Healthcare is becoming more social than ever. We are on the cusp of a social health revolution that will change traditional healthcare practices forever.
The key to these changes is a shift to a more patient-centered, value-based healthcare system. With the introduction of meaningful use standards, adoption of EHRs, and a push for interoperability, healthcare providers are now able to better track, analyze, and proactively treat patients and engage them in their care. Physician and patient engagement is only becoming more important as we look to the future of the industry.
It’s not that this wasn’t happening before. In fact, insurance providers have been offering incentives to their beneficiaries for healthy lifestyle choices. Some insurance providers have even embraced social networking to reach beneficiaries and engage them in their health.
Why then have providers been slower to adopt these same strategies? Especially when they’re the major players in their patient’s care.
Provider and patient engagement has been a slow uphill climb primarily due to the volume-based reimbursement models that have comprised our healthcare systems up until this point, as well as a lack of resources and bandwith to support patients’ growing needs. Fortunately, this is being remedied.
Whether you agree with provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act, or standards of meaningful use, it cannot be denied that at least one mission has been accomplished so far—the overwhelming adoption of EHR systems by the majority of our nation’s healthcare providers. This sweeping technological shift is putting the health IT industry on the path towards interoperability, which in turn is helping providers treat their patients more effectively.
Healthcare is still years away from being truly interoperable, but at least the foundation has been laid for providers to begin down a more productive course of patient engagement. While we wait it out, here are some ways that patient engagement can be achieved right now through your EHR and accompanying technology.
1. Proactive treatment
While advances are still on their way, physicians have the ability to start being more proactive in treatment today. Tracking and analyzing patient data to determine high-risk patients is possible through your EHR system. Identifying these patients allows providers to reach out to them if they see something that warrants attention, such as a missed appointment for an acute condition.
The future of interoperability in healthcare will only continue to improve this process and encourage a stronger physician-patient relationship.
2. Providers can “prescribe” health technology to patients
The increasing focus on healthcare IT is a huge win for physicians. They can now start getting their patients more involved in their own healthcare by “prescribing” them with certain apps that help with things like medication management, educational resources, and tracking healthy lifestyle activities. Huge tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung are starting to move into the health IT space, increasing competition and the availability of health-related apps. Apple rolled out Apple Health this year with their latest software update. The app gives users the ability to track key health metrics like sleep, exercise, eating, medications, etc.
3. Encourage patients to participate in patient portals
What started out as a standard for meaningful use has proven to be a key tool for advocating patient engagement. Providers that encourage their patients to become more involved in their health by logging into their patient portals and tracking their lab results, vitals, physical results, etc., will see patients that are more informed. Ultimately, the idea here is that patients will take more control of their own health if they are able to easily access their important health information. Physicians can also use these tools to communicate with patients and give suggestions and recommend next steps in their treatment course.
Patients who are engaged are also retained. Providers will keep a strong base of loyal patients if they are actively using ways to engage with them. Patient retention and patient engagement are two issues that will continue to come up as we move forward into the healthcare IT landscape, so it will be wise to keep this in the forefront of your mind.
In the meantime, other ways of engaging patients and helping to retain them include more proactive payment collection strategies. As the industry only becomes more complicated, it will become increasingly important to simplify office administration duties to accommodate changes.
Learn more about credit card on file as one of the key patient collection strategies by clicking on the book below.