5 Patient Engagement Strategies

Boost provider quality and foster strong patient relations with our top 5 healthcare patient engagement tips.

In healthcare, medicine is just one part of the equation. For a holistic and satisfactory experience, your patients need to feel involved in their own medical journey—enter patient engagement.

Patient engagement covers all the ways to encourage patient participation in their own healthcare, including in diagnostic, treatment option, and medication options. By increasing patient engagement, healthcare providers can improve:

  • Treatment quality and safety
  • Patient retention
  • New patient intakes
  • Financial performance
  • Facility reviews and patient satisfaction
  • Employee satisfaction

Are you wondering how to help your patients feel in control of their health? Let’s dive into the top successful patient engagement strategies for modern healthcare providers.

#1 Increase External Communications

What happens outside the doctor’s office matters just as much as what happens inside. To increase patient trust and knowledge, healthcare providers should attempt to contact patients as much as possible about their treatment. 

The more patients are kept in the loop, the more likely they’ll experience safe, satisfactory, and necessary healthcare. Without adequate communication, research shows that a healthcare provider may experience:

  • Patient discontinuation
  • Lower patient safety
  • Resource inefficiency
  • Lower satisfaction among employees and patients
  • Worse financial outcomes

Today, healthcare facilities can contact patients via telephone and online channels. Whether using in-house systems or outsourced call center professionals like Nexa, let’s explore the top communication methods to engage patients.

Phone Calls

Even in our digital world, a human voice still matters. Patients are increasingly using online communication methods, but the majority still prefer person-to-person phone calls. 

Phone calls, in many situations, are still an effective patient engagement strategy. Consider utilizing voice-to-voice communication for these specific situations to increase patient engagement: 

  • Older patients – On average, patients ranked phone calls as the preferred method of healthcare communication—that’s especially true for older patients, who far prefer it to younger patients. Over 60% of patients 54 years or older prefer scheduling appointments via phone, likely due to digital literacy challenges and limited access.
  • Follow-up care – No matter the procedure or treatment, follow-up care is crucial to patient satisfaction and safety, and phone calls are one of the most successful ways to do it. Patients who received a follow-up phone call after discharge were 50% less likely to return to the ER.
  • Appointments – You might think online scheduling would attract more patients, and it certainly appeals to many. However, many patients still want to hear a real human voice when scheduling visits. About 84% of medical visits are scheduled over the phone.
  • Extensive or major information – Sometimes, healthcare involves life-changing events. New diagnoses, complicated health threats, and other major news should come with a personal touch. To make a patient feel involved and respected, inform them of these critical updates via phone.

Big or small, every healthcare facility juggles multiple tasks. Sometimes, you might need extra assistance to successfully handle phone operations and give each patient the care and attention they deserve. Outsourced call centers like Nexa can significantly boost customer experience and facility success with benefits like:

  • 24/7 phone agent access
  • Outbound and inbound calls
  • Increased call capacity 
  • More efficient response and handling times

Digital Communications

Wondering how to improve communication with patients? From social media to finances, digital communication plays a role in almost every part of life—healthcare is no exception. 

What is digital communication? Essentially, it covers any form of online back-and-forth, from video calls to texts and live chats. As younger patients begin to overtake healthcare systems, the need for digital communication only grows. Almost half of the patients already use digital means to communicate with their providers, and 60% are comfortable doing so. 

New to online chats? Let’s breakdown the top digital communications for healthcare facilities for a successful patient engagement:

  • Email – Out of all online channels, patients view email as the most “professional” and necessary. One survey found 69% of patients prefer facilities that use secured emails. And for patient contact, about one quarter of patients select email as their first-choice method. Even better? Email is an amazing marketing tool for healthcare. Engage new patients by sending newsletters and email campaigns, which can have open rates as high as 60%.
  • Text – A newer option, text messages are increasingly popular for healthcare services. Short and quick, texts can efficiently handle outbound patient contact (appointment reminder, confirmations, follow-up links, and more). About 73% of patients prefer a provider that offers text messaging, being twice as likely to respond to texts than to phone calls.
  • Live chats – Confused about prescription refills? Stressed with at-home health care questions? Live online chats can address immediate patient needs quickly and securely. Since most facilities don’t have dedicated staff to handle live chats, a virtual call center like Nexa can connect patients to live agents (not a frustrating chatbot).

#2 Simplify Patient Scheduling

Most healthcare facilities live by their calendar. Both providers and patients need an accurate and distributed schedule.

The solution? Engaging patients in scheduling.

Missed appointments can create losses of up to 14% of provider revenue. The more communication gaps you leave with patients, the more likely they’ll miss their appointment. Upgrade your calendar and tighten losses by incorporating scheduling tools that engage the patient, such as:

  • Self-scheduling – Phone calls might be the most-used method of scheduling healthcare visits, but according to one survey, 69% of patients reported preferring providers who allow patients to book, reschedule, and cancel appointments online.
  • Online registration and forms – Similar to self-scheduling, 81% of surveyed patients would prefer to complete all check-in forms online. This shift could significantly reduce wait times and workload for healthcare administrators.
  • Appointment reminders – Patients don’t just want appointment reminders—they expect them. Over 57% of patients expect providers to provide an appointment reminder via phone, text, or email. 
  • Integrated CRM and EHR software – Digital records are crucial for modern healthcare facilities. To keep tabs on patient needs, providers should use scheduling systems that integrate with their Customer Relation Management and Electronic Health Record software. Luckily, Nexa’s customer experience teams can integrate with most CRM and EHR systems for a seamless experience.

