Consumer technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Not only do 81% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone, they’re increasingly relying on their phone to shop, search for information, and a wide range of other activities. This evolution in technology has also driven a change in consumer expectations for what makes a good user experience. Healthcare is no exception. If your patient engagement strategy isn’t driving the results you expect, it might be time for a rethink.
According to recent research from Deloitte, the healthcare consumers’ expectations of value are evolving to include prioritizing personalization, simplicity, timeliness, transparency, and security. As you think of your current patient engagement strategy, how are you delivering on these expectations? More so, in a competitive healthcare marketplace, how are you exceeding patient expectations? If these areas continue to be a challenge, now is a good opportunity to rethink your current patient engagement strategy before it’s too late.
Here are 11 ways to rethink and evolve your patient engagement strategy to deliver a more holistic patient experience.
Define Your Patient Engagement Goals
The key to developing any effective strategy is starting with clearly defined goals. For patient engagement it’s especially critical given the complexity of healthcare delivery. When a patient’s care spans multiple departments and service lines, engagement strategy needs to be defined and understood across senior leadership and staff.
If you’ve established goals, how are they being measured? Are they shared across the patient care journey? Are there breakdowns or roadblocks posing challenges to achieving engagement goals? Rethinking your engagement strategy starts with defining and understanding goals.
Establish Your Patient Engagement Team
In the eyes of the patient, your organization is a singular entity. Customers aren’t interested in how a hospital or practice is organized internally. They just want their experience to be seamless.
Your patient engagement team needs to be inclusive. Often, engagement teams can be siloed. Disconnected from resources, budgets, and ability to impact processes that lead to exceptional patient engagement. When defining your patient engagement team, think of stakeholders who can provide a direct connection to key leaders across the hospital to understand and deliver necessary improvements.
Define Key Metrics for Return on Investment
Today more than ever, you must have confidence that your patient engagement strategy and platform technology can generate a positive impact on clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. As you define patient engagement ROI metrics, there are several key areas that can drive value for patients and clinical staff alike. Evaluate and define ROI metrics including:
- Reducing readmissions and avoidable ED visits
- Impacting patient physiologic condition, planning for post-discharge, and early detection of complications
- Decreasing patient length of stay
- Reducing no-shows and same day cancelations
- Decreasing practice and care coordinator phone calls
- Improving patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores
Prioritize Patient Pathways
The patient care journey is complex and often overwhelming. From preventive screenings to major surgical procedures, it can often be overwhelming for patients to keep track of everything they need to have a successful outcome.
For example, leading up to a surgery patients might not understand:
- what questions they should be asking
- how to prepare before and aftersurgery
- what medications they should continue to use or stop
- how to keep track of follow-up appointments and other details.
These can all be critical before, during, and after a surgery and impact post-operation success.
For healthcare organizations, understanding all of the potential touch points, both big and small, in the patient journey is critical to a successful strategy.
Understand Your Patient Population
The population a hospital serves has unique needs. Even within a single hospital system, what might be engaging for one hospital might not be right for another. To engage patients in their own care, an effective patient engagement strategy has to understand the unique needs of the population it is aiming to serve.
There are an array of factors that can impact \how you communicate with your patient population including socio-economic, cultural, and overall health literacy. Evaluating and measuring patient experience through both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (electronic surveys) methods can help shape a more impactful and effective strategy targeted to the unique needs of your patient population.
Power Your Patient Engagement Strategy
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Identify the Right Technology
As mentioned earlier, patients are looking for personalization and simplicity. Choosing a patient engagement software that can seamlessly integrate within your existing healthcare IT systems can help meet that need. Your platform should also connect with patients in a way they feel most comfortable. A platform that can support email, app, SMS text, and integrate with remote patient monitoring devices is critical for
Just as important, selecting a patient engagement software that is both flexible and customizable will allow your staff to streamline workflows and tailor pathways to your organization’s specific needs.
Test, Measure, Iterate
Testing and benchmarking is key in understanding the impact your engagement strategy is having on clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Identify a service line to launch your patient engagement program where you can test patient pathways, measure their effectiveness over a short period, and continue to expand and iterate.
As you move forward, regularly collecting data and analyzing performance metrics across stakeholder teams can help identify gaps in performance and new opportunities for increased engagement across your practice.
Make Patient Education a Priority
Studies estimate that nearly 36% of adults in the United States have low health literacy and its potential impact on the U.S. economy is up to $236 billion per year. At the same time, an estimated 7% of Google’s daily searches are health-related. That’s over 100,000,000 searches per day.
Patients want to learn about their health conditions and are willing to research. Yet, the materials meant to inform and educate a patient population are often too dense in medical language or in a format that is not easy to engage with.
Developing a patient engagement strategy that utilizes a library of easy to understand content combined with the ability to automate communication pathways can help your teams deliver patient education that drives engagement and education. Through automated patient communication, you can use data-driven personalization for patients while also streamlining the workflow of your staff.
Deliver the Right Message at the Right Time
To be effective, patient communication pathways need to be more than just informative. The information needs to be timely. Delivering the right information at the right time is not only necessary to inform but also to help patients feel comfortable and supported. Communicating too much information at once can leave a patient overwhelmed and under-communicating can leave them feeling unsure.
For complex care journeys, such as a surgery, automated patient communication pathways can be a key component of your engagement strategy. Using data-driven, personalized text messaging can make your patient outreach easy to engage with and more impactful over time. For example, follow-up text reminders triggered from a patient visit that include a short video is an easy way to both inform and show patients you care about their health.
Stay Connected Outside of the Hospital
As technology has grown, consumers have more access to digital health tools. Ensure your patient engagement strategy isn’t wholly reliant on just one method of communication like email or an app. In populations where accessibility to computers and the internet are a challenge, email might actually be a barrier to engagement. A platform that allows for text messaging and two-way communication can make your patient outreach more impactful and help reduce healthcare inequities.
Leverage Patient Engagement Data
Automated patient outreach is not only essential to inform and support, it’s also an excellent way to drive continuous improvement of the patient experience. Every interaction a patient has is an opportunity to intake data that can help inform improvements in the experience.
Analysis of timing, tone, content and more can inform future pathways. For example, if patients engage more with a casual tone message than clinical tone, you can use that data to test and expand that tone to additional message instances. At a service level, testing elements of your most successful engagement pathway across lower engagement pathways can help continuously improve performance.
Interested in learning more about how Twistle’s patient engagement software can help solve your unique communication challenges?