Patient engagement has become increasingly important in healthcare delivery in recent years. It refers to involving patients in their healthcare journey and empowering them to manage their health actively. Patients are more likely to adhere to treatment programs, make wise decisions, and have better health outcomes when actively engaged in their care. Here, we’ll discuss the advantages of raising patient participation and examine various strategies healthcare professionals may use to make this happen.
Benefits of Increasing Patient Engagement
1. Improved Patient Outcomes
The improvement of health outcomes has been correlated with patient engagement. More involved people had better health outcomes, such as fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, according to research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Patients actively participating in therapy are more likely to follow instructions, change their lifestyles, and closely monitor their health. As a result, chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease may be easier to manage, improving overall health and lowering the risk of complications.
2. Cost Savings
Engaged patients can help the healthcare system save money. Patients more actively involved in their care are less likely to require costly emergency room visits or hospitalizations. More engaged patients are also more likely to stick to their treatment plans, reducing the need for follow-up appointments or other interventions. Lower healthcare costs benefit patients, providers, and payers alike.
3. Improved Quality of Life
Improved patient quality of life is another benefit of patient engagement. Patients actively participating in their care are more likely to receive appropriate care and better health outcomes. This is critical for vulnerable groups with difficulty accessing healthcare, such as low-income individuals or members of racial or ethnic minorities. By encouraging greater patient engagement, healthcare practitioners can close these gaps and ensure that all patients receive the care they need to achieve the best possible health outcomes.
4. Reduced Healthcare Disparities
Reducing healthcare inequities can also be accomplished by including patients in their treatment. Patients are more likely to obtain the proper care and experience better health outcomes when actively participating in their care. This is crucial for vulnerable groups who could have trouble getting healthcare, such as low-income people or members of racial or ethnic minorities. Healthcare practitioners may address these gaps and ensure that all patients receive the care they require to achieve the best possible health outcomes by fostering greater patient engagement.
5. Improved Population Health
Better public health can result from greater patient engagement. Patients actively involved in their care are more likely to adopt healthy dietary habits, exercise regularly, and quit smoking. These adjustments may result in better patient and general population health outcomes. Healthcare practitioners can seek to improve the health of their entire patient population by encouraging healthy behaviors and patient involvement.
6. Increased Patient Satisfaction
Patients are happier with their care when they are actively involved in it. People are likelier to trust their healthcare professionals because they feel more invested in decision-making. This could result in more excellent communication and patient-provider interactions, raising the standard of treatment overall.
Steps to Increase Patient Engagements
Patient engagement can be raised by educating patients about their medical issues and available treatments. Patients can better decide on their care when they are knowledgeable about their diseases. They are also more likely to adhere to treatment recommendations, which leads to improved health results.
Healthcare professionals can educate their patients in a variety of ways. They can offer written materials, like pamphlets and handouts, that plainly explain medical ideas and available treatments. They can also use multimedia assets like movies, animations, and tools to clarify complex medical topics.
Healthcare providers must use clear and concise language when communicating with patients, avoiding medical jargon and technical terms that patients may need assistance understanding. They must also actively listen to patients, asking questions and soliciting feedback to understand their needs and concerns.
Empathy is also a necessary component of effective communication. Providers must be compassionate and understanding to their patients to demonstrate concern for their well-being. This can aid in developing trust and rapport with patients, increasing patient engagement and satisfaction.
Involving Patients in Care Planning
Involving patients in their care planning and decision-making process is critical to increasing patient engagement. Patients interested in their care planning are more likely to comply with their treatment plans and achieve better health outcomes.
Providers can involve patients in care planning by discussing treatment options and soliciting their input and preferences. They can also encourage patients to set goals for their care and work with them to develop a plan to achieve those goals. By involving patients in their care planning, providers can help them feel more invested in their healthcare journey and more committed to their treatment plans.
Use Healthcare Chatbots
Healthcare chatbots are an emerging technology that can increase patient engagement. Chatbots are computer programs that can simulate conversation with human users, providing instant access to information and answering common questions.
Chatbots designed for healthcare can remind patients about appointments and medications and answer questions about their health conditions and treatment options. They can also give patients educational materials and advice on how to make healthy lifestyle changes.
One of the benefits of healthcare chatbots is that they are available 24/7, giving patients instant access to information and support. This is especially useful for patients who have questions after regular office hours or live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare.
Barriers to Patient Engagement
While increasing patient engagement has many benefits for healthcare, some barriers can make it difficult for patients to participate actively in their care. The following are some of the most common barriers to patient engagement:
- Limited Health Literacy: Patients with limited health literacy may need help understanding complex medical terms and treatment options, making it difficult to engage in there carefully.
- Cultural and linguistic barriers: Communication and understanding issues may arise between patients from different cultural backgrounds or who speak a different language from their healthcare provider, making it challenging for them to participate in their care.
- Time Restriction: Patients busy with jobs, family, or other obligations may need more time to spend on their healthcare, making it difficult to stay interested and engaged in their care.
- Inadequate Information: Patients are less likely to participate in their care if they lack accurate information about their medical issues or available treatments.
- Financial constraints: Lower compliance levels result from patients with financial difficulties, such as significant out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs or medical care. Such patients are also less likely to finish required treatments or appointments.
- Negative Healthcare Experiences: Lower levels of trust and communication may emerge from patients who are reluctant to participate in their care after having a bad encounter with a healthcare practitioner.
Improving patient health requires increasing patient engagement. By educating patients, effectively communicating with them, involving them in care planning, and utilizing technology to improve patient experiences, healthcare providers can help patients take an active role in their healthcare journey. Patient engagement encourages patients to actively participate in their healthcare journey, which leads to improved health outcomes and a higher quality of life.