By Rick Halton, Vice President of Marketing, Lumeon
As healthcare begins to adopt digital consumer models, there’s ongoing discussion about increasing patient engagement, yet a misunderstanding about what that truly means. Leadership teams at many health systems are realizing that they have yet to embrace authentic patient engagement, but in many cases, don’t recognize that they lack the necessary tools and expertise to drive truly meaningful patient interactions.
It’s common practice in healthcare to conflate patient engagement with patient experience; to think of patient experience as something that only happens inside the institution, applicable once the patient arrives and ceasing when the patient leaves. However, patient experience is also an emotional experience – it is the cumulative perception resulting from dozens of interactions, instructions, conversations, and motivations a patient receives throughout an episode of care, visit, or procedure.
Much discussion about patient engagement focuses on two-way messaging or notifications, but doesn’t consider other factors that influence the patient’s broader experience.
True Patient Engagement
In reality, patient engagement should start well before patients enter the facility and continue long after they leave to recover. Meaningful engagement requires digital tools that account for the entire care journey and connect teams with the goal of more seamlessly coordinating care. It requires communication capabilities that allow providers to easily keep in touch with patients, their family members or caregivers, and other providers. And more than anything, it requires a deep patient context that constantly adapts the care journey to changing risks, progress, preferences, and compliance. Simple notifications and messaging only scratch the surface and are no longer adequate, nor do they meet increasingly savvy patient expectations.
With an almost obsessive focus on EHRs, healthcare institution leaders often believe they are modernizing their patient engagement capabilities when really they are only updating their documentation capacity. Without instituting orchestration and taking ownership of the entire care process, health systems will quickly become overwhelmed when patient demands go unsatisfied by lackluster engagement efforts.
Progressive healthcare organizations that wish to lead the way in delivering an exceptional patient experience should consider these five key steps to build on existing efforts and investments:
1 – Think of engagement more broadly: from first contact to full recovery, and beyond
Empowered patients who now approach care as consumers require much higher levels of provider interaction. However, the healthcare industry lacks an operational platform to better manage patient flows and respond to new, higher volumes of patient-initiated contact. The solution, then, is to provide an automated digital care plan that connects patients with providers along their entire care journey, from the first contact and through recovery. Beyond this, providers can leverage engagement through campaigns that remind patients to come back for health checks, periodically screen them for health risks, or provide education and advice.
2 – Take a platform approach that scales with your needs
Lumeon makes deep and relevant engagement with patients a reality through Care Journey Orchestration via an engine that transforms fragmented, manual processes into connected, personalized digital care experiences. With orchestration, patients are automatically guided online throughout their entire journey – from booking, to risk assessment, payer forms, education, and reminders, to outcome tracking and recall.
3 – Ensure engagement is in sync with your patient data
By taking real-time data from disparate systems and aligning it with the patient’s care journey, Lumeon delivers what doctors have longed to achieve. Ensuring that every patient follows the right protocol at the right time and intervening to prevent problems before they get worse or lead to complications.
4 – Automate and personalize engagement
Automation is fundamentally changing the way we deliver the digital care experience. It reduces appointment no-shows, facilitates appointment rebooking, helps monitor high-risk patients, tailors care to preferences, prepares patients prior to appointments, and follows up with them afterward.
5 – Use engagement to ‘fast-track’ healthy patients
By deploying a care journey orchestration engine, health systems can quickly move from basic notifications and messaging to offering longitudinal, thoughtful experiences with deep care process personalization and automation. Think of this engine as the digital glue that weaves together patient experiences. Best of all, it works with existing EHRs and other technology investments, and getting started is easy. Start by first deploying single elements of the experience, and later join them together as more complex sequences, eventually connecting entire care journeys – start, middle, and end. From there, the impact of the care journey can be monitored and measured, and through adjustments to the orchestration engine, experience and outcomes can be improved.