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3 Ways to Improve Patient Engagement and Compliance

By Anna Mueller, MS17 Jan 2022

Patient engagement and compliance keep your practice successful and your patients healthier. Keeping your patients engaged can lead to improved financial performance for your practice as well as better outcomes for them. 

Although it can seem daunting to improve patient engagement and compliance, there are avenues that can be considered that don’t require a large investment of time but that can provide considerable results.

Consider starting by setting up a cross-departmental brainstorming session to visualize the ideal future goals for your organization’s patient engagement strategy. A series of smaller targets that align with the future state can be rolled out slowly over time so that the work is not overly burdensome for existing staff. Below are some ideas to get the conversation started.

1. Consider Technology

More and more patients communicate with their providers online. In fact, many patients actually prefer using texting over other modes of communication. You can communicate via text with your patients for:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Health maintenance like scheduling a physical or exam
  • Engaging patients or their support people in compliance or support tasks

In addition to texting, Telehealth technology has been found by many healthcare providers to be an extremely effective way of maintaining and improving communication with patients.

Telehealth technology was thrust into the spotlight thanks to the pandemic, but has proven its value even after offices have loosened restrictions. It can be a useful way to engage patients who may have a long commute to your office or have difficulty finding the time to schedule an in-person appointment. Many telehealth technologies also have the ability to set up automated follow-up questions for patients that can help them stay on track and in touch with you. 

You can include links to telehealth appointment scheduling within text messages that remind patients to schedule physical exams or other procedures.

An important part of patient engagement is knowing how your existing patients view your practice. Sending a patient engagement survey via text or patient portal can provide insight into what your practice is doing well and what needs improvement.

2. Connect with Patients

Connecting with patients goes beyond interacting with them digitally. Understanding what motivates or concerns your patients can help you understand why they might have medication compliance issues or be hesitant to try a treatment or vaccine.

Patients could have fears about treatment side effects or could have issues in being able to  afford the medications or supplies they need to stay healthy. Engaging all clinical staff in a planned effort to take an extra few minutes per patient to communicate individually about their care and their concerns can improve patient engagement significantly.

Building this type of patient-centric communication into your plan as well as methods of following up with the patient’s care team to work on solutions is an integral part of any patient engagement strategy.   

3. Ensure Understanding

A common cause of noncompliance among patients is simple misunderstanding. This can range from misunderstandings about medication dosages or when to take medications, to lack of understanding about wound care or surgical site care as well as many other areas.

To remedy this, ensure a patient understands what they need to do to remain healthy before they leave their appointment. Ask them to repeat the instructions back to you and allow time for patient questions. Make sure that instructions are clearly written in layman’s terms on discharge or patient visit summaries.

Medication noncompliance can be a cause of disease progression and poor disease management, according to one study. Many factors influence whether a patient is compliant with medication including:

  • The lack of knowledge about the medication and the need for it
  • Poor family support
  • Financial concerns
  • Forgetfulness

 

Whether you need to ensure your patient is compliant with their care protocols or remind them of an upcoming appointment, patient engagement should be a planned and coordinated strategy at your organization.

Utilizing technology and understanding your patients’ needs and concerns is a vital part of this strategy because it can help you better engage your patients and help keep them healthy. 

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