#3 Utilize Patient Portals 

More than ever, patients want to simplify their healthcare. No paper files, no missed bills, just one easy channel to store their information. Fortunately, patient portals can do the job.

An online patient engagement platform helps both patients and providers easily locate and update an individual's healthcare information. Part digital file and part communication platform, online portals store patient information and tools like:

  • Demographics (age, sex, height, etc.)
  • Medical history and records
  • Appointment schedule and history
  • Bill payments
  • Health insurance information 
  • Prescriptions
  • Online pre-visit forms
  • Test and lab results
  • Provider messaging
  • Patient care team

By placing all information into one accessible spot, portals help patients feel in touch with their healthcare plan. While 60% of healthcare facilities use online portals, the facilities that encouraged portal use had higher patient use rates. To increase use, consider sending patients a quick reminder before and after appointments to check their portals.

#4 Offer Patient Education

The bonds between patient and provider are essential, especially in empowering engaged patients. In helping them feel connected and committed to their health, education can make all the difference.

Patients that feel disengaged are twice as likely to delay medical care and three times as likely to leave medical needs untreated. However, patient education can reverse the disconnect. One study found that 17% more patients complied with treatment plans after receiving educational materials. Additionally, the Wellbox Care Management plan found that patient education helped produce better outcomes like:

  • 66% decrease in hospitalizations
  • 50% increase in preventative care
  • 90% patient satisfaction rate
  • Increased flu shots and vaccinations

Not sure where to start educating patients? Simple yet informative materials can do the trick. Start by passing along relevant healthcare content to patients via accessible mediums like:

  • In-person conversations
  • Written instruction
  • Brochures
  • Workshops
  • Patient teach-backs
  • Infographics
  • Social media accounts 

#5 Gather & Analyze Patient Reviews

The number one way to make patients feel heard? Gathering, then implementing their feedback. 

Whether via email or text, a patient satisfaction survey can be the golden key to a better healthcare experience. Not only does patient feedback help improve provider care, but they also create positive impacts like:

  • Higher patient satisfaction
  • Faster medical resolution 
  • Lower return rates and readmissions
  • Increased post-op care adherence

With patient feedback, timing is crucial. Research shows that providers should send satisfaction surveys the same day as doctor appointments or the day after hospital visits. While texting is the most successful method, letting patients choose their preferred method of communication can also improve feedback responses.

Engage and Connect with Patients, Thanks to Nexa

For healthcare providers, every moment is an opportunity to connect with their patients. The more you encourage patient participation, the better your treatment and the happier their experience. Start with these engagement tactics to build your strongest patient-provider connection yet.

Not sure where to begin? Maintaining patient satisfaction and communications starts with professional call centers like Nexa. We have virtual receptionists specially trained in healthcare to better address the unique needs of hospitals, private practices, and medical administrators.

With 24/7 live agents, online chats, and scheduling software integration, Nexa is built to improve provider-patient relations. Just select the plan that fits your facility, and your team is free to focus on the quality of care instead of appointment cancellations or phone queries. Our industry experts are here to help.

Sources: 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. How Patient and Family Engagement Benefits Your Hospital. https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/systems/hospital/engagingfamilies/howtogetstarted/How_PFE_Benefits_Hosp_508.pdf

CNBC. Most stressful part of doctor's visit: The wait, says survey. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/05/most-stressful-part-of-doctors-visit-the-wait-says-survey.html

DOCASAP. 9 Patient Engagement Statistics. https://docasap.com/patient-access/9-patient-engagement-stats

Health Affairs. What the Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Care Outcomes and Care Experiences; Fewer Data on Costs. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2012.1061?journalCode=hlthaff

Health IT. Individuals’ Access and Use of Patient Portals and Smartphone Health Apps, 2020. https://www.healthit.gov/data/data-briefs/individuals-access-and-use-patient-portals-and-smartphone-health-apps-2020

Intuit. Many Would Consider Switching to Doctors Who Offer Online Services. https://www.intuit.com/company/press-room/press-releases/2011/IntuitHealthSurveyAmericansWorriedAboutCostsWantGreaterAccesstoPhysicians/

PatientPop. 30 statistics about patient experience for Patient Experience Week. https://www.patientpop.com/blog/patient-experience-stats/

Paubox. Why email is better than patient portals. https://www.paubox.com/blog/email-better-patient-portals/

Sequence Health. Five Patient Engagement Statistics You Can’t Afford to Ignore. https://www.sequencehealth.com/blog/five-patient-engagement-statistics-you-cant-afford-to-ignore

Solution Reach. 10 Stats That Show Us Why Text Is Next with Patients. https://www.solutionreach.com/blog/10-stats-that-show-us-why-text-is-next-with-patients

Technology Advice. Study: How Patients Want to Communicate with Their Physician. https://technologyadvice.com/blog/healthcare/study-patient-portal-communication-2014/

WellApp. Healthcare Providers Ought to Deliver Patient Satisfaction Survey Through Text. https://wellapp.com/blog/patient-satisfaction-survey/

WellBox. 5 Essential Patient Engagement Strategies to Drive Better Outcomes https://wellbox.care/patient-engagement-strategies-better-outcomes/

Wiley Online Library. Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ijcp.12686

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