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Providers Must Engage Themselves, If They Want To Engage Patients

There is a lot of talk these days about patient engagement, but what does that mean when it comes to value-based purchasing? According to the National Business Coalition on Health, value-based purchasing is “a demand-side strategy to measure, report, and reward excellence in healthcare delivery.”

The Coalition notes healthcare providers who are successful at engaging patients will be rewarded with improved reputations, increased market share, and higher reimbursements. All of these are important in today’s risk-based and extremely competitive market because, in today’s environment, patients aren’t a given. And neither is reimbursement. Patient’s shop for care and payers pay for happier, healthier patients, with care that costs less. This new payment reality has upped the need for physicians and hospitals to pay close attention to patient satisfaction.

Providers who fail to think outside the box for ways to use new care methods, improve communication, and implement new technology to engage patients will undoubtedly be left behind. Value-based care requires an actively engaged provider — one who applies every winning strategy to achieving the requirements of value-based care.

According to athenahealth, healthcare organizations that want to build a successful patient engagement program should follow these five steps:

  1. define their vision for patient engagement
  2. create a culture of engagement
  3. employ the right technology and services
  4. empower patients to become collaborators in their care
  5. chart progress and be ready to change and adapt

All these points are centered around better communication between the provider and the patient, even to the point where the patient starts to update the care providers and track their own care. This is no easy feat, especially when the hospital is not the most fun place to go.

Contact centers can play an important role in helping to the relationship get to the point of positive, proactive, collaborative care. Patients are first and foremost shoppers, and they shop for healthcare the same way they shop for any other service they need: online. According to an article in USA Today, one in four patients used online ratings to select a physician in 2014. That trend has only been rising. Be transparent, relevant, and easy to access.

Just like other industries, customer satisfaction is derived from interaction with other humans. A contact center provides the first point of contact for new patients, and a continuing connection with ongoing patients. This is an entry point to care that should not be overlooked. Technology mixed with human compassion at this level can go a long way toward engaging patients, improving their healthcare outcomes, and helping them maintain their health.

Enghouse SfB Healthcare from Enghouse Interactive on Vimeo.

Connecting the provider’s app to the contact center is a great step forward. Why? Because through this connection, a contact center nurse/agent will know who is calling in before they answer and have the EHR screen-pop display the patient records, which can easily be translated to a warm welcome by name and anticipation for the patient’s need. This is a stark contrast to climbing through a tree of menus, then explaining your situation, then be transferred to a different department, only to explain yourself all over again. And that’s on a good day!

It’s essential providers seek out new technology and its accompanying analytics to help solve the complexities of value-based care. Without this innovation, providers won’t be able to meet the ever growing expectations of today’s consumer-like patients.

Healthcare providers face different challenges in different settings, but despite the location — be it a small rural hospital or a large, top-ranked teaching institution — the formula is the same: communication technology is helping to achieve value-based care and with it, patient engagement.

Johns Hopkins Hospital recently implemented a “NASA-like command center” to evaluate care in real-time, according to John Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Camden Group. “From here — the first predictive patient-experience control center — the staff is running their hospital with the help of a new source: predictive analytics,” Flannery says.

Just in case you don’t have the resources for a NASA-like command center, small changes can make a big difference as well. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center upgraded its IVR solution with Enghouse Interactive and cut their call wait times from 27 minutes to less than 2 minutes and reduced their dropped calls from 50 percent to under 4 percent.

Patient engagement is more important than ever as providing a caring communication environment can keep patients attending your care network. And recently more important, it is affecting reimbursements and readmission rates which impact provider revenue. There is a great saying, “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less!” Whether you’re making small changes for large gains, or large changes which change the game itself, make sure you’re doing something to improve your patient engagement.

Published in Healthcare