What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement has been the talk of the hospital for a while now. Healthcare providers are now at a point of realizing the importance of engaging patients. As well as including them in every aspect of the care process.
But what exactly is patient engagement?
Definition of Patient Engagement
When searching for a clear definition of patient engagement, you will find many different interpretations. It all depends on the focus of patient engagement.
Our definition of patient engagement is this:
” The process by which patients become invested in their own health, so they can make well-informed decisions about their health and care. “
What we mean by this definition is the need for a change in the patient’s role. Where they used to be the passive subject, they should now be an active participating team member.
We believe patient engagement is about making patients feel more confident and health conscious. As well as involving patients with better health outcomes as a result.
Examples of Patient Engagement
As said before, patient engagement can mean many things to many people. It can be described as the overall involvement of patients or as individual forms of patient engagement.
To give you an idea of what patient engagement could mean for your hospital, take a look at these examples:
Shared Decision Making
It’s not that long ago when patients were simply informed about their condition and course of treatment. It was more or less one way communication.
Patient engagement focuses on involving patients in all aspects of their health. This means staying healthy and becoming healthy. When patients feel included in crucial healthcare decisions, they are more like to put in the effort.
They were fully aware when they made the decision together with their doctor and know what is asked of them. They also tend to make better lifestyle choices to support their recovery and general health.
Communication via EHR
New EHR technologies make accessing health records easier for patients. Having access to their own health information and being informed helps them communicate with healthcare providers.
Knowledge is power and knowing about their own health helps patients stay in control in an often insecure situation. EHR systems are not just there for doctors and nurses.
They are there to be a centralized connection between doctors, nurses, the hospital and the patients. EHRs provide every stakeholder with critical information, keeping everyone on the same page – including the patient.
Patient Portal Access
A patient portal is key to further support better communication between patients and healthcare providers. We all love when different services are combined in one system, giving us access through one single password.
Patient are not different. Making a patient’s life easier by offering them the possibility to make follow-up appointments, pay bills or find critical information is an essential part of patient engagement. If something is hard to do you are less likely to put in the effort and become involved.
The easier it is for patients to take control of their health and become involved, the more likely they will become involved. Giving patients the tools to make their lives easier is a leading example of patient engagement.
User-generated Data, Tracking & Logging
One thing healthcare providers should realize in combination with patient engagement is the value patients can actually offer them. We live in a world where there is an app for absolutely everything.
Wearable devices like the FitBit and iWatch stand at the center – they provide hospitals with high valuable patient-generated data. Patients are tracking everything and keeping score too. How far have I run? How many calories did I burn and how many calories did I eat? We will even go as far as to track our sleep pattern and use medical wearable devices to measure our blood pressure.
The tracking and logging of health data by patients can be of great advantage to hospitals. Wouldn’t it be great if patients could hand over crucial information before their appointment? Think about the time and money that gets saved by patients taking care of this part of the care process.
Patient-generated healthcare data is not just valuable to the patient and hospital. But to the whole community as well. All this data can be used to locate trends and predict and prevent health issues in specific regions and countries.
Patient engagement is not just of great use for the patient or hospital, but for everyone around them!
We have already established that knowledge is a great part of patient engagement. Would you feel comfortable making an important life changing decision if you didn’t know all the pros and cons? It would make you feel unsure and not as committed as you would like to be.
Patients are the same way. Knowing what you are deciding for or against helps you commit to your decision. Patient education is a large part of patient engagement. Educational content can inform patients about their condition, their options and their treatment.
Great patient education is engaging and will support patients in all stages of their care process. From information about their health condition to exercises and tips to support fast recovery.