The terms “patient journey” and “patient engagement” have become popular in the health care industry recently. And there’s a good reason for this. Many patients have a standard process they follow when interacting with the health care industry, and this experience throughout that process has an impact on their health and well-being. Particularly, it has been noted that patients who are more engaged in their health care journey have better health outcomes than less engaged patients. This article will review the patient journey and provide tips on how to engage patients throughout.
What is the Patient Journey?
The term “patient journey” describes the series of events a patient experiences as they receive care from a given provider or organization. This journey starts when the patient seeks care, but it doesn’t just end with the final invoice payment. To keep patients connected to providers in-between visits, health care professionals can utilize solutions such as remote patient monitoring or other technologies to facilitate virtual encounters.
All parts of the health care system, including anyone who has an impact on the patient, are involved in the patient journey. As such, they each have a responsibility to engage with the patient and make their experience a pleasant one.
Engaging Patients Throughout Their Journey
To increase engagement throughout the course of the patient journey, practitioners should consider implementing the following solutions into their practice:
- Online Scheduling: Convenience is incredibly important to today’s patients. Finding the time to make a phone call and potentially wait on hold might not fit into their schedule. By offering online scheduling, practitioners can allow patients to easily schedule appointments when they have the time – day or night. For best results, it is recommended to choose a solution that includes prompts to determine the necessary appointment type so that the patient gets exactly what is needed, and a practice’s schedule stays organized.
- Digital Intake: The more efficient a patient’s experience is, the better. Utilizing digital intake reduces the patient’s wait time in-office, while also allowing a practitioner to receive more accurate, thorough information. This eases the pressure on patients to remember their health history while sitting in a waiting room, holding a clipboard. Not to mention, by choosing a solution that integrates directly with a practice’s electronic medical records, providers can save staff the hassle of manually inputting data or scanning forms into the system.
- Telehealth: A strong, established relationship between patient and provider is integral to patient engagement. Convenient care options are essential to creating and maintaining that strong relationship. This is where telehealth comes in. Depending on the solution a practice utilizes, many types of appointments can be performed virtually, helping to increase convenience for patients as well as efficiency for providers, while also helping enhance infection control.
- Mobile Payments: By utilizing mobile payments, practitioners give patients the ability to quickly and easily pay off an outstanding balance, keeping them happy as a result. It also allows a practice to receive payments more quickly than through other methods.
- Patient Satisfaction Surveys: Other than convenience, one of the most important things patients want from their experience in health care is to feel heard. Using patient satisfaction surveys demonstrates that a practice cares about its patients’ opinions, and wants to make the experience even better. That kind of investment in improvement is invaluable to patients and a great way to keep them engaged.
Maintaining patient involvement throughout the patient journey is important not only to increase patient retention, but also to help improve health outcomes. It can sometimes feel intimidating to prioritize patient participation when today’s medical practices are already busy. But by implementing strategic technology, practitioners can smoothly and efficiently place an emphasis on patient engagement over the course of the journey without adding to the potential for burnout in practice staff.
It is important to work with a solutions partner that offers various technologies to help meet both patient and practice needs. For example, through Henry Schein Medical’s SolutionsHub, providers can explore clinical, operational, and financial solutions to help foster patient engagement. This includes PatientPop for patient attraction, Yosi Health for patient intake, AccessOne MobilePay for mobile payments, Medpod for telehealth, and Rimidi for remote patient monitoring of patients with chronic disease.
In order for practices to thrive in today’s environment, care delivery and business models must be patient-centric. By adopting online scheduling, digital intake, mobile payments, and patient satisfaction surveys, both providers and patients will reap the benefits.
Michael Casamassa joined Henry Schein in 2000 as Project Manager, and was promoted in 2002 to Regional Sales Manager. In 2004 Michael lead the Midwest sales team as General Manager. He became Vice President of the Medical Field Sales team in 2008 and remained the leader of this team until 2015 when he was given his current role of Vice President Medical Solutions. He is responsible for building out a comprehensive, meaningful, and relevant portfolio of solutions that empowers practices to improve in three critical areas: Clinical, Financial, and Operational. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and has a MS Secondary Education degree from Old Dominion University. Michael also served in the United States Navy from 1993 – 2000. He along with his wife Natasha and daughter Isabella reside in Austin, TX.