Digital Communication Channels to Engage Patients In Healthcare
Electronic Health Records or EHRs have been able to impact the US healthcare system a big way of late, with its meaningful and useful patient interface, powered by big data analytics.
One of the most important contributions of EHRs is the advent of patient portals which have the power to engage patients in matters related to their healthcare. Studies have emphasized the fact that a better engaged and informed patient is more equipped to exploit the advantages of the prescribed care plans, avail the preventive care and access multi-level care settings. This will make things easier for the healthcare providers and will allow them to incur fewer expenses on their endeavor to achieve their twin goals- to increase operational efficiency and reduce expenditure.
4 ways how providers can ensure patients’ engagement with the effective use of digital communication channels –
1. Using text messages
As per a 2014 poll by Gallup.com, it has been revealed that text messaging is the primary mode of conversation for most of the Americans below the age of 50.
Most hospitals are already using secure text messaging as an effective means to reach up to their patients. As a part of such plan, providers can check the patients’ status, conduct polls/feedback sessions or may ask simple medical questions through a secure text messaging platform.
A carefully designed test message system can deliver instructions, quality education, and medical alerts accurately to the patient, at the most relevant moment. Also, providing hyperlinks with such messages can connect the patient to the larger information gateway of the web where he can access a whole lot of information including educational videos, patient portals, and instruction guides.
2. Use of email alerts
A Nielsen Norman research has shown that 90 % of the Americans prefer receiving updates on email. Healthcare providers can send email alerts to patients to deliver new information available on their portal, along with a relevant link. Diverse information on patient surveys, hospital updates, and relevant medical issues can also be shared on emails to enhance awareness of the patients.
3. Use of Social Media
It is a widely accepted fact that about two-thirds of American adults use networking sites pretty regularly. With the implementation of an effective social media strategy, the providers can enhance the engagement of the patients. Similarly, hospitals can use blog posts, videos, info-graphics, patient surveys, etc to drive patient awareness and maintain fruitful relationships with the patients.
Telemedicine is the future indeed. In addition to the sharing of health data, telemedicine also includes the evolving field of remote patient monitoring. Doctors can use web cameras and online chats to communicate with patients from any corner in the world. Different channels of telemedicine can also be used to track the progress of any recent treatment, share feedback about the last hospital visitor to answer queries of the patients. This will facilitate an accurate assessment of patients' needs, without resorting to in-person interviews.
Our take on this:
There are different ways of how a provider goes about in engaging patients. Personal interactions (both through personal visits or phone calls) are one of them, but they are resource intensive and just can't be done frequently enough to ensure a behavioral change in patients. Effective use of Technology (EHR in particular) can address both these drawbacks.
It is observed that healthcare providers are yet to tap the enormous potential of modern digital communication channels fully when it comes to patient engagement. In-person appointments remain the preferred mode of information sharing between a patient and a provider. But this is a resource-intensive approach and just can't be done frequently enough to ensure a behavioral change in patients. Effective use of Technology is the definite way ahead for better engagement of patients in U.S healthcare.