One of the biggest challenges healthcare organizations face today is patient engagement. At Citra, we define successful engagement as:
- Knowledge: Patients understand what care and educational opportunities are available to them.
- Guidance: Patients seek professional help when making care decisions.
- Compliance: Patients participate in and complete care and education programs appropriately.
The first step to successful engagement is establishing trust. Healthcare organizations must develop business models where the core mission is patient well-being. Expressing genuine concern and support builds trust. Communicating the organization’s goals and continually emphasizing why knowledge, guidance, and compliance can ensure a healthy life strengthens trust.
Your message needs to be “We Care,” but it’s critical that the patient cares as well.
Unfortunately, there is much evidence that many patients do not care. All too often medication regimens are not followed, appointments are not kept, and diet and exercise recommendations are not followed.
It may be time to let everyone know it is a matter of national importance that we all do something, as individuals and organizations, to better manage our healthcare and its costs.
How can we facilitate this?
- There needs to be constant communication supporting the engagement model.
- “Nudges” are needed to move patients to make better decisions.
- Early escalation models are needed that can identify issues before they become expensive.
Regarding constant communications, NCQA has identified specific Patient Centered Medical Home outreach activities that also seriously “nudge” patients into compliance and ensure coordination of care. The standards call for constant communication with patients who need care.
Mobile and web self-triage technology, with a real time escalation path to clinicians and healthcare services, can catch high acuity issues early and relegate low acuity situations to home care — effectively right-sizing care and spending.
Finally, nurses can be used for personalized outreach. They can gently, but firmly, communicate the patient’s responsibility and the consequences of non-compliance.
In fact, nurses are often best suited for spearheading the engagement model; studies have shown patients trust nurses above all other clinicians.
These recommendations are by no means definitive. However, they do provide a starting point for an evolving patient engagement strategy.