Patient engagement has been referred to as ‘the blockbuster drug of the century’ – but what is it?
To put it simply, patient engagement is about involving patients as much as possible in their own care. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as a crucial part of patient safety and quality improvement for healthcare institutions across the globe.
It’s a broad term, defining anything that advocates more interaction and communication between healthcare providers and patients. This means keeping patients updated and informed about treatment options, sharing knowledge and expertise, and maintaining a consistent dialogue throughout their healthcare journey.
Patient engagement is changing how we view healthcare. Many stakeholders agree that expanding the scope of patient engagement is key to achieving results on both a clinical and patient level. Engaged patients are better positioned to make decisions about their own health and are more vocal about care opportunities. Also, you can allocate resources more effectively if they’re aligned with patients’ individual needs. This is essential for the continued development of healthcare systems around the world.
Research has shown that ineffective patient engagement prevents patients from getting proper care and can stunt healthcare growth. This is because patient engagement encourages patients to share responsibility with healthcare providers, instead of relying on them exclusively. It lets care providers can more easily share essential information with patients regarding specific health needs, campaigns, and preferred methods of operating. Engaged patients are also more likely to start a dialogue with healthcare providers to discuss improvements and adjustments to current care methods. This strengthens the relationship between patient and provider, while also improving educational opportunities and eliminating miscommunication across the board.
Patients should no longer be seen as ill-fated victims of bad health, blindly following doctors’ orders. Instead, they want to make choices for themselves. On the flip side, patients need to understand the limits of medical care and must be encouraged to use health services appropriately and responsibly.
Improving patient engagement is an approach that is helping healthcare institutions achieve the "triple aim" of improved health outcomes, better patient care, and lower operating costs.
Now we know what patient engagement is and why it's vital for providing effective patient-centric healthcare. But what benefits does it offer to patients?
Patient engagement isn’t just beneficial for patients, it’s good for clinical staff too. In fact, investing in digital patient engagement solutions is considered a top priority for 72% of providers. Here’s why:
Now you know why it's such a big deal, let's explore how you can go about improving your practice's patient engagement offering.
One of the most effective methods is using regular targeted healthcare campaigns as part of your digital engagement strategy. With more and more patients using technologies like wearable tech, portable tablets, and mobile devices, there’s endless possibilities to share information, interact with patients, and spread awareness.
There’s endless possibilities, your campaign needs focus. So, first, you need to define your goals and target audience.
A successful campaign relies on reaching the right people at the right time. Start by segmenting your audience by age, gender, and location. It’s also useful to define your ideal campaign recipients by evaluating existing clinical data about patients.
There are two main types of healthcare campaign:
Awareness campaigns focus on educating patients about a particular disease, new treatment, or ways to prevent and protect themselves against certain illnesses. They can also be used to inform patients about new healthcare trends, practice information, and news.
Direct response campaigns aim to push patients to act and commit to an action such as scheduling an appointment. You can measure engagement with touchpoints, form submittals, new leads, and numbers of newly scheduled appointments.
It’s important to determine which campaign type will help you reach your target audience early on in the campaign process. It ensures you're reaching the right people from the start.
Personalised care from providers, including clear communication and tailored engagement— is the top healthcare priority, according to respondents to a Deloitte survey of healthcare consumers.
A successful campaign will use one or more of these goals as a springboard to provide value across both a patient and clinical level.
If awareness is your end goal, then ensuring your campaigns are factually correct, up-to-date, and appropriately targeted will give them the best chance of success.
Ultimately, the success of a campaign depends on how much it engages patients. If a campaign is forgettable, irrelevant, or unsuited to their needs, then they won’t think twice about disregarding it. A successful campaign will boost patient engagement, but also help you establish your practice as a reliable and trusted source of both information and effective treatment.
Consistent evaluation of your campaigns is essential, as it will give you useful stats and information. In order to keep delivering relevant content, you’ll need to understand as much as you can about the people you’re trying to reach. For healthcare providers, this means collecting as much data as possible about each patient interaction.
You can achieve this by using effective analytic and reporting functionality across your healthcare technology. You’ll be able to monitor open rates, email bounces, failed deliveries, and rejected addresses of your patient communications. This allows you to optimise future communications and keep continuously improving their effectiveness.
Analytics also provide key insights into the quality of your patient data, which allows you to make alterations or remove inaccuracies. You can then export these results to third-party platforms for further analysis, giving your practice the power to better understand your patients and create even better healthcare campaigns in the future.
