Patients face many perils when they walk out the hospital doors, from knowing how much medication to take to knowing how to identify symptoms that could be a sign of deeper trouble.
So the key way to prevent post-visit complications and readmissions is to stay engaged with patients. A patient with diabetes shouldn’t just be thinking about lowering their blood sugar during the 10 minutes they are with their PCP — there should be an ongoing dialogue about their health.
In addition to chronic health issues, acute issues come up where technology can play a role. Becker’s Hospital Review describes this case:
“Such technology has saved lives, specifically by reinforcing the symptoms of possible complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can lead to a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Referring to information that came to him after his surgery via messaging technology, one patient was able to distinguish the pain of a DVT from the natural pain of the recovery process, prompting him to make a life-saving call and visit his doctor.
So, yes, engagement saves lives, especially electronic engagement.”
Here are more ways that patient engagement can increase patient safety and improve health outcomes.
1. Automated Engagement
Technology is providing increasing options for providers to engage with patients beyond the walls of hospitals and clinics.
Specifically, patient engagement platforms like PatientBond help to cement engagement with a patient both before and after their in-person interactions. PatientBond uses a proprietary psychographic segmentation model to group patients into five segments, each with a unique set of motivations and communication preferences.
PatientBond then uses these insights to create automated, personalized messages that will drive desired behaviors — whether it’s taking their medication or reminding them to show up to a follow-up appointment.
2. Human Engagement
Yes, the industry is moving towards automation, with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning leading the way. However, that also opens up the opportunity for more personal engagement where needed,and AI tools can help figure out the cases where human interaction is most effective and warranted.
Depending on their psychographic segment, some patients may respond well to texts or emails from their healthcare providers; others may need more of a human touch. Based on PatientBond’s recent market research survey, Self Achievers and Priority Jugglers are statistically more likely to use AI tools to manage their health whereas Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers need a more human touch.
A smile, a hug or a comforting voice on the end of the phone, calling to check in at a person's darkest moments, may go a long way with such patients. There will always be a need for this kind of human engagement and a platform like PatientBond can help free up resources for these personal interactions by automating others.
3. Preventive Engagement
Some psychographic segments — Self Achievers, Balance Seekers and Priority Jugglers — are more likely to take preventive measures such as regular health checkups, screenings and immunizations. They are also more likely to eat healthfully, exercise regularly and avoid risky behaviors like smoking. That means fewer illnesses and earlier diagnoses and therefore, the segments are easier to treat as a result.
However, Willful Endurers and Direction Takers, which make up 40 percent of the population, are more reactive about their health and wellness, and thus need different engagement strategies in their healthcare journeys.
The investment is well worth it. For example, PatientBond's automated pre-admission and post-discharge communications provide the right information to the right patients with the right messaging and format to significantly reduce the likelihood of hospital readmission.
Results include a 90-day reduction in 30-day hospital readmission for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), a 75 percent reduction in nurse FTEs devoted to patient follow-up in those 30 days and a more than 30:1 return on investment (ROI). Check out how Patientbond used patient engagement to improve health outcomes and preventative care in this whitepaper.
4. Fun Engagement
Engaging with your patients doesn’t always have to be about their specific health issues. There’s a real argument for expanding your hospital’s wellness mission to include “fun.” Sponsoring a 5K race or a heart-healthy contest at the county fair are a couple of examples of "wellness fun." This isn’t frivolous. Your hospital is building a relationship not only with patients, but also the community, and that reaps the rewards over time.
Alternatively, create something that has nothing to do with health at all, and that is just pure fun like North Shore University Hospital’s photo contest or Howard County General Hospital’s “Symphony of Lights" at Christmastime.
Doing these types of non-health engagements are examples of smart marketing. You are engaging by building relationships. All of this is great for business. The cost of a stunning holiday light display on hospital grounds may spread enough goodwill to attract the healthcare business of many patients. So if you start planning next year's holiday display today, you'll see engagement can be electrifying.