According to a recent study, patients who aren’t involved with the decisions made about their care have a 34 percent greater chance of being readmitted than those who have a greater degree of involvement with their care. Since hospital readmissions cost more than $41.3 billion annually, patient satisfaction and engagement are more important than ever.
Unfortunately, improving patient engagement isn’t as simple as updating patient portals. It involves the willingness to help patients become more active in managing their care, whether it’s reducing care costs or using Automated Dispensing Cabinets. A fuller explanation follows.
Encourage Patients to Get Involved
As far as direct involvement in care is concerned, patients have been out in the cold for so long they don’t often realize that, to a great extent, their health care is in their hands. For this reason, patient care should, to a much greater extent, involve the patient, their goals, values, and preferences.
Patients should have more meaningful goals than just getting out of the hospital or feeling better. Meaningful goals might include such objectives as walking their daughter down the aisle on her wedding day or eliminating certain medications.
When patients have personal goals, they become more vested and open to making shared decisions. For this reason, patients should be educated about their course of treatment so they can achieve their own goals and help formulate their treatment plans.
Involve Loved Ones
A 2019 study showed that 35 percent of respondents listed support from their family and friends as the top-rated, most-effective approach towards engaging patients in their care. Some avenues toward this include the obvious such as quitting smoking and adopting a healthy diet. They also include being present in a healthcare setting and understanding the purpose of equipment such as Automated Dispensing Cabinets.
Support from family and friends is essential, even in the case of short-term health situations. Gestures such as sending an email to a patient’s family before they enter treatment or a followup on their condition serve to involve them greatly.
Provide Patients and Family Members with Easy-to-Understand Resources
Patients and their families need to feel like they understand their loved one’s condition. This isn’t helped when the counseling and materials they receive are filled with jargon and technical language. When medical terms are used, they should be explained, with complex information being broken down into easier-to-understand terms.
Open Doors of Communication
Information should be sharable and provided to everyone who has an interest in the patient’s condition. Several studies have shown that patients and family members who have access to their medical information engage better with their care.
Patients should be encouraged to use two-way communication avenues to get questions answered or find out about treatment options as they evolve. For healthcare providers, this means creating care plans that can be given to patients, especially when explanations are complicated.
In many cases, there will be ED visits and other acute care encounters. In many cases, this will happen when patients and their families have no other options if something happens. This is not ideal for anyone involved, but patients and their loved ones feel more engaged in their treatments and overall condition when instructions for these situations are provided.
Taken as a whole, the suggestions above provide a good course of better patient health and improve the engagement of a patient in their care.