patient engagement

Patient Engagement and Patient Experience help reducing hospital readmissions

Patient engagement refers to the concept of the patient’s behavior where he/she proactively participates with the healthcare provider, whereas patient experience is a concept which encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the different tiers of the healthcare system such as interactions with doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, or basically the whole healthcare system. Some people use it interchangeably because both are linked together and are used towards achieving a common goal- reducing hospital readmissions.

patient engagement

Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a concept which deals with patient activation, which is mostly empowering the patient so that the patient feels like they can take an informed decision about their healthcare to improve treatment outcome, lower costs, and also help provide more efficient patient care. This also rests in the hands of the healthcare system, as they are the ones who encourage patient engagement in the first place. There is also a framework for patient engagement, which is as follows:

  1. Shared Decision-Making Stage: In this stage, the patient is informed about his/her condition, and the patient participates in the decision-making process along with the healthcare provider. This approach is used mostly for patients whose situation is more preference sensitive.
  2. Patient Activation: In this stage, the patients are more aware and understand their situation as they know their condition. Research among 30,000 patients at Fairview health services in Minnesota suggests that patients with a lower level of understanding about their condition incurred 8% – 21% more costs in healthcare. Thus, this step of active involvement of the patient to treat their situation is the stage called patient activation. However, it does require the assistance of the healthcare systems, as they have accurate information regarding the patients.
  3. Broader Patient Engagement: This step is more about mass awareness creation and social interpretations of patient engagement. The concerned parties are to influence patient participation in such a way that it helps the masses; they try to educate the masses about their conditions so that they can make informed consensual decisions about their healthcare with respect to their healthcare providers.

Patient Experience

Patient experience refers to the number of interactions patients have with the healthcare system. It includes their care from health plans, and doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities. It is a core aspect of healthcare quality and is used to help measure a healthcare system’s ranking- the better the patient experience, the better the healthcare system, and vice versa. It also consists of components which patients value highly, like appointments, the hospital itself, the care they receive – basically everything associated with the healthcare provider. This is the basic concept of the patient experience. Healthcare providers use a combination of tools to enhance the patient experience. For example, to have an edge over other healthcare systems, many uses biometric patient identification like RightPatient, which matches the patient with their EHRs using iris scanning.

The link between Patient Engagement and Patient Experience

There are several factors which can interlink patient engagement and patient experience amongst them. A few are mentioned below:

  • Better patient engagement and experience lead to better patient satisfaction.
  • Better patient engagement and experience offer better value for patients’ money.
  • Better patient engagement leads directly to better patient experience.
  • Better follow up results in positive patient experience.
  • Patient engagement makes having a better patient experience more comfortable for the patient.
  • The liability of informed consent is divided between the patient and the caregiver, which affects the patient experience positively.
  • Better patient experience and better engagement go hand in hand in the financial aspects of the healthcare system as they help reducing hospital readmissions.

Effects on the hospital readmission rate

  • Better engagement and experience relate to better reputation buildup of the hospital, which affects readmission rates by reducing hospital readmissions.
  • Better engagement leads to more effective treatment, which reduces risk-standardized readmissions.
  • Better overall patient experience will result in the patient choosing the hospital over other hospitals in case of another condition of him/her or a family member.
  • Better engagement and experience lead to patient satisfaction, which results in a reduction of risk-based readmissions and increases reputation-based readmissions.
  • With better patient engagement, patients are acquainted with the treatment plans and procedures correctly, which results in lowering risk-based readmission as well.
  • Involvement of the hospital staff leads to better mental satisfaction in the patient as well, which results in better word of mouth reputation, and also leads to more effective treatment, which helps in reducing hospital readmissions.

Many healthcare providers are very successfully providing both positive patient experience and increased patient engagement. For enhanced patient experience, RightPatient is the choice of many for biometric patient identification, which speeds up the overall process, helping the hospital staff to save significant time identifying the incoming patients so that they can put resources to better use in critical tasks. Patient engagement has a lot of tools, as well. However, the recent trend is to use apps like CircleCare, a patient retention app with a lot of benefits for both the patients as well as the healthcare systems. It can track steps, provide reminders regarding medicine, record glucose levels, blood pressure, as well as help the patients communicate with their healthcare providers. After the hospital subscribes to the app, the patient only needs to download it and use it, not only to communicate with their physicians but also for better health, which will help with patient engagement as well as provide better patient outcomes by reducing hospital readmissions, creating a win-win situation for all.

