient education material at a sixth-grade level or lower. Tailoring verbal and written communication allows patients to grasp information more easily. They will then be in a position to fully execute their treatment plan and follow up with appointments.
Studies have shown that following up after a hospital discharge reduces readmission rates by up to 25%. Some ways providers can reach out to their patients are through phone calls or mailed surveys. However, through the use of emerging patient portal systems such as HealthKOS, the patient and provider can now more easily keep track of prospective treatment plans. Therefore, using technology to follow up has become a more effortless way to voice any concerns that may arise.
Patients will be more accountable if they are able to see tangible results associated with their health. Providers can collaborate and set goals of therapy for a patient to aim for. This might mean preventing the need for insulin by getting their diabetes under control. By setting goals, patients will gain a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.
A handful of ways that healthcare organizations can increase patient engagement in their community while decreasing hospitalizations. By incorporating ways to engage patients, we can bridge the gap between patient understanding and provider collaboration.