6 Patient Engagement Ideas You Need to Try

May 4, 2022

Patient Engagement Ideas to Try

In a time where patients have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips, there is no shortage of options for where they can go for medical imaging. Now is the right time to refine your patient engagement strategy – especially if you strive to stand out from your competition.

Simply put, arming your patients with the right level of knowledge and accessibility to manage their health benefits them, your team, and the healthcare system in the end.

In this blog, we explore 6 patient engagement ideas and strategies that imaging departments and facilities can implement to increase patient engagement.

Aim for patient activation

Patient activation, which falls under the umbrella of the broader concept of patient engagement, is a behavioral concept that’s defined as an “individual’s knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage their own health and care.”

Since patients play key roles in deciding the need and outcomes of their care, there is growing awareness that patients should be more active managers of their health.

Several studies have shown that patients with high levels of activation experience better health outcomes at lower costs compared to less activated patients. On the other hand, patients with low levels of activation are more likely to:

  • Feel overwhelmed with the task of managing their health
  • Feel little confidence in their ability to make a positive impact on their health
  • Have had substantial experience with failing to manage their health, resulting in their passiveness in the management of their health

Patient activation and patient engagement work together to encourage patients to adopt preventative behaviors to actively maintain good health. Below are some patient engagement best practices you can follow to increase patient activation at your practice.

Patient engagement best practices to follow

Strengthen patient education

Even when healthcare providers offer medical recommendations to patients, that doesn’t always mean patients follow them. For patients to truly understand the benefits of receiving health education from physicians, high levels of engagement between both parties are required.

So how can physicians promote successful patient engagement and education? It starts with improving their patients’ health literacy.

When patients have a high level of health literacy, they have greater capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.

To ensure patients have a clear understanding of what’s being communicated to them, physicians should try to:

  • Avoid medical jargon
  • Address any questions that arise
  • Explain unfamiliar forms
  • Use “teach back” as a method to confirm understanding

Simplify language

The tip of avoiding medical jargon above easily applies to radiology reports. Patient-centered radiology reporting and content have the potential to increase patient engagement across all age groups, as shown in this study.

The reports used within the study above contained interactive diagrams and explanations written in plain language. The response to patient-centered reports was highly positive; an overwhelming majority of patients (84.7%) said that the definitions and diagrams helped them understand their report. A similar percentage of patients shared they had a positive experience viewing their report online.

The authors’ findings suggests that radiology reports that are written in plain language can improve subjective patient comprehension, lending to a positive patient experience as a result.

Radiologists can create more patient-friendly reports in a few ways, as shared by Radiology Business:

  • Skip abbreviations This improves report clarity and minimizes the possibility of miscommunication.
  • Minimize the use of terminology Imaging-related terminology is certainly bound to be seen within radiology reports, but not all referring physicians and patients may understand every term that radiologists typically use. To avoid any confusion for patients, consider writing a patient-friendly summary within the report.

Open the lines of communication

In-person medical visits aren’t the only opportunities where healthcare providers and patients can communicate in today’s world. Patients may be reached practically anywhere they are through phone calls, texts, and e-mails. However, there’s one simple communication method that patients prefer: text messages.

If in-person visits or phone calls aren’t possible, surveyed patients prefer to receive physician communications through secure text messages. Since they communicate with their friends and family through text messages daily, it’s not surprising to see that patients prefer this method of communication with their care teams too. Effective communication starts with using the method that patients are already accustomed to.

With a digital patient engagement solution, it’s possible to even automate communications with your patients. Patients receive appointment reminders and confirmations, notifications of their out-of-pocket costs, and invoices before or after their appointments – this can all be done without any manual work from your staff.

A patient viewing their radiology report within a patient portal

Include patients in decision making

Involving the patient in their own care is another approach to promote successful patient engagement. This is known as a shared decision making process, where clinicians and patients work together to make treatment decisions.

Both parties decide on the tests and care plans which balance clinical evidence on risks and expected outcomes, all while keeping the patient’s preferences and values in mind.

Patients who feel empowered to make decisions about their health experience better health outcomes such as decreased anxiety, faster recovery, and increased compliance with treatment plans.

Specifically with radiologists, patients have expressed interest in interacting with them to better understand their imaging results.

Based on a survey of 628 patients who received imaging services:

  • 81% expressed interest in reviewing imaging results with an imaging expert
  • 68% of them were interested in receiving imaging results immediately or whenever the results were available
All these findings show how important it is to increase interaction with patients and involve them in the decision making of their treatment plans when possible.

Leverage healthcare IT

Since we know patients are interested in receiving quality care in the most convenient ways possible, why not leverage patient engagement technology or software? These technologies improve patient engagement and they streamline the patient administration process.

RamSoft’s automated front desk solution makes it simple to increase patient engagement without requiring extra time or effort from your staff. Here’s how:

  • Text messages: Get the right information to your patients immediately. Our patient engagement solution leverages smart text-based conversations with patients to let them schedule and reschedule appointments, get directions, and pay their balances. Patients even receive clarity on their insurance policies so they can clearly understand what they’re financially responsible for.
  • Patient portal: This is another option where patients may schedule or reschedule their appointments. Through the portal, patients can fill out forms and consents before their appointments. They can also pay their bills before or at the time of their service.

Ready to improve patient engagement?

There are so many ways for healthcare providers to engage with patients and help them achieve their healthcare goals.

The RamSoft team is here to support your patient engagement efforts. Reach out to us to learn how we can help your imaging department or facility execute a successful patient engagement strategy.