4 Strategies to Improve Patient Engagement

Improving the health and lives of patients is the most significant aim that healthcare strives for. One way to ensure this is by promoting patient engagement. It is a concept that involves combining a patient's skills, knowledge, and ability to manage their health with interventions designed to improve their health outcomes.

Patients who actively manage their health tend to take steps to better their health including taking their medications as prescribed and showing up for medical visits. Consequently, their quality of life tends to improve. However, the opposite is true for patients who are not actively engaged in managing their health. Less engaged patients are more likely to have unmet medical needs and delayed medical care.

Getting patients to manage their health conditions can be a challenging feat. Most of the modern engagement techniques involve the use of technology which may not be favourable for everyone. The complexity of software operations can be overwhelming, especially for older patients who may not be conversant with modern technology trends. The following strategies can help increase patient engagement for tech and non-tech-savvy patients.

Engage in shared decision making
Shared decision-making cultivates trust and builds a relationship between patients and providers. It describes a process whereby clinicians and patients work together to choose diagnostic procedures, treatments, and care plans while considering a patient's preferences. In shared decision-making, patients have the liberty to choose their treatment, but under the guidance of a physician.

It increases the likelihood that a patient will adhere to the treatment plan. For patients to be involved in shared decision-making, they need to have options to choose from. For example, if a woman has uterine fibroids, the physician may enlist various treatment options, including watchful waiting, medications, and uterine artery embolization. The doctor will explain the risks and benefits of each procedure to the patient and help evaluate the options.

Encourage patients to set their health goals
Working towards a specific goal is usually a motivating factor. Therefore, it is an essential aspect of patient engagement since patients actively promote their well-being. For example, a patient diagnosed with obesity may learn that exercising and eating healthy goods are vital to losing extra pounds.

However, without specific goals, they may get tired along the way. As a healthcare provider, you need to arrange goal-setting discussions to guide a patient to set reasonable targets. For example, the weekly goal of an obese patient may be losing one to two pounds. While helping your patients set goals, ensure they are achievable, realistic and timely. Although goal-setting is essential, the information on attaining those goals is even more critical. If your patient needs to lose 20 pounds, equip them with the strategies to help them lose those extra pounds. For example, you may recommend a fitness trainer and a dietitian to help them with exercise and dietary adjustments, respectively.

Reward patients
It is common for employees to reward their staff after attaining or exceeding their targets. It makes them feel appreciated and drives them to work harder. Clinicians can use rewards as a motivating factor to work towards set goals. Rewarding patients encourages them to achieve their goals and builds the patient-provider relationship.

A gift can be in the form of a certificate or an entry into a raffle. A gift doesn't have to be expensive, and you may be amazed at what small rewards can do. However, rewarding your patients should not be a substitute for quality care. Patients will more likely leave for other facilities if you offer poor quality services regardless of the reward.

Offer continuous care
Every interaction with a patient counts, and you don't just engage with patients once or a few times a year. Healthcare providers need to reach out to their patients to encourage and inquire about their well-being. Treating every interaction with consistency makes patients feel valued and cared for. Continuity of care is therefore essential in promoting patient engagement.

Although continuous care is essential for every patient, it is especially beneficial for those living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. One of the common ways healthcare facilities employ continuous care is by calling or sending messages to their patients every month.

Involving a patient in managing their health condition improves their overall quality of life. Every provider should practice the above strategies to promote better patient outcomes. 

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