Engaging patients throughout their healthcare journey is quickly becoming a top priority for healthcare providers and managed care organizations. As the United States healthcare industry continues to shift from a volume-driven business towards one that is value-based, patient engagement is seen as a necessity when it comes to keeping patients activated in their care and driving towards better and more cost-effective outcomes.
There are many ways in which providers and health plans can keep their patients and members engaged and many software options to meet engagement goals. However, not all patient engagement software options are created equal. While there are many features that should be considered, there are three must-haves that buyers should look for when making patient engagement software purchases.
1) Meet Patients Where They Are
A smartphone app or wearable device is cool and can offer a lot of great functionality; however, more often than not, these high-tech options are not user-friendly for the patient population they seek to engage. Effective patient engagement does not require the latest technology. Instead, healthcare organizations should focus on the engagement options that patients are already familiar with, such as phone calls or text messages.
To truly drive the right behaviors and achieve the goals your team sets forth, activating and keeping patients engaged needs to be easy and must meet them where they are both in terms of their lifestyle and health journey. During a hospital stay or physician visit, patient engagement could mean creating meaningful interactions that address potential concerns such as communicating medication information. It can also mean asking patients their engagement preferences and enrolling them into programs that will meet their needs post-visit.
When patients are in the hospital or at a doctor’s appointment, there are still many ways to foster engagement and share educational information. For example, UCSF Health kept their primary care population engaged by leveraging automated calls to deliver preventive screening education and reminders. Through this program, patient engagement software helped to increase the number of completed screenings 3.4X. By focusing on meeting their patients where they are in their care journey, the health system was able to surpass goals and have since expanded their automated preventive calls and texts to more populations.
2) Integrate Into Current Systems/Processes
In addition to meeting patients where they are, you also want your patient engagement software to work with your current systems and processes. This will ensure your team members leverage the technology and can help maximize the benefits. For a healthcare provider, at a basic level, this likely means being HIPAA compliant and able to pull information from the EMR to aid in engagement processes. For a health plan, this may mean needing to integrate into registries or state Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) to be effective.
By utilizing patient engagement software that will fit into existing processes, organizations will increase the likelihood that their staff and patients will find value in it. For example, if you are engaging patients when they are inside the hospital, chances are, the leadership team will want to round on patients to increase their engagement and satisfaction scores. When looking at patient engagement software such as a digital rounding tool, organizations should seek out vendors that integrate with their EMR at a minimum. Additionally, it may be valuable to have HRIS and Service Recovery systems integrations as well, especially to facilitate staff engagement.
For Akron Children’s Hospital, being able to augment their service recovery processes was paramount in looking for digital rounding software. They already had workflows in place to engage volunteers, such as their doggy brigade, in an effort to keep patients and their families happy. By leveraging the alerting and flagging features offered by CipherRounds, they not only integrated with their current workflows but enhanced them as well. This ensured faster identification and resolution of issues and even provided in-depth reports on their most utilized services. Ultimately by proactively engaging patients and making the process easy for staff members, the hospital was able to achieve its goals around HCAHPS improvement.
3) Deliver Actionable Data
Creating an engagement strategy is a great first step for healthcare and managed care providers to improve outcomes, enhance experiences, and reduce the overall cost of care. However, to sustain improvements and scale for larger patient volumes, your patient engagement software needs to provide actionable data.
As an example, this may mean identifying larger trends, such as the most common issue facing patients post-discharge and being able to take steps towards improving them. Instead of helping resolve one issue at a time, organizations can put plans in place to address the root cause and will help sustain positive outcomes and better experiences.
When looking to purchase patient engagement software, understanding the ways in which reports and data will help you and your team take action is critical to long-term success.
Drive Towards Goals with Patient Engagement Software
From meeting quality goals to reducing avoidable readmissions, keeping patients engaged in their care, through every stage of care, will have a tremendous impact on loyalty and overall organizational performance. As payers and providers continue to drive value-based healthcare, patient involvement will be a key success factor. Keeping these three must-haves in mind when choosing your member or patient engagement software will help your team achieve greater success.