5 Technologies for Boosting Patient Engagement

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If you’ve been paying attention to the healthcare zeitgeist in recent years, chances are you’ve heard the phrase "patient engagement". From Brisbane to Baltimore, boosting patient engagement has become a primary goal for healthcare providers. In recent blogs we’ve covered patient engagement’s importance, but what are the best technologies to boost it?

Online Appointment Booking and Patient Portals

The idea that providing digital access to patients can improve patient engagement isn’t necessarily a new one, but it is effective.

Allowing your patients to book an appointment, request a repeat prescription, leave feedback on treatment, or access the latest health information from their tablet, laptop or smartphone gives them a more proactive role in their own healthcare.

What’s more, it has the added benefit of meeting your patients “where they’re at”. According to Sensis, 87% of Australians access the internet daily,  spending an average 10 hours a day on an internet connected device. This means that any healthcare provider attempting to boost patient engagement should look to do so through the medium that the majority of their patients are most likely to use, and increasingly this is via digital devices. 

Wearable Tech

Wearables hold many benefits for patients, particularly those with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. For many adoptees, simply making the decision to wear a device is the bold first step on the road to better engagement with their own healthcare management.

Furthermore, these devices provide another level of awareness and a potent source of motivation for patients to be proactive with their healthcare needs. Giving wearers the ability to track day-to-day exercise or diet provides them with a better grasp on how daily choices can affect their health, as well as attainable daily goals.

For providers, having access to this data about patients’ daily activity can help with making more informed decisions—the more insight the healthcare provider has into a patient’s life, the better they can tailor the personalised course of treatment likely to work for their unique circumstances.

SMS and Email Notifications

We mentioned Australia’s proclivity for smartphones and digital devices earlier, and, as well as allowing patients to more easily access healthcare media themselves, the widespread use of digital devices offers healthcare providers a golden opportunity to better connect with their patients.

This is where SMS and email notifications come in. Now, your immediate reaction to the suggestion that SMS can be a useful engagement tool might be to question whether this is 2004. However, using both SMS and email notifications can yield a few important benefits for your patient engagement.

First of all, using the two in conjunction gives you a way to reach all of your patients—most people possess either an email address or telephone number. Secondly, it gives you a means of reaching your patients with healthcare initiatives, appointment reminders, and timely information such as practice closure dates, instantaneously and no matter where the patient is.

Finally, SMS and email can be used as a prompt for patients to register for online appointments, potentially increasing your online appointment uptake and patient loyalty.

Digital Displays

In Australia, digital media consumption was up 4.4% year-on-year in 2016, and during the same period print consumption declined by 8.6% — evidence, if it were needed, that the way we consume media and access information is changing. With this in mind, it makes little sense to continue to try and engage with most patients through traditional mediums such as health awareness pamphlets and posters.

Instead, many healthcare providers are beginning to provide healthcare messaging through smart patient information screens and digital displays in waiting rooms. These offer the ability to broadcast everything from local healthcare messaging and custom healthcare awareness content, to live TV— all while patients wait.

Using digital media players to boost patient engagement follows a simple logic: patients are much more likely to remember and engage with healthcare messaging if it’s delivered in a way that piques their interest or keeps them entertained. To put it another way, as a waiting patient, which are you more likely to remember: the dated flu vaccination leaflet you picked up off the table, or the punchy 3-minute video you watched on why flu vaccination is important? Our money is on the latter.

Alongside this, digital media players allow for customisable content—meaning practice staff can be far more proactive in exposing patients to the latest public health campaigns, as well as providing content specific to their community.

Smart Surveys

Healthcare providers have always used surveys as a tool for patient engagement, and understandably so: the quantitative and qualitative data they provide is often key in identifying patient trends.

However, in the past, patient surveys were often at the mercy of patients feeling charitable enough to fill them in and staff having enough time to process the data. Things have changed. As digital displays and patient check-in kiosks have become near ubiquitous in healthcare settings, they have also become the perfect vessel for the delivery of patient surveys.

Instead of filling out printed surveys, which they may or may not return, or being directed to a website they have little interest in visiting, patients are prompted to answer questions during the check-in process. Hardly ground-breaking, but it offers patients a quick and simple process, at a time when they’re already answering check-in questions. This creates a seamless survey process, which feels like a slight extension of check-in—making patients so much more likely to respond.

As an added coup for busy practice managers, the analytics and reporting built into many survey modules make immediate data processing much less time-consuming. Not only does this save precious minutes for busy staff, it also allows for up-to-the-minute analysis of patient trends— providing all the data needed to inform decision-making and address concerns proactively long before they become problems.

Over the last few years, technology has become the anvil on which great patient engagement is forged, and the importance of technology to healthcare providers is only likely to increase with time. So, if you'd like to know more about using technology to boost your patient engagement, click on the banner below to speak to one of our experts.


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