Healthcare News & Insights

How hospitals can increase patient engagement

One emerging challenge hospitals must work to meet is improving patient engagement. If patients aren’t active partners in their care, they’ll face an uphill road to recovery. On the hospital side, a lack of engagement makes it difficult to meet quality measures put in place by insurers due to healthcare reform. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. 

162441463Taking a page from other healthcare organizations that have made strides toward improving patient engagement is the key to success. Here are a few ideas you can try that have been successful for other hospitals, according to U.S. News and World Report (USNWR).

Making info accessible

Giving patients access to their medical records via an electronic health record (EHR) system is becoming more common, but hospitals can go the extra mile to help patients. As detailed in the USNWR article, New York-Presbyterian Hospital has created an online portal where patients can not only see their health records, they can view discharge instructions and make follow-up appointments.

Although technology makes this process easier, it’s not required. Hospitals can designate certain staff members as care coordinators who provide patients with this info – and make sure they understand their role in their recovery before they’re discharged.  The care coordinator can also make sure all necessary follow-ups are scheduled.

Having a specific point person who patients and their families can go to with their questions and concerns can help eliminate some of the confusion that causes them to be disengaged with their care.

Working as a team

While it’s helpful to have a person in charge of care coordination, delivering care with a team-based approach is crucial to patient engagement. Hospital partnerships with providers, such as primary care physicians and mental health specialists, help ensure patients receive continuous care and can manage their conditions outside hospital walls.

Team-based care also makes it easier for hospitals to track situations that may jeopardize a patient’s recovery and put preventive measures in place to avoid them.

Another example from the USNWR article: The Visiting Nurse Service of New York worked with New York-Presbyterian and an insurance carrier to identify and manage high-risk patients during the discharge process. The extra sets of hands led to fewer errors as the patients transitioned from the hospital to their homes.

Steps to improve patient engagement

To make implementing programs like these easier on hospitals, the American Hospital Association recently released a guide for strengthening patient engagement, “A Leadership Resource for Patient and Family Engagement Strategies.”

The guide suggests five steps hospitals can take when designing programs for patient engagement:

  1. Develop a vision. Start by creating a picture of what strategies you’d like to use to get patients more engaged in their care.
  2. Determine improvement opportunities. Look for ways to improve the skill set of the healthcare pros at your hospital to accommodate your vision.
  3. Develop a plan and prioritize. Lay out the steps you need to take and the resources you need to put your plan into place. Implement changes in order of importance and feasibility.
  4. Monitor progress. Commit to measuring metrics that give you a clear idea of how the organization is progressing toward meeting goals of patient engagement.
  5. Provide ongoing support for implementation. Periodically evaluate the program you have in place, and make sure it has the resources necessary to sustain itself for the long-term.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.