Patient experience

Patient experience and patient engagement: Is there any difference?

There are quite some differences between engagement and experience. However, in the healthcare industry, the terms patient engagement and patient experience are sometimes used interchangeably due to which people believe that they are the same thing, confusing. To clear it up- patient experience and patient engagement are not the same things.Patient experience

In the healthcare industry, hospitals are assigning more resources than ever to improve the patient experience. Likewise, both technology and employees are being utilized to find out how patient engagement can be improved. Patient engagement has been becoming increasingly important because the patients are playing an active role as they use more smartwatches, keep track of their data like steps, blood pressure, and others.

However, what are the actual differences in patient experience and patient engagement? Let us find out.

Patient experience

Patient experience is the summation of all the experiences an individual has during his/her interactions with the healthcare system. It starts right from the phone call until the checkups. In between, there are more parts of the patient experience, like the visit to the hospital, the quality of the care provided by the hospital, billing experience, and can be many more varying on the situation. To sum it up, all these small interactions make up the entire patient experience. A key feature of patient experience is that the responsible party is the healthcare system and not the patient. Thus, it entirely depends on the healthcare provider whether the experience will be good or otherwise.

Patient engagement

On the other hand, patient engagement, as per its definition, consists of the steps an individual must take to acquire the maximum benefits from the available healthcare services. See the difference? It is quite clear from the definition itself. It puts the patients in charge of their healthcare. Various services are made available to the patient from the provider’s end. However, it is up to the patient whether he/she wants to avail those or not- the patient needs to act or engage with those services. For instance, CircleCare is a part of those healthcare services- it is an app through which the patient can participate in various engagement activities effectively.

In short, patient experience is the responsibility of the healthcare provider, whereas patient engagement is in the hands of the patients, provided that the services are made available by the hospitals. However, it is beneficial for both the patients and the healthcare provider if the patient engagement is increased, as it causes the patients to become more responsible and make the whole healthcare process easier for themselves and the providers.

One key patient engagement strategy for hospitals to use is patient retention apps. These apps help to keep the hospitals be in constant communication with the patients, making the recovery process more streamlined and help to retain them. CircleCare is such an app. It helps the patients keep records of their health data, track their steps, share updates, learn health tips, and share useful information within their circle. Once the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patient can download, register, and use right away- it is that easy! While engaging within the app, it helps the patients be proactive, live more healthily, and helps the hospitals by assisting them to retain the patients, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmission CircleCare

Ways in which patient engagement strategies prevent hospital readmission

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmissionOne of the main determinants of performance in the healthcare industry is reducing hospital readmission. In layman’s terms, it means that the lower the hospital readmission rate, the better the services are of the healthcare system. Many healthcare systems are trying their best to lower their readmission rates to save costs as well.

Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) was introduced by CMS in 2010 to deal with reducing hospital readmission rates. It has been successful, as it has helped to reduce readmissions by 8 percent.

On the surface, it might sound good and relatively easy. However, reducing hospital readmissions can be quite a challenge as it depends on several factors. Other than providing first-class care to the patients, the healthcare systems must also ensure the patients engage in post-discharge care management so that their condition becomes better, not worse.

How do the healthcare systems do that exactly?

Highlighting high-risk patients

During the post-discharge period, there are a lot of probable patients who might suffer from a medical issue. After identifying them, the task is to focus the engagement efforts towards these high-risk individuals. To determine the high-risk patients, the clinician can start looking at the healthcare conditions, which cause the highest readmissions. For instance, pneumonia, which is not caused by STIs or tuberculosis, causes 88,800 readmissions.

