Understanding Patient Engagement and Its Importance
Being actively involved in your overall well-being helps you manage your current condition better, prevent chronic illnesses in the future, and avoid significant healthcare expenses. However, patients need professional support or intervention to implement this better, which is where patient engagement comes in.
Patient engagement is a term that describes the partnership between patients and providers to facilitate better health outcomes. Patients are trusted with decision-making in different areas, including symptoms for their illness and treatment options. The information below gives you more insight into what patient engagement involves, including its benefits.
What does patient engagement involve?
Patient engagement can be categorized into direct patient care, where patients fully understand their health problem and state their preferred treatment approach after weighing the risks and benefits. The second level is where caregivers decide according to clinical judgment and after factoring in the views or opinions of a patient.
The third level is about governance, including regulations governing patient engagement. Understanding the different strategies used in patient engagement broadens your perception and may help you view patient engagement from a different lens. The frameworks for engagement include:
- Joint decision making
Shared decision-making applies when a patient and specialist cooperate to offer the proper medical intervention while considering the consumer’s preference and clinical judgment. They judge the patient’s condition, go through the available treatment options and narrow it down into the right one based on one’s preferences and the risks and benefits of the said intervention.
It is consistent in the first level of engagement which is direct patient care. A good example is a choice to treat knee pain with either surgery or pain medications. One may prefer surgery due to the taxing nature of regularly taking medications, while surgery may not be an option for others due to its risks.
Information is a prerequisite for patients to be participants in decision-making. As such, facilities should create various modalities through which this can be conducted. For example, using books and leaflets to educate patients on the importance of annual medical check-ups.
Some organizations reach out to clients through websites with information regarding different medical concerns or other times through interactive media. For this reason, health organizations have to create better and user-friendly educational platforms for patients.
- Patient activation
Patient activation is a concept that describes patients’ ability, skills, willingness, and confidence to manage their health conditions. Such patients have better engagement with providers and facilitate a seamless health experience. For example, patients who follow doctors’ prescriptions are more likely to recover and have fewer complications.
Low activation scores equal more significant health expenses. Because of negligence and lack of knowledge, such patients can hardly tell when they are sick, or when they do, fail to seek medical attention. Emergency treatment is required in most cases, which is way more expensive than a consultation with a primary care provider.
Implementation of patient engagement
The activation strategy used determines the efficacy of the concept. Various factors like patients’ background, including religious beliefs, cultural differences, sex, age, and personal belief, need to be considered. Since most people factor in cost before seeking professional help, organizations need to give patients alternatives to choose from.
Why is patient engagement critical in healthcare?
Patient engagement facilitates behavior change among patients – an essential component in managing lifestyle diseases like diabetes and preventing chronic illnesses. A healthy relationship between providers and patients also influences better decisions like eating healthy, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Informed people translate to improved population health.
While the benefits may be so many, integrating patient engagement with actual care may be challenging for most health organizations. The cost of developing interactive systems between providers and patients is excellent. A provider may also need to spend more time with one patient, resulting in reduced earnings for a medical facility.
Although this may seem to harm the business side of the health industry, that might not be the only case. Patients that are more involved in healthcare tend to frequently visit or consult with specialists in case of any health suspicions. More engaged patients also observe preventive care and are quick to seek help than low-engaged patients.
While the importance of patient engagement is obvious, more research is necessary to determine the best approach or practices for this concept. There is also a need for resources to facilitate patient participation. The good news is more and more facilities are looking into patient engagement to facilitate better health outcomes.
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