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Bridging the Gap Between You and Your Patient

Oct 23, 2014 01:48PM ● Published by MED Magazine

Gallery: Bridging the Gap [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Michael Winkleman and Jeffrey Nasers

Patient engagement has become a top priority for healthcare, largely because of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has put the process on center stage. Industry leaders have been studying, analyzing and reporting user data to track trends. We are getting a clearer picture of what healthcare needs to look like in order to meet the industry’s expectations. 

But many questions circle around the topics of engagement: How do we effectively engage patients? With time constraints and limitations, how do we educate patients? 

One solution may be the patients themselves. Some patients are willing and able to contribute to the dialogue on how to best engage with them.  Medical practices can begin the conversation by reaching out to those key patients. In other industries, customer engagement is required to stay competitive in the market. They study their target demographic, ask for feedback from focus groups, and measure results through metrics to determine how best to meet consumer demands. Should the process be any different for healthcare?

Fortunately, the ACA has created a dialogue among consumers. Before the ACA, healthcare wasn't necessarily on consumers’ minds and health insurance wasn't competitive. Now, consumers are looking at rates and choosing coverage to suit their needs and ensure their quality of life.  Studies suggest that patients who are more informed and engaged in making healthcare decisions with their physicians are healthier and spend less on healthcare, allowing physicians to focus on meeting the needs of more critical cases.

With the use of technology on the rise and the expectation of accessibility, the time has come to utilize patient feedback to its fullest potential.  This process can start by engaging with patients before and after they leave your facility.  This is your chance to market to patients in a way that will prompt them to respond. 

For instance, websites and mobile apps can be used to bridge the gap between medical professionals and their patients. There are medical facilities that are already using their web presence as a way to educate and engage. Through educational links and access to medical records, many patients are beginning to feel more connected with their healthcare providers.

Trends show that making medical records available to patients through the web greatly empowers patients to understand how they can take action and have more informed conversations with their physician. According to a survey by Accenture, 41% of patients would choose a different physician if their current physician did not provide them with access to their medical records.  

Educational resources on the facility websites allow patients to be better prepared before they arrive for an appointment. Instructional videos can walk patients through a procedure, helping to put them at ease about what they can expect.  Having frequently asked questions readily available on the website can further inform the patient. Granting access to forms as printable documents that patients can complete before they arrive can streamline the admission process.  These are examples of successful patient engagement tactics that demonstrate results and can help set your facility apart from the rest.

Marketing to patients is now a vital part of the industry. Today, more and more American’s are concerned about what healthcare means to them. With the implementation of the ACA, consumers are now paying attention.

 

Michael Winkleman is the CEO and Director of New Business Development and Jeffrey Nasers is the Public Relations and Content Strategist at 724 Factory, a leader in Medical Branding and Marketing. 


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