September 01, 2015
Patient engagement is important for healthcare providers in order to enhance operational performance and improve quality of care. ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) and CMS (Centre for Medicare & Medicaid Services) have always stressed on the importance of improving patient engagement strategies in healthcare organizations. These strategies also play a vital role in MU (Meaningful Use) regulations because population health outcome can be improved by involving patients with their health and wellness.
It is necessary for providers to understand the importance of using patient portals because increased use of health IT tools will help in improving patient engagement down the line. According to a report by HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), health IT tools have a vital role to play in improving the relationship between physicians and patients. The potential barriers of communication between patient and providers can be reduced with the effective use of patient portals, social media and secure messaging (including emails).
There has been some difference of opinion as far as use of HIT and patient engagement is concerned. While some providers find it useful, others state that HIT has had no impact on improving patient health outcomes. Experts believe that HIT can prove effective only when used in the right manner. It should be used in co-ordination with various other strategies to improve the outcome.
Here are five ways medical practices can change how patients interact with the healthcare organization:
The first way is to ensure that patients are educated about their health plan and other details about their care routine. It is important to provide them with educational materials that are easily available online. They should also be able to access information related to their visits or care information related to their chronic conditions
Second method is to make it easy for patients to see their doctors, when in need of care. They should be able to log in to the patient portal, check the doctor’s schedule and make an appointment on their own
Enable the patients to enter data into their own health records which will become a part of the clinical workflow. This will make it easy for the doctor to track the progress of patient’s health and make necessary modifications in the care routine, if required
Fourth point involves messaging through patient portal. Through messaging it has become easy to share information, coach patients and eliminate unnecessary office visits
Last but not the least; an open medical records policy will go a long way in improving patient engagement at the healthcare organization. Many providers make electronic patient information accessible for the patients including lab results and images. Patients can also review physician notes online once their visit is over and schedule a follow-up appointment, if required
Patient engagement is necessary and an enhanced strategy for the same will go a long way in patient satisfaction along with improved operational and financial efficiency at the medical practice.