Patient Engagement: Improving Health and Decreasing Costs

Posted on March 25, 2014

 

Patients want to take a more active role in their healthcare, sometimes they just don't know how.  Improved engagement not only benefits the patient, but also can lead to increased satisfaction scores, greater quality and safety and a higher likelihood of patient compliance. Here are a few ways you can begin to improve patient engagement:

  • Create an environment for shared decision making. Involving patients in the decision making process, or making sure their voices are heard will make them feel as though they are an integral part of the hospital (which they are).
  • Develop a powerful patient portal. The world is going digital, and patients want access to their information wherever they are, 24/7. A patient portal can give them this access and improve their overall engagement in their health needs.
  • Create a strong web presence. A website can create the first impression your patients have of your facility and staff. Having useful and relevant information will frame you as a resource.
  • Generate a strong patient feedback program. Most hospitals have places for patients to give feedback. The key is what you do with that information.
  • Traditional advertising. Though some traditional advertising, like newspaper or direct mail, may seem outdated, they actually still have a strong effect on patient engagement. People want to be affiliated with a respected organization; traditional advertising can help show patients that your organization is just that.

Want to learn more? Join the Rural Healthcare Marketer on April 2 to delve deeper into this topic and see how rural hospitals across the country are leveraging their marketing efforts to engage patients and help them be an active partner in their care.

Wednesday, April 2
12 - 1 p.m. (central time)
Presented by the National Rural Health Association Partnership Services

Register now!

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Social Media and HIPAA: Can the Two Co-exist?

Posted on March 11, 2014

 

According to a Pew Internet Project (2012 survey) related to health and healthcare, 72% of U.S. Internet users searched online for health information during the past year. Think of what this could mean to your hospital if even a fraction of these consumers looked to your physicians as thought leaders in their fields!

Problem is, one five-letter acronym may keep your docs from taking advantage of social media. You guessed it: HIPAA.

While that could be the end of the story-it shouldn't be. Your CAH and its providers can use social media without breaching patient confidentiality and other HIPAA rules. One way to do this is to connect with patients collectively-rather than individually. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep it general. For example, discuss "healthcare topics in the news." Providers can share their perspectives, addressing potential benefits as well as concerns about specific procedures, medical "break-throughs," medications, etc.
  • If a consumer responds with a specific health-related question, do not answer it using social media. Direct the person offline, using a standard response to call your office and make an appointment, or if it's an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency department.
  • Include a disclaimer that directs consumers to consult with their physician and that your recommendations are not substitutes for actual medical assistance.

You might want to check out this video, "The Doctor is Online: Physician Use, Responsibility and Opportunity in the Time of Social Media." It includes insights from a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children's Hospital who blogs at 33Charts, along with several experienced physicians who are also active in social media. While it was originally developed for medical students just beginning their residency program, your CAH and docs can benefit from these quick tips and guidelines.

Be sure to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to learn more about using social media in healthcare.

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