Not only medical conditions, but there are also other factors which can cause readmissions. Patients may have limited knowledge regarding specific topics. They may have limited health literacy, limited language skills, others may receive different information from different officials in the same healthcare system, and others can even be omitted from post-discharge care.

Patients can also be at risk of readmission if they are facing particular social determinants of health (SDOH). For instance, transportation issues, job security, and similar issues may prevent the patient from following up with the clinicians, which in turn will cause adverse health effects and thus readmission. Likewise, low earners will not be able to afford home care following the discharge.

The healthcare systems need to create follow-up procedures based on the above situations. By engaging with both the patients and their families and keeping in mind the SDOH, hospitals not only can make their follow-up strategies better but also help reducing hospital readmission.

Another solution to all these problems can be CircleCare patient retention app. It can provide essential health tips to the patients, keep track of their steps, maintain their medicine schedules, and also be a medium of communication with the hospital. After the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patients only need to download the app to use these benefits, which can help reducing hospital readmission significantly.

Engaging both patients and their family members

In the recovery phase, it is best to involve and engage not only the patients themselves but also their family members. This will help as the family members are aware of the patient’s preferences and thus can make him/her feel more comfortable as well as follow the instructions of the hospitals. This helps reduce the readmission rate by 25 percent for 90-day readmissions and 24 percent for 180-day readmissions.

Also, it is an excellent strategy to provide the guidelines in writing during the patient’s discharge, as it gives a detailed description for the patient to follow post-discharge. Statistics support this, as patients who were not provided with any detailed guidelines had 24 percent more chance to be readmitted.

Acknowledgment of SDOH

No matter the strategies, some patients may not be able to comply with the post-discharge and follow-up guidelines, which may not even be there fault. The SDOH can act as a barrier to their betterment.

According to Health Services Research, if the SDOH were factored into the HRRP, 21.8 percent penalty reduction would take place.

SDOH is not considered in the HRRP. The hospitals can provide questionnaires to the patients or their family members to find out whether they face any of the SDOH or some other barrier while availing post-discharge healthcare and follow-ups.

CircleCare

As there are various problems which might be faced by the patients- SDOH, lack of written instructions, or others, the best possible solution would be to give them something which they can access according to their convenience. CircleCare can not only engage the patients, but also keep track of their information like blood glucose, blood pressure, and remind them of their medicine intake. It also provides the patients with health tips and rewards and can be used to provide detailed instructions post-discharge as well as share health updates with the hospitals. All this will not only help improve the health of the patients, but it will also be a platform where the patients can be more engaged with the hospital by sharing their health-related statistics so that the officials can provide proper feedback. This, in turn, will cause patient satisfaction to rise, and ultimately, patient retention will be achieved.

patient engagement in healthcare

5 Ways Technology Is Improving Doctor Patient Collaboration

patient engagement in healthcare

Is technology in healthcare playing an important role to improve patient engagement? Photo courtesy pf pixabay)

The following post on improving patient engagement in healthcare was submitted by Audrey Thorne.

Innovative technologies and groundbreaking discoveries have changed the face of the healthcare industry. Due to them, ailments that were previously life threatening are now easily cured, surgical procedures have become less invasive and self-help devices have given birth to an empowered and more health conscious society.

Moreover, in addition to enhancing the quality of patient-care, these technological advancements have also revolutionized physician-patient relationship – making it much more collaborative in nature.

Nowadays, we see doctors being able to keep a constant eye on their patients via tracking devices, patients being able to connect instantly to their physicians via video calling apps and both equally partaking in the healthcare process.

This serves to not only expand the reach of healthcare services but also makes patient-care much more pertinent and personalized. The tremendous utility of such technologies can be gauged from the fact that 52% of healthcare service providers utilize at least 3 connected health technologies to maintain contact with their patients. Here we take a look into how technology is improving doctor patient collaboration:

1. Engaging patients in the healthcare process:

The government is struggling to make optimum use of a limited amount of resources in order to provide healthcare services to a growing population. This disproportionate ratio of medical service providers to patients causes patients to endure long waiting times in healthcare settings and also inhibits physicians from spending sufficient time with patients to provide in depth consultation and monitoring.

