Gone are the days when doctors assume the know-it-all role. Patients no longer want to take the backseat when it comes to their medical care. Today we are talking about patient engagement.
In the past, patients went to their doctor’s office with more questions than answers about their health. Now, most patients have looked up information on the internet before they go to a consult. They have read about their symptoms and talked with their friends and families. They may even have a list of options that they think would solve their problem.
Patients want to partner with their providers when it comes to their health. Doctors who refuse to engage with their patients will lose them in the end. Either they lose the patient to the disease or lose the patient from their practice.
What is Patient Engagement?
According to a research article by Kristin Carman, et al. in Health Affairs, patient and family engagement is when “patients, families, their representatives, and health professionals work in active partnership at various levels across the healthcare system—direct care, organizational design and governance, and policymaking—to improve health and health care.”
In short, patients are engaged in their healthcare when they share in the decision-making process and management of their condition.
Why Should You Engage Your Patient?
Recent studies have shown that engaged patients have better health outcomes, get better quality of care, and pay less in health care expenses.
Empowering the patient is much like teaching them how to fish rather than giving them the fish. Patients who know self-care tend to be healthier.
How Do You Engage Your Patient?
The foundation of patient engagement remains basic. Establish a good doctor-patient relationship. Break down the barrier, whether social, language or health literacy barriers. Then the rest of your engagement strategies will be effective.
How do you get started?
Here are key findings from the 2013 Health Policy Brief by Health Affairs to give you some guidance on how to engage your patients.
According to Kristin Carman, et al. of the American Institutes for Research, patient engagement occurs in three levels.
The first is at the direct care level, that is, between the doctor and the patient.