Engage Patients: 16 Creative Healthcare Strategies

Hospitals can go beyond Meaningful Use requirements to make patients happier and healthier and the bottom line better. Consider these ideas.
After installing Patient Prompt, Cardiovascular Institute of the South reduced no-show appointments by 25%, said administrato
Researchers at Rollins School of Public Health and the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University evaluat
For six months, National Taiwan University Hospital provided telehealth services to 141 patients with cardiovascular diseases
Meaningful Use 2 mandates that more than 5% of patients communicate with healthcare providers via secure electronic messages.
In rural Kentucky, portals allow family members to stay engaged with older relatives' care. Patients and their families acces
When Geisinger Health Plan rolled out a telehealth program to help caseworkers support heart failure patients after they left
When Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center got its first publicly reported HCAHPS score for nurse communications in 20
Medication non-adherence is the leading cause of preventable morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs, according to the Wor
Catholic Health Partners gives its patients tablets equipped with Epic's MyChart Bedside. Patients use the app to order every
As the medical establishment encourages consumers to control more aspects of their healthcare, that control will extend to pa
St. John's Children's Hospital, part of the Hospitals Sisters Health System, equipped patient rooms with GetWellNetworks' Get
Physicians Interactive and McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions (MPRS) have teamed up to deliver Coupons on Demand to clin
In 2013, 5,000 Grove Medical patients used the internal medical practice's patient portal to communicate with providers. Many
As part of a multi-year, multi-prong patient engagement initiative, Children's Hospital created online communities where pati
Happy healthcare employees take better care of patients, resulting in healthier and happier consumers. Sadly, only 13% of emp
As the nation becomes more diverse, practices are challenged to help patients whose first language is not English. Healthcare

Healthcare professionals on a quest to improve patient engagement solely to meet Meaningful Use mandates miss an opportunity to improve consumers' health and their bottom line in lots of other ways.

In 2013, the government began penalizing hospitals based on readmission rates. Penalties and the reasons for these fines will increase over the next few years. Value-based payments encourage providers to embrace patient engagement, too.

But government regulations can go only so far. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), which includes 32 questions across nine areas of a patient's stay, standardizes consumer ratings of care. Patients respond on topics such as pain management, nurse communication, and doctor communication. Many patients are ignorant of why they're in the hospital, the reasons for their prescriptions, or underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. People with chronic conditions take, on average, only half the prescribed dose of their medications, and 50% don't follow medical advice.

When medical professionals spend more time with patients, their health improves. When a doctor tells a patient to stop smoking, for instance, the patient is 30% more likely to do so. But chronic conditions account for 75% of healthcare costs, with obesity and diabetes dominating the medical landscape. Practitioners are hard pressed to find time for more tasks.

Web and mobile technologies are removing some of those time constraints from busy practices, automating tasks while creating a personal touch that improves patients' lives. Patients feel special and appreciated when they believe that they are being saved time or money, or that the hospital makes the effort to ensure their comfort. Some hospitals have a "no ignore" rule, for example, that mandates nobody passes a room with a nurse's light lit without going in to see what the patient wants. Anybody can grab an extra blanket or ice chips, and the patient is comforted by the immediate attention.

Communication is a critical component of engagement, whether it's during a hospital stay or with healthcare providers. In fact, 82% of consumers want access to medical records, 77% wish to book appointments online, 76% prefer to renew prescriptions electronically, and 74% would like to receive appointment reminders via email or text, a 2013 Accenture study found.

As a direct result of adopting electronic communications, several healthcare providers in the study saw engagement increase. Using surveys and anecdotal evidence, practices determined patients preferred email and online access to more traditional methods of communication. In addition, no-shows decreased, so offices could reschedule other patients or spend more time with those in the office.

Though the majority of consumers want to view their records electronically, only about one-third currently track their diet, exercise, or vitals using apps or personal health monitors. As more providers explore using these tools, especially among patients with chronic conditions, that number is expected to grow, especially if they are integrated with electronic health records or dashboards for easier review.

There are many ways to engage patients that can improve their health and help your medical establishment run more smoothly, too. Click through our slideshow for tips that range from providing patients with tablets to serving bilingual consumers.

Next slide