Six essential strategies to improve patient engagement

Imagine the following situation:
The phone is quiet. There is no ringing, no patients kept on hold. There are no printers spewing ink loudly on the prescriptions and physician reports. Everything is done online. Patients can track their care on the portal that was created specifically for their discretion. They are happy, the members of the staff are happy, the accountants are happy.

This is a potential future for the health care centers which start implementing patient engagement into the core of their business idea. It is similar for medical tourism professionals. Patient engagement helps the patient feel valued and respected by the doctor and helps doctors in lessening their workload. Also, it helps retain the patients, as they will feel more engaged with the whole process, which, in turn, motivates them to keep going with improving their health.

In medical tourism, the patient is even more the center of attention, as patients are the ones who choose whether and where they will go. However, it is also easier to engage them in the process, as they have to actively participate.

If you haven’t already developed a patient engagement strategy, here are some ideas which should form the basis of your plan.

Define the vision of your organization regarding patient engagement

Before you start any implementing, you have to have a plan. Implementing various strategies at random points, with most of your staff unprepared can lead to a lot of confusion and poorly implemented tactics, which will have adverse effects on patients and will surely push them away. Develop a thorough plan and introduce the staff to it. Discuss it with them and be open to new ideas. Work with different departments to see how to best implement your ideas to their specific cases. In the end, come up with an example (like the one in the first paragraph) of what your office should look like with this implemented, then work it down to the smallest detail.

Redefine your workplace culture to make it more engaging to patients

Integrating patient engagement into every aspect of your business requires that you make sure that the overall culture at your working place is oriented towards engaging the patients. This means getting the support from everyone on your staff. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Explain to your staff that they are critical to the success of patient engagement.
  • Show them how and why patient engagement is critical for success in today’s medical tourism industry. Explain that it brings about improved patient experience, which then leads to new ones and an increase in revenues.
  • Check whether everyone on your staff is comfortable with their tasks and responsibilities in this new plan.
  • Reward and recognize staff members who complete their tasks, and develop enforceable policies for those who don’t want to.
  • If some members of your staff are concerned that the technology will take their jobs, explain to them that technology is there to relieve us of menial and tedious tasks which come about with bureaucracy, which will leave them with more time for doing something meaningful that they have finished schools for.

Use of proper and innovative technology is a must

Use of proper and innovative technology is a must

Technology is what brought the possibility of patient engagement in the first place. With things like mail, printers, written notes and waiting in lines for a check-in now a thing of the past, it is much easier to keep the patients engaged. Instead of all of this, you have a simple-to-use online portal, which is easily accessible and provides both the patients and their doctors with an easy way to track their illness and recovery, follow their personalized health care plans, and schedule appointments/search for the right treatments.
However, you have to make sure that the technology you are using is properly secured and HIPAA compliant. Confidentiality is key in the medical practice. Not respecting patients’ confidentiality and privacy will not only lead to losing patients, but will probably get you sued in the court of law, so be careful. Speak with the software vendor about the security of the technology you are using and move together towards improving it.

Educate your patients about things relevant to overall health preservation

Education of the patients is one of the essential steps in overall patient engagement. It will lead to shared decision-making, which is both the ultimate goal and the ultimate benefit of patient engagement. With the advent of technology, the Internet and health care portals, this is easier than ever before. The portals, especially, are a perfect tool for this. It can be used to send links to articles which will improve the patients’ general knowledge about health care, as well as send information about specific illnesses and diseases, and their underlying causes and treatments to each patient. This, in line with easy-to-understand explanations when meeting the patient face-to-face, helps the patients understand what you are doing for them and why.

Get to know the patients that are using your services

Every case in medicine is unique in its own way. Symptoms might be the same, but persons experiencing them are not. This is why every patient must be approached as a completely independent case from any other before. Getting to know every patient, their environment, the people in their lives and the conditions they are living in is essential to understanding how to personalize a treatment just for them.

Be ready to adapt when the right time comes

With the technology evolving fast, it is hard to say what will be true in a couple of years’, or even months’, time. What we’ve laid here as groundwork might not be true in that time at all, although chances are high that it will be. You have to be always ready to implement new strategies as they crop up and to apply new technologies and upgrade the ones you are already using. The first thing to do about this is to be constantly updated with the latest practices and technologies. Doing constant research will allow you to stay ahead of the competition and to be the early-adopters of prospective new technologies.

Medical tourism revolves around providing personalized solutions to patients, with them being the center of attention.  This is why patient engagement is essential to any success in this field. Implementing these strategies will get you on the road to do just that – engage patients in their own health care. An engaged patient feels respected and content, and a respected patient is the one who comes back (if there’s a need, of course) and who will talk to others about the great service he/she received from your business.

For more information about the ways to improve patient engagement, please contact us!