In order to engage patients in their care in a meaningful and sustained way, patients must see the value for themselves. A static repository of information like a patient portal might offer some short term benefit like retrieving test results or sending a secure message to their care team, but it won’t nurture ongoing engagement. A great patient engagement strategy must align to individual patient needs and goals.
Does the information you are providing align with patient needs?
When developing your engagement strategy, start with the use cases you are addressing and the content those patients will find valuable. For patients with a chronic condition, for instance, the outcome they likely want is to be able to go about their normal daily activities with their chronic health issues well managed. Providing education, proactive intervention, and monitoring that supports that goal would be essential. For a patient facing a surgical episode, their primary goal might be the fastest recovery possible, so helping them prepare beforehand and guide them through their postoperative period is key to a valuable experience. Figuring out what will motivate your patients to engage and do what’s best for their health is the first step in a successful program.
The tricky part, though, may be communicating to patients in a way that they can clearly see what’s in it for them. If they have to decipher medical terminology and complicated information to their personal benefit, they may lose interest.
Tailoring content based on patient goals
Patients will engage with content that provides context about why it’s relevant for them and how it will help them reach their health goals. For many health-related messages, timing and format are also very important. As you think about developing an effective and satisfactory patient journey, make sure you can answer some key questions:
When you think about the action you want the patient to take – is the importance and urgency as it relates to the patient’s health goals clearly communicated? Consider a patient whose main goal is to return to long distance running after knee surgery. Make sure they can connect that outcome with your instructions and guidance.
Are you providing enough context so the patient easily understands what to do and what it means for them? Take a colorectal procedure. The care team needs to know if the patient is experiencing constipation and wants to ensure that it is avoided, or is alerted and can intervene as soon as it begins to develop. Does the patient understand why that’s so important and what consequences could result if an issue like that goes unreported?
Whether it’s meant to be educational, encouraging or attention-getting, does your content hit the right tone? Some patients need to be nudged toward making good decisions and paying attention to important dates and milestones, and others may be more self sufficient and proactive and therefore require less frequent communication. Giving patients the right amount of information at the right cadence will help keep them engaged.
Are you including practical, real world information? Providing well-timed and relevant information can help patients achieve their goals, but don’t forget that they’re concerned with getting back to regular life. A patient recovering from surgery will want to know if their surgical site is healing appropriately, but they might also want to know when they can drive again and that information can help maintain adherence to care plans. Digital engagement also gives you the opportunity to share information that patients may be embarrassed to ask, such as when it’s safe to resume activities of daily living.
Optimizing Patient Journeys
Interested in activating patients in their care by ensuring that they have an understanding, competence, and willingness to participate? Twistle’s Director of Clinical Solutions shares some insights.
Leveraging technology to test, iterate and personalize engagement
As you evaluate technologies to determine whether or not they are worth the investment, make sure to ask for the answers to several key questions.
Crafting the messages for a patient journey is not a one-time undertaking. Having the ability to test and iterate will make your engagement programs more effective. Using a flexible technology platform allows you to analyze patient behavior and interactions. When your patient communication technology can support tweaks to pathway content and timing, highlight opportunities for optimization for your organization, and automatically adjust content and cadence in response to each patient, the journey becomes hyper-personalized and meaningful. You now have a two-way street to achieve excellent engagement, outcomes and satisfaction.
If you need help optimizing and personalizing patient care pathways, contact Twistle at email@example.com.