PatientEngagementHIT

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3 Creative Patient Engagement Strategies Improving Patient Care

Through various new programs, healthcare organizations are pushing their patient engagement strategies to the next level, bringing care to the cutting edge.

By Sara Heath

- While patient portals and secure messaging systems often get positive reviews from the healthcare industry for their abilities to involve patients in their healthcare, new and innovative approaches are also helping to improve patient engagement.

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Between new methods to improve patient satisfaction with their care and out-of-the-box solutions to less tradition problems, like transportation to and from a doctor’s appointment, patient engagement strategies are permeating all aspects of healthcare, and not just communication between the patient and the provider.

Below, PatientEngagementHIT.com discusses some of the cutting edge patient engagement solutions making their way onto the healthcare scene:

Technology helps providers match with patients

It has, of course, always been a priority for the correct specialist to see someone depending upon their needs. But some healthcare organizations are taking patient and provider matching one step further.

READ MORE: mHealth Apps Offer Patient-Centered, Convenient Recovery Care

At MedStar Health, hospital leaders are employing new technologies to make sure a specialist is the perfect fit for a patient’s needs. This means making sure the specialist actually specializes in the right form of medicine corresponding a patient’s ailment.

A patient with a knee injury shouldn’t be seeing an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders, for example. According to MedStar’s vice president and chief digital officer Michael Ruiz, a technology partnership with Kyruus is helping them to eliminate that problem and boost patient engagement and satisfaction.

“If we don’t have a good mechanism to match the patient’s needs with the doctor’s capabilities, we run the chance of having a patient showing up and being seen by the wrong doctor,” Ruiz said in an interview. “So what we want to do is kind of inverse that paradigm of, if we get it right the first time, we create this win-win situation.”

Making the appropriate match not only shows the patient that the hospital and provider are competent, but also eliminates further burden for the patient by getting them the right treatment at their first encounter.

Health organizations account for lifestyle needs

READ MORE: Internet Familiarity Tied to Patient Digital Health Literacy

Patient engagement strategies go beyond what happens in the doctor’s office. An important aspect of patient engagement is making sure patients are able to obtain a doctor’s appointment and are able to get themselves there.

Many healthcare organizations are partnering with ride-sharing services like Uber to help patients get to where they need to go. At MedStar, this has been about making the visit make sense for the patient.

“Earlier this year we launched a partnership with Uber in order to facilitate how patients who don’t have a mechanism to get to their appointments can get to their appointments and we increase access,” Ruiz explained. “We use that as well for logistics reasons, places where we have challenges with parking and things of that sort, where we give another modality for patients to be able to come to our facilities.”

Making sure patients have rides to appointments is a hugely critical part of patient engagement. For many, Ruiz said, getting a ride is the difference between getting and not getting healthcare. By offering a solution to patients, MedStar is closing that gap.

Healthcare is available on the go

READ MORE: mHealth Use Hinges on Patient Perceptions of App Efficacy

A common thread amongst the most cutting edge patient engagement strategies appears to be making healthcare support available nearly anywhere. Between offering rides to in-office appointments to some primary care services that are available in retail stores, some of the newest approaches to engagement involve getting to the patient at the patient’s convenience.

This is strongly felt in the telehealth realm, where providers can video conference with patients and offer treatment. This helps patients receive several kinds of care – from primary care to follow-up care – from the convenience of their homes.

Many advocates for mobile healthcare say this approach makes patients who otherwise would’ve skipped an appointment to seek medical care.

Dennis McWilliams, president of Apollo Endosurgery, a provider of non-invasive weight-loss surgeries, says this is because telehealth removes several barriers between the patient and getting to their doctor’s appointments.

“What we’ve found is patients are much more willing to, from the convenience of their home or sitting at their desk during their lunch hour, do a virtual consultation over the internet with a trained nutritionist, or tell their physician how they’re feeling or get a message from their physician in terms of how they’re doing with their new therapy,” McWilliams said in an interview.

Going forward, these kinds of out-of-the-box solutions will be critical to healthcare. As patient-centered care becomes more prominent through the adoption of value-based reimbursement, providers will need to make sure they are caring for the whole patient, in and outside of the office.

By engaging with their patients in creative ways and checking in with their health periodically using health technology, providers can take a step forward in delivering person-first care.

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