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Patient engagement knowledge hub

See how the right patient engagement tools and techniques can help improve both clinical and financial results.

Creating a patient engagement framework

 

To achieve successful patient engagement, the use of online patient portals is quickly becoming a necessity for medical practices. But no matter how many features a patient portal offers, health care organizations cannot simply live by the adage of “build it and they will come.” And even with effective promotion of an online patient portal, today’s health care organizations need a comprehensive patient engagement framework to:

  • Improve the patient experience
  • Meet increasing patient demand for convenient access to health information
  • Meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements
  • Adapt to new care models such as Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and accountable care
  • Better serve consumers who are taking on increasing self-pay responsibilities through new health insurance structures
Patient portal adoption is a significant element of an overall patient engagement strategy, but it doesn’t account for, or provide, everything that’s necessary for a patient engagement framework. To achieve true patient engagement, practices should consider these five steps:

1) Define a vision for patient engagement.

Understand where you currently are with patient engagement, and where you want to be. Discuss patient and family engagement with your senior leadership, board and staff, as well as patients and their families. Then, develop your health care organization’s own patient engagement framework with goals, expected outcomes, expected use of tools and technology, and an approach for measuring progress.

2) Create a culture of engagement.

Understand where you currently are with patient engagement, and where you want to be. Discuss patient and family engagement with your senior leadership, board and staff, as well as patients and their families. Then, develop your health care organization’s own patient engagement framework with goals, expected outcomes, expected use of tools and technology, and an approach for measuring progress.

3) Employ the right technology and services.

Successful patient engagement strategies use the right combination of technology and services. Look for patient engagement solutions that operate seamlessly with other systems already in place at your practice, such as electronic health records (EHR), billing, and practice management solutions.

The best patient engagement solutions offer a range of capabilities, including the online patient portal software which can accommodate online bill payments, lab results, appointment scheduling, reminders and patient registration. Ask service providers about additional, integrated options such as live operator support, automated phone and e-mail reminders, and lab result services.

Any patient portal should be built and branded for your specific practice, with the flexibility to add and customize features. It should also be compliant with new mandates, including ICD-10 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use, at no additional cost to you. A patient portal vendor should also offer excellent customer support to help you achieve success with your patient engagement framework, and should offer significant flexibility, at no additional cost, as the landscape evolves.

4) Empower patients to become collaborators in their care.

Your patient engagement framework should include a definition of “engaged patients” at your facility, as well as patient engagement strategies that encourage patient-provider collaboration. At first, you will need to focus on promoting and encourage patients to use your online portal. To help accomplish this, some vendors offer patient outreach services and support, such as conducting patient reminder calls and e-mails on behalf of the practice. Make sure your providers know when and how to discuss the patient portal, based on your practice’s approach and needs. Finally, promote your patient portal on signage, billing communication, appointment reminders and your practice’s website.

5) Chart progress and be ready for change

Depending on the vision and goals of your patient engagement framework, your health care organization may want to track metrics such as the number of patients using the portal, number of e-mails collected, and patient confidence in managing their own health. It is also important to be prepared with strategies needed for future mandates, such as managing population health and further stages of Meaningful Use.

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