Patient engagement is seeing improvements in practice, according to CDW Healthcare’s Patient Engagement Perspectives study, although patients don’t necessarily feel the same.
The study, which explored the different perspectives patients and providers have on patient engagement, shows that 70 percent of providers have recently seen increases in patient engagement levels.
This increase in patient engagement is good news, providers report, because good patient engagement often leads to better quality of care. A total of 60 percent of providers say that they believe improving patient engagement will in turn improve care quality.
However, not all patients are seeing things the same way. Although 70 percent of providers have seen a boost in patient engagement, only 57 percent of patients report the same. In fact, a majority of patients report encountering challenges when it comes to engaging with their healthcare providers, with nearly one in five patients aged 18 to 49 reporting that engagement is particularly challenging.
The issues don’t stop there. In addition to encountering some challenges in engaging with their providers, patients aren’t noticing providers’ efforts. Only 35 percent of patients report that they noticed their providers engaging more actively with them.
These diverging perceptions aren’t for lack of trying on the provider’s part. Sixty percent of providers state that patient engagement is a top priority at their practices, and over a quarter of providers plan on improving patient access to health information via the patient portal.
Providers take expanding patient access to health data very seriously. Encouraging patients to access their health information has been the highest patient engagement priority, followed by increasing email communication, encouraging registration for the patient portal, and communicating via text message.
Although patient engagement efforts aren’t entirely translating from provider to patient, some patients are still reporting better relationships with their doctors. Sixty-three percent of patients are communicating with their physicians more frequently, and 59 percent of them are accessing their online patient information more frequently.
Patients also recognize the importance of looking at their health records. Forty-eight percent of patients note that looking at their patient records helps them learn more about their health, 45 percent say it saves them time, and 41 percent claim it improves their overall quality of care.
Patients are really noticing provider efforts with patient portals, too. Other noted patient engagement efforts include encouraging access to health information, increased communication via email, and the creation of mobile apps to aid access to healthcare.
If patients are able to recognize provider efforts with patient access to health information, why are they still reporting lower engagement levels?
It appears as though patients are looking for more face-time with their providers, and more seamless response times to inquiries. Four in ten patients report limited office hours, a third report slow provider response time, and a little under a quarter report having to repeatedly provide the same information multiple times.
In order to make patients feel more engaged, providers will have to continue to enlist the help of health technology. Three quarters of patients believe that even more and even better access to their health information will help improve their engagement levels; 67 percent of providers agree.
Patients are also looking for more of a personal touch with their healthcare. In an open-response advice-giving portion of the survey, patients expressed a desire for providers to spend more time listening to and educating their patients. They also suggested using patient satisfaction surveys and establishing reasonable response times to messages.
Going forward, patient engagement will prove to be of vital importance as the healthcare industry shifts to more patient-centered models. Between value-based care and certain program requirements, providers will need to figure out a way to close the gap in patient engagement levels and help their patients to feel truly involved in their care.