Even in the coming decade, the Association of American Medical Colleges has projected a shortfall of physicians ranging from 61,700 to 94,700 causing healthcare providers to search for innovative ways to increase the reach as well as the scope of healthcare services.

It is due to these escalated efforts that we now have a number of devices and applications that facilitate round the clock correspondence between doctors and patients and also enable patients to become actively involved in the healthcare process.

These technologies include informative sources that give patients a greater understanding of the intricacies of their condition and possible courses of treatment and allow them to decide on a care plan in collaboration with their physician.

This in turn increases their ownership of their care plan as well as their determination to see it through.

Moreover, we also now have an array of reliable self assessment tools such as Brain Test to help detect the presence of ailments, in this case cognitive disorders, that not only serve to satisfy patient curiosity but also encourage them to seek timely medical assistance.

In addition to these, self-help apps like Fitbit allow patients to constantly monitor and improve their health. This is crucial since healthcare by nature is a two-way process where it is absolutely essential for both parties to play their part for a treatment to be effective.

Therefore, these technologies, albeit simple, have proven to be game-changers as they have allowed patients to play their part in ensuring their health and well-being.

2. Personalized services:

A decade ago, hospitals used to run on paper-based records with the staff having to go through stacks of files in order to learn about a patient’s medical history. Likewise, patients had to personally maintain their medical records and repeat their history to every doctor that they visited.

Both these factors caused healthcare services to be disease-specific whereby physicians would attempt to diagnose an ailment based on the information available and recommend treatments to resolve the underlying issue.

However, technology has shifted healthcare from being disease-specific to individual-specific as physicians are now able to use electronic medical records to provide tailored treatments to patients.

This has catapulted the quality of medi-care by allowing accurate diagnosis and treatment and has also deepened the relationship between doctors and patients. Doctors are now able to remain in touch with their patients throughout and even after the course of the treatment via online forums and applications such as Epocrates that facilitate doctor-patient dialogue.

Moreover, such apps also provide doctors with a more intricate understanding of patient condition and enhance the confidence that patients have in their healthcare provider.

They also help patients feel much more secure as they know that their physician is only a few clicks away. In addition to this, these technologies enable physicians to provide ongoing support to patients who are adjusting to new medications or have been requested to make significant lifestyle changes as part of their treatment.

3. Reduced waiting times:

People often delayed or avoided seeking medical consultation in the past because they were unable to take time out for a lengthy trip to the hospital.

However, this hesitation to endure a tedious hospital visit had serious long-term repercussions as it allowed ailments to worsen and increased the risk of hospital admissions. Thankfully, we now have bountiful apps that allow patients to gain instantaneous consultation from physicians via video calls.

Moreover, these apps have also improved correspondence between doctors and patients when it comes to arranging appointments. Patients can now receive timely reminders about upcoming appointments from their healthcare provider which consequently leads to fewer patient no-shows.

4. Improved marketing:

Hospitals use marketing channels such as emails, social media, instant messaging, etc to apprise patients about new cures and treatments in an attempt to increase the quality of patient-care and increase public awareness.

Previously, they had to send out mass emails and messages which at times would be thought of as irrelevant and spam by patients. This correspondence, however, has improved drastically over the past few years, as hospitals are now able to send out communications to specific patients with specific needs.

5. Focus on prevention rather than cure:

With social media platforms, blogs and websites, physicians are able to disseminate a huge amount of information about disease prevention and cure and are able to respond to general queries by patients.

This ready availability of information and informal access to medical consultation has shifted the focus of patients from curing ailments to avoiding them in the first place.

By doing so, doctors are not only able to help save countless lives but are also able to relieve burden off of healthcare providers who strive to provide services to an ever increasing base of clients.

Technology has revolutionized doctor-patient dynamics, however, when we look at the rampant pace of technological developments it is safe to assume that this relationship will continue to evolve drastically in the years to come.

5 Ways Technology Is Improving Doctor Patient CollaborationAudrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from university of Birmingham. As a blogger she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. Currently, she is associated with heartfeltadopt Team.

Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.