Positive patient experience is an important factor in healthcare delivery and services. If you’re in the healthcare business, it can make or break your company’s ability to attract and retain customers. In healthcare organizations, it helps to create trust between the patient and the provider, which can significantly influence the treatment process and outcome, including the patient’s adherence to their prescribed treatment and the continuity of care.
By enhancing patient engagement, it becomes easier to assess problems and provide more specific care, which helps to improve their experience significantly.
What’s Patient Engagement?
For any organization, it takes more time, dedication, and effort to win a new customer than it does to retain them, and healthcare facilities are no exemption. Patient engagement facilitates constant communication and interaction, which helps healthcare providers understand patients better, including their needs and preferences as the recipient of care, especially when undergoing treatment in a healthcare facility.
When engagement is encouraged, patients become more actively involved in their treatment, which instills a sense of responsibility that’ll help them take better care of their health even after their treatment is completed.
The Best Practices In Patient Engagement
Whether you’re providing healthcare for business or as a part of your profession, adding emphasis on patient engagement will always help you achieve positive results.
Here are the best practices you can incorporate in your healthcare delivery service to encourage patient engagement throughout the process:
Enhancing Convenience And Accessibility
Patients’ ease of access to your facility and services should not be difficult. After all, how can you render your services if patients won’t even be able to reach you in the first place?
From your contact channels to your facilities, access should be easy and convenient for patients as much as possible to encourage them to come to you.
Your contact channels should be responsive enough to answer inquiries as they come. Imagine how patients will react when they want to contact you only to find that you’re unreachable or you take days to respond. If you’re in business, that’s a potential client lost just because you weren’t accessible when they needed you.
Booking appointments should also be convenient. The good thing is now there are patient engagement software programs available like Relatient, which healthcare facilities can use to automate their process. These modern platforms will allow patients to conveniently schedule their appointment online, check updates on their laboratory tests, make payments, and even chat with their primary care provider right from the comfort of their homes.
Creating The Ideal Environment
The next step to encouraging patient engagement is creating a welcoming environment. If your facility can accommodate it, create more space with inviting décor and bright lighting. Adding displays that show your expertise will also make patients feel they’re in the right place. Make sure you have strategically placed stations with friendly and approachable staff that can attend to incoming patients anytime.
You can also use digital health technology that can provide both information and educational entertainment to patients while they’re waiting for their turn.
If you can create a safe, comfortable, clean, and inviting environment for your patients, they’ll be more at ease and more open to talking to you.
Equal Treatment And Accommodation
One of the biggest mistakes you can do that’ll discourage patients completely is to show discrimination and unequal treatment, even unintentionally. If you have to prioritize one patient over another, which happens in healthcare as more urgent cases have to be attended to, make sure to properly explain to the other patient why they may have to wait longer.
Implementing a system that will help your staff organize the admission process for patients from admission to discharge will also create a standard where protocols must be followed, which will avoid unequal treatment. If there are staff who may be suspected and subsequently proven to have treated patients improperly, see to it that they’ll be retrained and penalized, if not sanctioned, so the rest of your staff will see that such actions aren’t tolerated and shouldn’t be emulated.
Empathy, or the ability to understand and feel what another person is experiencing, is deeply valued in the healthcare profession. Because care is crucial in any medical treatment process, being empathic to patients and their situation is key to creating treatment plans with the patient’s best interest in mind.
Moreover, when you’re empathic, respect easily follows, which is important if you want your patients to trust you and your services.
Encouraging Engagement Beyond The Facility
When a patient steps out of your facility, their experience and treatment process don’t necessarily end there. If you have patients that require follow-up visits, providing reasonable means to facilitate continuous communication beyond your facility will be very helpful for both parties.
You can advise patients to contact you directly if they have questions after their visit, which will also help to make sure that they’re following your instructions and adhering to their treatment plan.
If your facility or business uses social media platforms, it’s an excellent way to engage with your previous or current patients and potential patients. A lot of people virtually hang out on social media all day, and social media engagements are a fun and convenient way to interact with people, especially for businesses that can use the exposure. Speaking of which, you can also use social media to create an opportunity to talk about the services you’re offering in your healthcare facility, which should encourage more engagement.
So, if you haven’t started yet, consider launching a social media initiative where you can interact with your patients virtually, and find out how you contribute to their positive experiences in the healthcare setting.
When emphasized as a part of the standard process in healthcare, patient engagement will help providers improve their services in all aspects. Although saying ‘communication is key’ can be a cliché, it’ll always ring true for any profession, especially on the ones that involve care from the service provider.
By incorporating these best practices into your healthcare services, your business and profession will not only benefit from them, but your patients will also have a positive experience that they can speak about for as long as they live.