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Richard WangRichard Wang, SVP of Product

Retaining, acquiring, and finding new ways to serve patients is necessary for large health systems that want to remain competitive and profitable. In theory, it sounds like a simple task. However, the current state of the industry and evolving patient needs make it anything but simple.

It’s challenging to stay relevant when providers only see patients in person on rare occasions. Plus, with so many competitive offerings that seek to see patients just as often or more frequently, it’s essential that health systems create and maintain meaningful interactions and connections. So, how can health systems accomplish this goal? Relationship building through a comprehensive patient engagement (PE) program is key.

Current State of Patient Engagement Programs

With past initiatives such as Meaningful Use (MU) stage 2 patient portal requirements only requiring 5% of patients to view, download, or transmit their health record, the bar was already set low. However, that low requirement rate also indicated that engaging with patients was widely considered to be quite challenging. This proved to be true when, as the time of attestation drew near, a large number of providers protested this metric as being unachievable; causing The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to change the initial reporting requirements from 5% to just “one patient needs to view, download, or transmit their health record.”

With the explosion of digital health vendors, one could argue that the industry has moved on since then. However, the number of PE programs, all sending patients a barrage of digital health alerts, has simply replaced low engagement with confusion and anxiety. Now patients receive notifications from multiple vendors, each with various messages, prompting different actions—making it increasingly difficult for patients to get value from their health system.

Ideal Patient Engagement Solution

Consider these key attributes when finding the right PE solution for your health system.

Scalable patient personalization
Keep in mind that personalized is different than customized. A personalized PE solution is tailored to the patient based on readily available information. That, in turn, needs to be scalable so that it can be deployed to large populations in a programmatic and automated fashion to not burden clinical staff.

Multi-faceted, but offers a consistent branded patient experience
Patients should see the same health system brand across different digital touchpoints. A health system may use ten or more apps, which can confuse patients very quickly. Consistent branding promotes trust and brand loyalty and creates a cohesive user experience, ultimately reducing confusion and frustration.

Uses contextual engagement to fit into a patient’s lifestyle
Prompting users with actions or sending them reminders when they are dealing with other aspects of their daily life can feel disruptive and bothersome. A solution that engages patients when they’re thinking about their healthcare will be more successful.

For example, engaging a patient while they’re scheduling an appointment, checking up on a reading from a medical device, or learning about their newly prescribed medication will yield better results than reaching out to patients out of the blue, as many CRM solutions do.

At Xealth, we prioritize this level of contextual engagement.

Makes managing healthcare easier
Patients live busy lives, so providing them with opportunities to easily manage their healthcare online is of the utmost importance. Allowing them to accomplish tasks that don’t require personal interaction, such as rescheduling an appointment, will increase adoption.

Measures PE more holistically across multiple programs
A health system may have multiple programs up and running simultaneously with different governing bodies. This makes it difficult to track each program’s success. An ideal PE solution can track and consolidate metrics across all programs to help health systems better understand their patients and their needs.

Tips for Implementing an Effective Patient Engagement Program

Here are four actions your health system can take to get started

  • Establish a governance team. Ensure organization-wide buy-in and create a team who will govern the program.
  • Start with simple aspects of your program first. Outline simple, easily agreed upon aspects of the program first. For example: wanting to send patient education documents electronically rather than printing. Patients will throw away the printed materials and then Google them later—leading to the same information and more killed trees.
  • Define measures of success. It’s impossible to prove a success without clearly defined measurements.
  • Just do it: iterate! Don’t get stuck in planning mode; actually implement a system, learn from experiences, and use those experiences to improve your program.

3 Ways Patient Engagement is a Competitive Advantage

With a robust PE program, health systems can:

  1. Gain a deeper line of sight into all patient touchpoints instead of relying on third-party vendors to provide data and insights.
  2. Own all communication channels with their patients.
  3. Use data from vendors to identify more and better ways to serve their patients.

Taking control of your digital health tools, including the data that drives patient relationships, puts your health system in a much more advantageous position and makes you less likely to experience patient leakage to competing resources in the community.

Drive Patient Action

Getting patients to act is hard, but is critical to the financial health of large health systems. A comprehensive digital health solution like Xealth enables health systems to manage and control patient engagement programs and deliver optimal experiences for patients, providers, and health systems. Learn how connecting your digital health vendors using Xealth can support your patient engagement platform for a competitive advantage.

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