Improving Patient Engagement in the Healthcare Industry

Patient Engagement is only achieved when providers and patients work together to maintain accurate health information, where easily accessible and credible information can be trusted and sourced. Only then can it positively impact one’s personal healthcare decision-making which can then affect their overall well-being.

The idea is that engaged patients are better for the industry as it is a critical step towards sustainability in the medical field.  Patients are more informed about their healthcare options and resources are utilized effectively as they would be better aligned with patient’s priorities.

However, despite efforts made, not all patients are fully engaged. Studies have shown that about 50% of the time, medication is not taken as prescribed by doctors. Unfortunately, this has led to 10% of patients are being hospitalized, 26% of them being readmitted when it could have been preventable and up to 125,000 deaths per year.

Some of the challenges faced with patient engagement are the lack of access of information readily available or the way how that content is communicated. For example, the younger or more educated patients may quickly turn to the internet as their primary source of health information. However, that may not be the case for all. Low health literacy and limited English proficiency pose as possible barriers for some users so resorting to more traditional means of communication like printed media may be an alternative option to consider.

Furthermore, health literacy is something that health providers should consider improving. Despite having everything found on the internet, educating users on what is credible is just as necessary. The internet is littered with information which can easily target and mislead victims like cheap and quick but dangerous medical alternatives and many of them are probably scams. Health literacy would help to sift out the bad information and would help gather the appropriate ones needed. Also, having available information kept simple and brief could be ideal from having patients trail away to other unknown sources.

It is only fair that if healthcare providers wish for patients to see them as their primary source of information then they should provide ways of preparing such information for them, for example, handouts that are culturally appropriate and that catered to a specific community in mind. Providing them accessible links and portals in their own language is also encouraging. This can instigate sharing of data among users.

Health organisations know the importance of patient engagement so acknowledging some of the existing barriers can help identify different ways that healthcare providers can take to help improve the situation.

References:

  1. Overcoming Disparities in Healthcare Information Through Improved Patient Engagement, July 2019, IDigitalHealth
  2. What is Patient Engagement? HIMSS
  3. 6 essential strategies to improve patient engagement, June 2017, BeckershospitalReview