Healthcare’s digitization has caused many providers to feel, understandably, very excited for the industry’s future. Tech like artificial intelligence, medical grade computers, and augmented reality have already improved patient outcomes and only more innovation is on the way. That said, hospital staff isn’t the only group that needs to be blown away by these new fancy pieces of technology. Those being cared for, patients whose well-being is the driving force behind health tech innovation, need to have their needs met as well. Unfortunately, according to a survey by UPCM’s Center for Connected Medicine, only one-third of providers believe they’re delivering top quality patient engagement strategies and patient experience.

On a more hopeful note, however, the survey also revealed that half of providers believe implementing tech-based patient engagement strategies is a “critical or high” priority for healthcare facilities. Fortunately, these 4 strategies designed to improve patient engagement and satisfaction exist and they exist right now.   

1. Secure Messaging on the Patient Portal

Patients hate a useless doctor visit just as much as healthcare staff- It’s a waste of everyone’s time, effort, and money. Unfortunately, if there are no proper means of communicating with a doctor outside of a formally constructed appointment, these unnecessary visits are just part of the job. The key word there being “if”. 

Adding value to your patient portal by providing a secure messaging app can help physicians answer their patients’ smaller concerns quickly and effectively before having to dedicate entire appointments to them – appointments that could have been set for patients that actually needed the one-on-one time with a care provider. 

The idea behind adding this feature to a patient portal is to save both physicians and patients time, so it’s recommended that both parties clearly communicate their expectations about how the messaging app will be used.

Be sure to address questions such as:

  • When can patients expect answers from their doctor?
  • What differentiates a question that can be asked through the messenger versus one that should be asked in person?
  • What kind of security measures are in place for the information shared over patient portal messaging? 
  • What kind of information is the patient comfortable with their doctor sharing with them digitally?
  • And so on. 

2. Patient Outreach Through Text

Communication snafus don’t only occur when gauging how necessary an appointment is. Many physicians and patients also note a considerable amount of miscommunication when setting or rescheduling appointments. Patients are often missing calls from their physicians due to work and other responsibilities and doctors aren’t necessarily working with a lighter schedule either. What usually ends up happening is a doctor leaves a message for their patient that ends up being ignored.

Patient engagement strategies should seek to make the entire healthcare journey easier starting from setting appointments. Healthcare facilities nowadays can leverage texting, today’s primary means of communication, to optimize appointment setting. Texting can be automated, they take a second to send and respond to, and they’re immediately pushed onto a patient’s phone’s home screen which immediately brings it to their attention. Texts can even be used to confirm appointments with patients, ensuring that, should they not be able to make it to their appointment, that time slot can be given to a patient who needs it. In both cases, texting is efficient and streamlined, making the scheduling process less of a hassle for your patients which increases their engagement and satisfaction levels.

If you plan on utilizing texts for patient outreach, ensure your hospital’s messaging platform is secure and HIPAA-compliant as the CMS demands. Also, make sure you send as few texts as possible so patients don’t feel like they’re being spammed. Patients should understand that if they’re receiving a text from you, it’s because it’s an urgent matter that needs a response.

3. Bedside Tablets Provide Patient Engagement, Entertainment, and Education

Even if it’s for the sake of healing, no one likes being confined in a hospital room patiently waiting for their discharge. Bedside medical tablets can help make a patient’s stay a little less claustrophobic by giving them access to the internet, entertainment, the ability to order food, and more.

Of course, patient engagement strategies aren’t limited to solely providing entertainment. We’ve discussed before the importance of patient data access and how integral it is to patient morale and satisfaction. It’s no longer enough for patients to simply follow doctor’s orders. Now, the average patient wants access to their data and knowledge on their condition in order to play a more involved role in their recuperation. Bedside tablets can address this need for information by allowing physicians to assign education programs that gives patients deeper insight into their conditions and what’s being done to heal them.   

Of course, you’ll want to make sure the tablets you provide your patients are made with the hospital atmosphere in mind. Keep an eye out for tablets with a high ingress protection rating and a fanless design that prevents circulation of harmful bacteria inside patient rooms. It also goes without saying that a tablet with antimicrobial properties is recommended. Look for a tablet with those antimicrobial properties baked into the device’s material itself as antimicrobial coating can be wiped away after multiple disinfections.

4. Wearable Patient Devices

Patient wearables have become much more popular as at home care becomes more common and patients seek more ways to become involved in their healthcare. Wearables can take many forms, from simple pedometers and smartwatches to wearable ECG monitors. Regardless of the form they take, however, they allow patients to log information such as their activity, diet, symptoms, and adherence to treatment plans. This is all data that can be sent to physicians instantly and used to make predictive diagnoses and treatment adjustments.

Remember, though, that each piece of internet connected technology is a gateway for cybercriminals looking to steal valuable patient data. Ensure you and your IT team are taking proper cybersecurity measures if you plan on giving patients wearable devices to take home.  

Patient Engagement Strategies are Here and are Here Today

Patient engagement strategies aren’t some far off innovation we need to wait for like explainable AI or EHR interoperability. There are steps you can take today that can do wonders for the morale and satisfaction of those who seek your care. More often than not, speaking to your patients about what they need to make their care easier can reveal a mountain of insight. For more information on the tech-side of patient engagement strategies, contact an expert from Cybernet today.