How to Engage Patients to Improve Outcomes – and Satisfaction Scores

May. 28, 2019

“Patient engagement.” These two words have the power to make or break a rural hospital’s future. Scary thought. Or is it?

When done right, patient engagement can help:

  • Improve outcomes
  • Reduce costs for your hospital, patients and providers
  • Gain referrals
  • Retain patients
  • Increase patient satisfaction scores

Every touchpoint throughout the healthcare journey is an opportunity to effectively engage patients and prospective patients in a positive and meaningful way. Here are some must-dos for making that happen.   

Think “phone and front desk”

Your healthcare organization’s first direct interaction with patients sets the tone for what is to follow. When an interaction goes well, it’s often the start of a positive relationship. If it goes poorly, it can be difficult to recover.

What is the first impression patients get when they call to schedule an appointment? A simple phone script can help ensure a consistent, positive experience. Also consider how patients are greeted at the front desk. Have regular discussions with staff about common questions and concerns to address them professionally and efficiently.   

Cover your frontline

The Emergency Department is often the first point of interaction a patient has with a hospital. Yet these patients typically score a hospital much lower than patients who are electively admitted.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of patient engagement when providing emergent care, but here are a few simple steps that can enhance the patient experience. It all starts with clear and consistent communication to let patients know they are receiving quality and moving efficiently through the process:

  • Use a whiteboard to outline what will happen next – and when
  • If there are delays, don’t let patients jump to their own conclusions; provide regular updates
  • If a decision is made to admit the patient, explain why and what will happen next

When patients have a better understanding of what’s happening around them – and why – they feel more in control. This can reduce their fear and anxiety, and as a result they often feel more satisfied with their care. 

Engage and educate using social media

Patient education can be closely linked to patient satisfaction. And social media platforms provide an effective way to engage patients and prospective patients – and help improve people’s lives. Consider the following:

  • Healthcare brands are in the unique position to provide information that can help improve their patients’ lives. Making that information available through social media posts is one of the best ways to meet the needs of patients in the consideration phase.
  • Leveraging patients’ support networks (e.g., family, friends, and community) may help create positive, sustained behaviors for better outcomes, which can lead to greater patient loyalty. For example, your healthcare organization could offer heart-healthy recipes or sponsor community cooking classes to help influence positive nutrition choices for cardiac and other patients.

According to a recent survey conducted by Modern HealthCare and CipherHealth, more than 80% of providers say patient engagement is a high priority at their organization, but only 20% are satisfied with their current programs. 

Effective patient engagement includes proactively engaging consumers in their health and healthcare both inside and outside of the hospital and physician’s office. If you’d like some helpful insights on how Legato helped one rural hospital engage consumers to increase patient volume and growth, check out this Howard Memorial Hospital case study or call Mike Milligan, Legato President, at 920-544-8102, EXT 101.

Website by: Craig Erskine

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