Cultivating Patient Engagement

by Jill Reeves, MHA on Feb 20, 2017

DocPatient-2.jpgIt stands to reason that patients who engage in their care after hospital discharge are more likely to achieve favorable long-term health outcomes and prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions. Unfortunately, some patients are not as engaged as they could be. In fact, about half of medications are not taken as prescribed, and people often miss follow-up appointments, therapies or other treatments as ordered. Whether this is deliberate or due to a lack of understanding or resources, hospitals and healthcare providers must find ways to effectively and efficiently reach out to patients after they leave the hospital—especially those at risk of readmission—to encourage care plan adherence.

Using care coordination solutions, providers can bolster patient engagement by improving post-discharge communication. For instance, for patients who need to “check in” with their providers to supply periodic readings, such as weight, blood pressure or oxygen levels, hospitals can offer Bluetooth-enabled equipment—scales, blood pressure cuffs or pulse oximetry monitors — so readings are automatically sent back to the provider each time a tool is used. This allows clinicians to easily track patients’ progress without continually pestering them for information. If a concerning trend emerges or the patient skips a reading, the hospital can intervene as necessary.

For patients who struggle with or choose not to follow their care plans, hospitals can also loop in the patients’ primary care physicians or family members to encourage engagement. For example, if a congestive heart failure patient is not properly measuring his or her weight or has missed a follow-up appointment, the hospital can use a mobile care coordination app to connect with one of the patient’s family members and ask them to prompt the patient to participate in their care.

Hospitals and health systems can also use care coordination solutions to ensure patients have the resources available to adhere to their care plans. For instance, if patients aren’t picking up prescriptions or attending follow-up appointments due to lack of transportation and family support, organizations can use care coordination solutions to identify options to meet these logistical needs.

How does your organization cultivate patient engagement? Share with us in the comments section below.

Meet the Author

Jill Reeves has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry and has worked exclusively in the fields of market research, statistical analysis and healthcare interactive/digital marketing. Before joining CQuence Health Group as marketing manager, Jill was director of communications and new media for PRC, a nationwide healthcare market research organization. Jill earned a master's degree in healthcare administration from Bellevue University and a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Nebraska in Kearney. She is a published author and avid student of social media and emerging communication trends.