Patients are the center of your medical practice. Whether you’re trying to improve your clinical efficiency, medical staff productivity, or your clinical culture as a whole. A lot of that involves how you choose to engage with your patients. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the ways Athenahealth EMR can positively influence your patient engagement.
More than 65% of adults have a smartphone, and 75% of those adults want to access their medical records through it. In fact, 41% of patients have even stated that they would want their physicians to switch to a more patient-friendly EMR like Athenahealth.
Even if you’re used to the traditional ways of healthcare, don’t worry; improving your patient engagement doesn’t require any additional costs. In fact, most healthcare practices that develop a culture that promotes patient engagement have shown to reduce long-term costs and maximize long-term revenue.
However, before moving on to the strategies you can deploy withAthenahealth EMR, here are some patient engagement elements.
Breaking Down Patient Engagement
While many physicians confuse patient engagement with patient experience, the two are related but different. Patient engagement refers to the strategies you develop to create meaningful relationships with your patients to provide a better quality of care and satisfaction. On the other hand, patient experience refers to how your strategies are impacting the patients.
Here are some of the elements involved in an effective patient engagement strategy:
- Active collaboration between patients and physicians for improved quality of care
- A clinical culture that prioritizes patients and supports them
- The knowledge and willingness of patients to manage their health records
Check out our report on Top Performing EMR software of 2020
Here are four top strategies that you can implement to improve patient engagement with Athenahealth EMR.
Strategy #1 Define Your Values
The first step in improving patient engagement is identifying where you stand now and defining where you want to be. Establish your patient engagement values and communicate them with your senior management, shareholders, medical staff, and other physicians.
While one person can start a trend, it takes a team to maintain it. You can either use the definition of patient engagement we’ve used in this article or come with your own as well.
Define what the end goal is. No Strategy is complete without first identifying what end goal you’re targeting. If you’re aiming to improve patient engagement, what outcomes are you expecting to change? Increased satisfaction? Improved experience? Easier communication? Or all of the above?
For simplifying, you can also create different tiers of your patient engagement vision. This includes:
- Individuals: Encourage individual patients and families to take part in the decision-making of their healthcare.
- Healthcare Teams: Your healthcare teams should enable positive collaboration with patients and their families.
- Practice as a Whole: Integrate the importance of patient engagement in your strategy formulation and decision making. At this stage, you also need to set accountability for your practice as a whole.
You can also set metrics to track your progress using Athenahealth EHR. For instance, if you have an X% telehealth adoption rate among patients, you can aim to increase that to XX% in the next three months.
Strategy #2 Establish a Clear Culture
All for one and one for all is an old metaphor that’s still relevant today. You need the support of your fellow physicians, senior management, and medical staff to work as one and improve patient engagement. So here’s what you can do to ensure each of your medical staff is on board with your idea:
- Highlight the importance of medical staff and how they impact patient engagement effectiveness tailored for senior management, physicians, and medical staff.
- Highlight the underlying importance of patient engagement and the benefits it provides
- Ensure your medical staff is capable and willing to do what’s required to maximize patient engagement.
- Set clear goals to accomplish your ‘End goal.’ (You can follow the SMART goals for this)
- Address concerns of your staff and management regarding the change help promote patient-centricity.
Ensuring your team is on board with your idea is critical to your success.
Download our guide to implementing an EMR for Small Practices.
Strategy #3 Employ the Right Technology
What are the tools and technologies you need to improve your patient engagement? In this pandemic and even after it, telemedicine would be the go-to option for most patient interactions. Why? This pandemic has changed the way healthcare is delivered. If given a choice, most patients would opt for a televisit with their physicians where they don’t have to leave their homes’ comfort.
So having the right tools to help you connect and engage with your patients is a plus point. This includes a patient portal, telemedicine software, and patient engagement module. One of the most effective tools is athenaTelehealth, athenahealth’s Telehealth solution.
One of the critical factors to look for when implementing the right technologies is integration. If your technologies aren’t integrated, chances are it’s just going to be difficult to manage. You might end up creating double profiles for the same patient or bill patients twice by mistake. That’s why you should always go for a healthcare IT provider that understands the delicacies involved in maximizing patient engagement.
Things to look for in a telemedicine software.
- Flexibility and customizability to fit your needs
- A blend of online, live, and automated features
- Compliant with ICD-10 and Meaningful Use stage 2
- Low up-front cost
- Easy to update
- Effective customer support
- Able to integrate with your Medical billing and EMR software
Strategy #4 Empower Patients to Maximize Engagement
How can you encourage patients to engage and maximize the value of their care proactively? You can either come up with your own definition of an engaging patient or follow ours. Based on our research, an engaging patient:
- Proactively seeks healthcare information related to their disease
- Has access to their online healthcare records
- Adheres to the treatment options
- Is involved in the decision-making process
- Engages in various wellness activities and programs
Any patient that has these five traits is in all likelihood an engaging patient.
Once you’ve identified what counts as an engaging patient, now you need to develop a course of action to ensure your patients are able to follow that. Here’s how:
- Provide opportunities to patients and their families to talk about the problems they’re facing.
- Involve patients and their families in each step of the treatment process.
- Work with your patients, don’t make them run after you for answers.
- Offer short surveys to collect their feedback and views on your processes.
These are the strategies you can follow when the patients are in your practice. What about when they’re not?
Here are some ways you can engage with your patients through your patient portal:
- Proactively address any hesitancy or reluctance.
- Show clear benefits of using your patient portal. (Walk them through the process if required)
- When a patient calls your practice for an appointment, offer them the patient portal for ease.
- ● Don’t force patients to use it. Some patients aren’t tech-savvy and want human interaction; there’s nothing wrong with that.The Athenahealth Difference
Athenahealth is a healthcare IT provider that focuses on making healthcare accessible and engaging. Their range of services like Athenahealth EMR, practice management, patient engagement, patient portal, telemedicine, care coordination, and more are all designed to build a connection between you and your patients.