Patient engagement tech fosters communication with providers

Having a tool the provider and their staff can easily leverage to follow up with patients and family members after the encounter is key.

Technology can improve patient engagement, driving better adherence to care plans and better patient outcomes.

In the status quo patient-provider relationship, communications between patients and physicians can feel like a one-way street. The physician (likely in a time crunch) asks questions, reviews medical history, requests lab tests and necessary diagnostics, and provides assessment and care recommendations to the patient – hoping that the care plan is understood. 

But what happens if the patient doesn’t ask questions during the appointment, misunderstands the instructions and forgets to take their medication on schedule? Having a tool the provider and their staff can easily leverage to follow up with patients and family members after the encounter is key. It’s essential to provide a seamless experience for the patient or their family members to reach back to the provider’s staff for questions and concerns about their treatment plan.

Research shows that engaging patients throughout their care journey drives better care plan adherence and improves patient outcomes. By investing in the patient experience, providers will also benefit from lower readmission rates, reduced no-show appointments and patients gaining a better understanding of their care plans. 

Improving patient engagement

Patient engagement can make patient outreach better in four ways:
Provide secure test result notifications: Care teams can share test results with patients via secure text message as they become available and provide options on the next steps for the patient. If testing for COVID has occurred, texted test results can help positive patients isolate sooner to reduce their exposure to others.

Offer medication reminders and symptom check-ins: According to the American Medical Association, inadequate communication accounts for over 50 percent of medication non-adherence. Patient engagement technology can provide secure text messaging capabilities to follow up with patients concerning their disease status or send reminders to support medication or appointment adherence. If a patient expresses concern regarding symptoms or medications, clinicians can schedule a video chat to provide care. Patients who are more engaged with their physician’s care plan are more likely to adhere to this plan, reducing preventable emergency department visits.

Coordinate with patients and their caregivers: When the provider, patient and family members are all aligned on the care plan, the patient is empowered to effectively move forward with those plans. Reducing the barriers from patients or family members to follow up on questions and concerns is key to empowering the patient to follow the prescribed plan. Automating the provider’s ability to follow the patient’s adherence to the care plan can streamline the support staff’s workflow required for the ongoing engagement with their patients.

Reduce missed appointments with appointment reminders: Missed appointments directly impact the provider’s revenue stream and also extend the time a patient has to wait to receive care. Automated appointment reminders can address both issues by sending out SMS reminders before the scheduled appointment.

Essential features

When selecting a patient engagement platform, important features to consider include:

  • Eliminating the need for passwords or patient apps by enabling the patient to click a secure, encrypted URL link delivered via SMS and launch a web browser conversation in which providers and patients can discuss care topics and share pictures or documents required to resolve the issue; 
  • Providing HIPAA-compliant video, voice and text capabilities that leverage secure messaging for sending appointment reminders, collecting intake documents and driving post-visit care plan adherence with regular follow-ups and educational materials;
  • Integrating directly with electronic health records systems for workflow automation that syncs patient lists for immediate outreach to patients or their family members;
  • Providing seamless communication, enabling providers to easily switch between patient and provider conversations, add care team members to existing conversations and forward messages from a patient to other physicians.

This blog, written by TigerConnect, first appeared here.

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