Top 3 patient engagement strategies to reduce spending, improve outcomes
Patient engagement has been a top priority for providers, regulators, and payers throughout the transition to value-based care. After all, patients are at the heart of why stakeholders are adopting models that offer better outcomes, better experiences, and lower costs.
If these models are to work, patients need to actively participate. They need to feel empowered to make smart, informed choices about when and where to seek care, and they need to have access to tools that make it easy to stay connected with their healthcare teams.
Research from around the globe consistently suggests that engaged, educated, and activated patients are more likely to experience better outcomes. Experts also agree that patient engagement is a key factor in controlling avoidable spending, with the most engaged patients seeing costs up to 8 percent less than the least engaged individuals.
Healthcare providers, particularly those in primary care, bear much of the responsibility of developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with patients. How can providers meet their patient engagement goals to achieve better outcomes and lower costs?
Developing a collaborative culture of care
Patient engagement begins with understanding what patients really need and how to best ensure they can receive it. Organizations should start by assessing their patient populations and their socioeconomic, cultural, and clinical needs.
Based on the results, providers may wish to explore cultural competence training to connect with specific groups and launch targeted educational campaigns to address known disparities in care. Providers can also leverage motivational interviewing techniques to uncover hidden stressors, set manageable goals for patients, and encourage shared decision-making.
Together, these strategies can enhance empathy and understanding while turning providers into truly collaborative partners.
Leveraging technology to keep patients connected
The health IT market is bursting with patient engagement technologies – and for good reason. Data-driven tools are essential for connecting with patients and delivering care in a convenient, effective manner.
Creating a “digital front door” with a feature-rich patient portal allows patients to access key services when and where they need them. Provider messaging, telehealth, self-scheduling, prescription refills, online bill pay, and access to personal health data can improve convenience for consumers while cutting down on administrative burdens for providers.
Organizations can also maintain engagement by adopting customer relationship management (CRM) and clinical risk stratification tools to prioritize and automate outreach activities.
Extending care outside the walls of the clinic
Most health-related decisions happen outside of the clinic. The social determinants of health (SDOH) are commonly believed to influence at least 80 percent of outcomes, and providers in value-based care models must do their best to address these non-clinical issues.
Organizations should focus on collecting SDOH data with standardized screening techniques and implementing referral tools to connect patients with local community services.
By working directly with patients to understand, address, manage their clinical and non-clinical challenges, providers can generate sustained engagement and equip patients with the right tools to make better decisions about their health.
Jennifer Bresnick is a journalist and freelance content creator with a decade of experience in the health IT industry. Her work has focused on leveraging innovative technology tools to create value, improve health equity, and achieve the promises of the learning health system.