When analysing your e-mail engagement and campaign interactions, you’ll want to be aware of the open rate, clicks through, and unsubscribes.
Finally, one often-overlooked way to quantify the success of a campaign is by using survey software to reach out to patients for feedback on your campaigns. By listening to patient feedback, you can see what areas were effective and relevant, and what could be improved.
By conducting regular surveys with returning patients as well as new ones, you’ll gain actionable insight to work on for future campaigns. It’s worth sending out surveys on a regular basis, but make sure this doesn’t get excessive. There’s nothing worse than hundreds of emails clogging up your inbox.
With the rise of digital marketing, it’s easier than ever to send information, spread knowledge and engage patients wherever they are. Digital outreach can also reduce overall patient acquisition costs by as much as 50%.
The key to better patient engagement lies in promoting health literacy, ensuring your healthcare campaigns educate, inform, and, ultimately, help patients help themselves. To improve your healthcare campaigns, you’ll need to ensure you offer personalisation, assurance and visibility, and also take advantage of digital solutions to increase engagement.
The first step in improving any campaign is ensuring you reach your target audience, with a message that personally resonates with them. Using the appropriate tactics to reach your ideal audience can also help save money by minimising resources lost on irrelevant or mis-communicated campaigns.
By personalising your campaigns, you can actively target those who are most likely to respond positively to communication and ensure your campaigns have the largest impact. For example, a network of hospitals and clinics in the U.S. was able to boost its online portal membership by 25% by sending targeted emails and SMS messages.
You can achieve this by using campaign software to create custom email and SMS content specific to targeted groups. You can then use these groups to create templates for further campaigns and easily filter through specific demographics to ensure your campaigns are reaching the right people, every time.
Some campaign methods, like sending email or SMS reminders and follow up instructions, involve repetitive, manual tasks. You can automate these to return higher levels of engagement. For example, a practice with 6,000 patients that automates medical appointment reminders can save between $375 (£295) and $3,000 (£2387) a month, by freeing their staff from having to provide generalised information over the phone.
Automation can help nurture inactive consumers until they convert or support ongoing engagement of existing patients over a long period of time. By using the right technology to automate communication, practices can continue to engage and inform patients, building loyalty outside of the clinician’s office.
Finally, ensure your campaigns are visible to a wide range of audiences. This includes making your content shareable and relatable across all platforms. Research has proven the importance of reaching and engaging less accessible populations, so make the extra effort to interact with them.
Healthcare campaigns have driven patient engagement in many institutions across the world. Here are two of our favourites.
The Patient Voice Initiative (PVI) in Australia aims to empower healthcare consumers to take a more active role in their healthcare. The initiative brings together patients, heath organisations, and the government to discuss how to better understand the patient perspective on the future of healthcare.
The initiative started an ongoing dialogue about how the Australian health technology assessment (HTA) system can better incorporate the view of patients. Through their campaigns they have brought many patients onboard and given them a chance to be a part of the changes. With their input, organisations are better equipped to provide quality care to consumers that meets their growing demands.
Across the world, the National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC) in Manchester, UK, uses a combination of social media and online resources to reach a wide demographic of patients. This assists in spreading awareness of chronic aspergillosis disease. As the illness is quite rare, the only effective way to reach many of their patients outside of the practice is through online campaigns.
Treating certain types of aspergillosis is a very difficult, advanced process. Only a few centres across the world have the level of specialisation needed to effectively manage the disease. The clinic found that after running several awareness campaigns and putting information on treatment options online, patients garnered a greater understanding of the disease and then brought what they’d learned back to their respective GP surgeries. It’s through campaigns like this that patient engagement can flourish, resulting in great outcomes for both patients and practices.
In recent years, technology has become one of the most integral parts of healthcare marketing. It plays an important role in maintaining a relationship with patients both inside and away from the practice.
Whether that’s by spreading awareness through well-crafted campaigns or automating messages and reminders to save time, it’s clear that digital solutions can have a large, beneficial impact on both patients and clinical staff alike.
With healthcare marketing becoming a mainstay in the modern world, it’s essential that you make the most out of technology. It will keep your practice assessable, strengthen the impact of your patient interactions, and ensure you’re fully prepared for the changes of the future.
With patient engagement becoming more and more integral to successful healthcare, it’s important that organisations keep up with the trend and don’t lag behind.
If you want to start improving patient engagement, then you need the right technology to assist you.
With Jayex Connect you can roll out all of your patient-centric campaigns, simplify your arrival processes, and gain valuable feedback to stay ahead of trends – from a single intuitive dashboard.