As a doctor, you’re tasked with helping patients make savvy healthcare decisions, but ultimately, they’re in the driver’s seat. Every decision — from the provider they choose to the frequency of visits — is at their discretion, so you need to keep them engaged.
Most adults — 84 percent, according to a 2016 National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have had contact with a healthcare professional in the past year. If your waiting room isn’t full of familiar faces, read on to learn the benefits of patient engagement.
5 reasons patient engagement strategies are vital to your practice
1. It’s easy for patients to find a different doctor
There are nearly 1 million professionally active physicians in the U.S. as of October 2018, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is patient engagement important?,” you can consider this a key reason.
If you don’t connect with patients, there’s a good chance they won’t return to your practice. Since they have plenty of options, patients who aren’t satisfied for any reason can easily find another provider.
Their decision to move on can be caused by anything from a lack of personalized service to the absence of user-friendly patient engagement tools. Essentially, when people feel like they can get the same — or better — quality of care from another doctor, they tend to move on.
2. Unengaged patients might miss regular appointments
When patients are engaged, they’re proactive about their health. Consequently, they’re more likely to schedule necessary appointments (e.g. preventative care appointments and those needed to manage chronic conditions).
Not only are regular doctor visits crucial to patients’ health, this level of consistency is imperative to your bottom line. Americans spent an average of $10,739 per person on healthcare in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Low patient engagement can make it hard to reach revenue goals. If patients don’t seek care on a regular basis, the lack of revenue can put your practice in jeopardy.
3. Patient engagement tools ease the burden on administrative staff
Your administrative staff has a lot on their plates, so incorporating patient engagement tools like automated patient reminders and an online scheduling tool can benefit everyone. For example, results of an Accenture survey revealed 77 percent of patients place a high value on the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments electronically.
Streamlining office tasks performed by your administrative staff can boost levels of patient engagement, because it leaves more time for face-to-face interaction. When properly implemented, patient engagement tools provide the best of both worlds: People feel like they’re in control of their health, and your staff has more time to focus on them.
4. Patient engagement leads to better outcomes
Engaged patients take a proactive role in their health. They schedule regular appointments with their doctors and carefully monitor what’s going on with their bodies.
Consequently, one of the best components of patient engagement is the ability to make a difference. There’s no guarantees in healthcare, but patients who actively participate in their own well-being have a better chance of overcoming or managing health issues.
5. Satisfied patients are more likely to return to your practice
Learn how to increase patient engagement by going straight to the source. Sending patient satisfaction surveys after every visit lets you know exactly where your practice stands.
People want to work with a provider who makes them feel heard. Therefore, finding out what you’re doing right and promptly addressing any issues will boost patient satisfaction levels.
Catering to patient needs promotes engagement, because it provides people with a positive experience. If patients enjoy working with you, they’re more likely to return.
Some people are eager to take an active role in their healthcare, but others need an extra push. As a provider, it’s your job to implement effective patient engagement strategies that rouse everyone, so take this as your cue to get to work.
Curious to know the current levels of patient engagement at your practice? Check out this blog post for questions you should ask to gauge satisfaction and patient engagement.