What is Patient Engagement in Healthcare and Why is it Important?

Patient engagement is changing. It’s no longer only about how providers and health systems interact with patients from their first appointment to discharge, but rather about how they are kept actively engaged in the broader ongoing patient journey. This includes keeping patients engaged in between clinical interactions, a fact reinforced with 74% of adults telling us they want to continue interactions with their healthcare provider between appointments.

Improving patient engagement among these heightened expectations is pushing providers and health systems to innovative and adopt new technology to connect with and support patients well beyond the four walls of a clinical setting.

What is patient engagement?

Patient engagement refers to the interactions a person has with a provider or health system and the actions taken as a result. Simply said, it’s teamwork! When a provider and health system work together with a patient—by sharing information, communicating, making shared health decisions—the more engaged they are likely to be and the more likely they will take advantage of available services.

Let’s take an expecting mom for example. To keep her engaged and supported, a more modern health system would be texting reminders for prenatal check-ups, emailing information about folic acid, calling to offer car seat fittings, and celebrating milestones with her along the way. This will create a deeper relationship and promote healthy actions that contribute to a more successful delivery and outcomes.

Why is patient engagement in healthcare important?

Patient engagement in healthcare is an important factor because the more actively engaged a patient is in managing their health, the more likely they will be to take important healthy actions like booking a preventive screening or taking a routine medication to keep a chronic condition in check. When this occurs, they see improved health outcomes—a win for everyone involved.  

Bonus: when patients have a good, personalized experience, they are likely to stick around and return for future care. Creating experiences that make patients feel more connected and supported today are sure to drive additional downstream patient volume and revenues.

What do patients expect from their providers?

There have been several big shifts in patient expectations over the past few years: a personalized patient experience, holistic support, and convenient access to care and services.

  • A personalized patient experience is possible with the help of data and informatics tools that make it easy to capture and quickly access insights about things like social determinants of health (SDOH) that make up each person’s unique patient experience. With this level of information, providers can go beyond the present and predict future health risks, offering them tools and resources to get ahead of and possibly prevent future health issues.
  • Holistic support can be addressed by communicating and offering access to programs and resources outside of traditional clinical needs, like access to financial support, literacy tools, or transportation assistance.
  • Patients also have more options with retail clinics and virtual care. Providers and health systems need to promote the convenience and value that they can offer well beyond episodic care.

How can you build patient engagement strategies that work?

Today’s patient engagement strategies need to be personal and coordinated, they need to break through the noise and be heard. To effectively engage patients today, strategies need to:  

  • Provide access to enhanced consumer data and predictive analytics to help you get ahead of patient needs and expectations.
  • Make it easy for you to leverage multi-channel, multi-cycle communications tools to coordinate outreach and get your messages about relevant resources and services heard.
  • Include measurement tools to see if your strategies are making a difference – from measuring campaign reach to true ROI.

Engaging patients in healthcare is more important than ever before, but it is possible to move the needle with the right tools. Welltok, a Virgin Pulse company, offers multiple tools to help you personalize and conduct targeted outreach that will drive higher patient engagement and boost health outcomes. Interested in learning more? Let’s talk!

Want to learn more? Let's talk!