Connections are key to patient activation

Connecting with patients is the key to activation

Faced with performance-based reimbursement and growing pressure for improving outcomes, physicians are looking for ways to improve their patient communications and education in order to engage them and activate them for better health.

While much of patient management research focuses on behavioral change finding ways that actually work to to activate patients and keep them engaged often has remained elusive. Taking a page from marketing, however, may be the best way to get patients to better understand their health, take charge of their care and improve compliance.

Increasing engagement boosts patient activation

Specifically, engagement marketing is ideally suited to physician practices for deepening connections with patients and to engage them in taking responsibility for their health. Such a marketing strategy focuses on developing a relationship over time based on ongoing, continual and respectful interactions that benefit patients.

In a study of patient activation in the Annals of Family Medicine, physicians who score highest on patient activation measures tend to focus on patient ownership of their own health, partnering with them, frequent follow-up messaging, and connection based on care and concern.

An engagement marketing strategy dovetails with those characteristics of successful physician practices, and includes these 4 principles of a successful patient engagement:

  1. Approaching patients based on who they are, and connecting with them as individuals

  2. Using multiple channels to communicate with them

  3. Maintaining patient discussions over time with ongoing messaging and communication

  4. Focusing on the patient’s desired outcomes and goals.

Using a combination of in-office and in-person messaging, with eNewsletters, blogs, patient events and social media, you are able to establish and maintain a connection with your patients over time.

Proven tactics that work

  • Patient blog – Offers the ability to extend the patient/physician discussion and provide patient education and information in informal manner that is easy-to-understand. A blog enhances your authority as a knowledgeable resource

  • eNewsletter – Provides ongoing contact with interesting news and patient education and inspiration that drives patients to your blog

  • Patient education events – Provides patients and potential patients with better understanding of healthcare topics, new research and treatments and benefits of treatment compliance.

The benefits of an engagement marketing strategy include the ability to increase patient understanding of their conditions, treatment options and compliance. Better educated patients tend to engage in more focused, more efficient patient-provider discussions. Ongoing communication provides patient support, motivation and inspiration.

Beyond the benefits of patient engagement and activation, a carefully implemented patient engagement strategy maintained over time holds the added benefits of increasing patient retention and referrals, and provides one of best returns on investment (ROI) in terms of reductions in ER and urgent care utilization, hospital stays and readmissions, according to the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative.

Medical Digest Publications is dedicated to providing healthcare content that connects patients and their providers for the goal of improving health. If you are interested in developing a patient engagement strategy for your practice, contact us via email, or by phone at 206-499-3479.