Does U.S. Health Care Need Patient Engagement?
With health care expenses in the U.S. are increasing with every passing day, the providers are always challenged to find improved ways to reduce costs, without compromising on patient safety, healthcare outcomes and quality of care. US healthcare providers can increase efficiency and reduce costs by engaging patients more proactively.
Engaging the patients to take care of their healthcare is a practical approach adopted by most healthcare providers these days to meet this challenge. Studies have shown that a more informed and engaged patient is more at ease to utilize the preventive care services, comply with the prescribed care plans and access the most beneficial care settings. These, without doubt, will lead to improved outcomes at reduced costs.
Here are some ways with which providers can engage the patients more proactively -
Sending newsletters and email alerts
A report by Pew Research Center has shown that about 92% of the adults use emails when online and 61% use email on a day-to-day basis. In another study by Nielsen Norman Group, 90% of users showed their preference towards receiving company updates on email. Email newsletters containing diverse information such as hospital updates, patient surveys, information regarding pertinent medical issues, etc can help to spread patient awareness and engagement.
1. Use of Social Media
Hospitals can use blog posts, infographics, patient surveys or videos to drive patient education. We have already seen a recent trend, where healthcare startups use apps (such as Facebook messenger) extensively to answer health-related queries.
2. Use of Education Materials and Videos
CISCO predicted in 2014 that video content will dominate about 80% of internet traffic by the end of 2019. YouTube videos can be used by providers to drive patient engagement. Such videos can incredibly enhance patients' understanding of medical topics and terms. Sustained use of such videos can teach the patients to take care of their health in whatever small way as possible.
According to a Manhattan research conducted in 2014, 20% of the physicians used telemedicine to remotely monitor their patients at some point in time or other. Online chat services and streaming web cameras are used by doctors these days to communicate with their patients from any location in the world, in a moment’s notice. Healthcare providers and hospitals can use the means of telemedicine to answer patients’ queries, exchange feedback related to a recent visit to the hospitals or even to track the outcome/progress of any treatment. Thus, an intimate understanding of acute needs of the patients can be obtained, without establishing an in-person interview with them.
4. Our Take on It
As of now, it is observed that in spite of its vast potential as a powerful mode of communication, the use of digital communication channels has mostly been under-utilized in the U.S. healthcare sector. The in-person interaction was and will remain central to the patient-provider relationship; but, the result-oriented approach of this modern age necessitates more consistent and frequent exchange of communication between the two. The same can only be achieved to its full potential, by leveraging the efficient yet cost-effective ways provided by a multi-channel strategy of digital communication.
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