Patient Engagement: Beyond Technology

Patient engagement is not a buzzword. Nowadays, healthcare providers and payers are realizing that patients are more self-concious about their role in their own health. They want to be more informed about diseases they are suffering or are at risk, they want to keep easy access to their health records or at least their care plans (i.e list of medicines, activities they have to do), they love to book appointments easily and access to a doctor in a short period of time. They want to have real-time access to everything related to them.

I am including overall population here, not just Generation X or millennials (who we are pretty sure have technology at the palm of their hands). Now, healthcare providers have to keep in mind those senior population that are becoming tech savvy and those who do not, but have caregivers who are looking for advises and easy access to the health of their loved ones.

In the healthcare market we are seeing a lot of digital offerings which claim to solve the problem, I mean, the patient engagement problem.

Healthcare providers have to understand their needs. They need to think about technology that fits better to them that is able to integrate in their workflows, affordable to budgets and easy to use.

If  “Patient Engagement” Were just a problem with a digital solution, I would say that younger generations would be healthier than older ones. It could be true, from the physiological perspective, you know, physical impairments such as loss hearing, decrease in bone density, memory lost and other normal impairments that come with age.

Patient / paciente

But we are seeing young and adult population, (who are more tech savvy) suffering or at risk of multiple chronic conditions. In USA for example, it is well-known that adult and younger generations are not having healthy lifestyles. Increasing of junk food consumption, sedentary lifestyle (i.e spending a huge amount of hours at the computer and other electronic devices, driving cars rather than walking or running), alcohol consumption and smoking habits are reasons that probably are killing people in USA.

Then, if people are better informed about conditions, treatments, the best doctor to see. If  people have the ability to see a doctor in 10 minutes or less, if medicines prescribed are delivered at patient’s home, if everything related to healthcare is at their hands, why the number of people suffering chronic conditions is increasing?

Patient Engagement goes beyond technology. A big health system may have the best technology for them, which makes automatization of processes, but still have a high rate of patient absenteeism to appointments and even high rate of readmissions rates and ER visits. This is more than that!

That human interaction is needed for all generations. Millenials for example, are self-independent, this is not a secret, but even so, they need to be reminded about basic things, things they know, because (we know) this generation and other, younger, are not only tech savvy but also have a  high health literacy.

The technology by itself does not work. The  human touch is relevant to engage patients in treatments. From the Doctor’s office to the patient’s home, to the patient’s workplace.

But how?

patient / paciente

We would say from the improvement of “Patient Experience”, Which encloses “User Experience” Improvement.

The human interaction is very relevant for all healthcare practices, before moving to technological implementations, be sure not to lose it. Wheter you see a patient using video, or wheter your patients have to wait long time in a waiting room, be sure the experience be great for them. You may say “Hello” and you may try to remember patient name, you cannot imagine how important is for patient be reminded by name and not by a number. Train your staff about human relationships as well. Be kind, smile. Those apparently insignificant things, may make a big difference.

When your patients spend long time in waiting room, make it comfortable for them. Think about guests you invite at  your place, you want your home to look as much comfortable as possible, so you start the conversation about topics they like and not about the ones you like. And how you get to know the main topics of your guests? Asking basic things to them, thus, you may know their likes and dislikes. And if you want to be visited by them again, you do everything needed for that: Cooking their preferred foods, keeping your home beautiful, talking to them about topics they want or like.

Once your guests are out your home, you try to get in touch with them once in a while, because you want they comeback, that is the same with your patients, once they are out your office, keep in touch with them, look for their preferred channel of communication and schedule for follow ups.

Digital offerings may help you on that. Try to analyze how well the offering may fit in your practice, how useful will be for your patients and, of course, what would be the ROI.

How Esvyda can increase patient engagement

Esvyda enables that patient engagement with the improvement of communication among health care providers, payers, caregivers and patients as well as the human touch interaction, developed by a health care coach who communicates with patients with empathy and non-judgment.

Esvyda complements its solution with technological tools such as telemonitoring of vital signs, lifestyle and medication and the integrated workflow for risk assessment, management and care coordination of patient, creating an efficient healthcare ecosystem in USA.

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