The highest purpose for any healthcare provider is to enhance the health of patients. What if we told you there are non-medical approaches hospitals, centers, and medics can apply to acquire better results in it?
There is proof that reveals that increasing patient engagement helps improve health outcomes. When patients become more involved in their own care, it can often lead to better health indexes. This is why healthcare institutions and facilities often pursue and implement methods and solutions to help sufficiently engage with their patients.
What is Patient Engagement Technology?
Let’s start by defining patient engagement. This technology involves encouraging patients to take an active role in their healthcare plan and make more informed decisions. Opposed to traditional medicine, where a physician prescribes treatment and the patient decides to accept it or not, in a patient-engagement framework the patient and healthcare providers work together to find the best treatment options. Today, the demand for the implementation of digital practices regarding healthcare challenges has increased significantly, and the possibility of virtual problem-solving has become a priority for patients. However, it’s not uncommon for healthcare providers and other stakeholders to not yet know what a patient engagement solution is and how it can fit into their practice.
Simply put, patient engagement systems are any type of electronic healthcare system that strengthens the relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient by facilitating communication, tasking, and patient education. They can include, for example, the following tools:
health risks assessments;
screenings for care gaps;
side effects management;
requests for feedback;
follow-up contact, etc.
It is easy to find ready-made patient engagement systems on the market that healthcare professionals can purchase for their institutions. The good thing about these existing solutions is that they are readily available; however, as they are pre-built, they might not suit your needs completely. Every facility has different workflows and systems, and when you buy an off-the-shelf patient engagement solution, you’ll definitely need to adapt processes and software, which can be quite complex. That’s why consolidated facilities with multiple services, tighter workflows, and the need to integrate with existing software are probably much better off building a dedicated healthcare solution.
The ultimate goal of custom platform development is a solution that meets your unique needs, satisfies your internal processes, and most importantly, increases patient engagement, which in turn leads to more positive health outcomes, among other benefits.
Global Market of Patient Engagement Solutions
The significant expansion of the global patient engagement solutions market can be attributed to the widespread use of mobile health apps coupled with the high demand for health-tracking software. In addition, an increasing number of supportive government regulations and healthcare initiatives in various countries around the world also offer favorable prospects for the growth of the patient engagement solutions market.
The global patient engagement solutions market is forecast to reach USD 32 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 10.2% during 2022-2028 (forecast period).
The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the adoption of digital health apps, and it’s fuelling the patient engagement solutions market. Telemedicine technologies are being rapidly deployed to help clinicians diagnose, monitor and care for patients remotely, contributing to a digital healthcare system.
In addition, health tracking is becoming more and more important in everyday life. In today's technologically advanced world, patients have access to information that can help them receive personalized care and maintain a healthy lifestyle. People are increasingly tracking their health data, and many are sharing it with their trainers and doctors to keep them in the loop. These factors cannot help but play a leading role in driving the growth rate of the global patient engagement solutions market.
Patient Engagement Solutions For Hospitals: What They Can Be
As we wrote before, there are different alternatives when choosing a platform for patient engagement: you can order a new custom solution, create a CMS-based software, or use a ready-made program. The appropriateness of the choice depends on the type of provider of medical services, the required functions, and the budget.
Ready-Made Patient Engagement Software Solutions
Ready-made software solutions already come with pre-allocated features and integrations. In general, each software has its own focus, so while a platform can schedule new appointments and also register new patients if its primary purpose is scheduling, it may lack some of the features that healthcare providers are looking for in their patient registration solution. Costs often include customization, support, and licensing. This can be ideal for smaller medical practices, such as independent physicians, who have limited start-up capital.
Best for CMS-Based Patient Engagement Solutions
Such solutions are built using existing content management platforms (CMS). It allows the creation of basic features such as patient registration, appointment, or scheduling and can integrate with EMR/EHR.
Hosted platforms might be a more lucrative and cost-efficient solution. However, their monthly plans rarely cover maintenance, and you’ll have to pay for third-party plugins and extensions individually. As a result, this option proposes minimal functionality.
CMS-based solutions can be a pretty good choice if you need a quick solution, but you don’t expect to expand anytime soon, as the system isn’t really scalable, which can limit your growth.
Custom Patient Engagement Solutions
Custom solutions are developed specifically for the organization it is being created for: they cover all of the specific needs, workflows, and processes. It’s created from scratch, so the organization has freedom of choice as well as total control over all the features, integrations, and technologies it’s built on.
Developing a custom patient engagement solution gives a facility the flexibility to create a user-centric, problem-solving platform. Your possibilities and scope are close to infinite, and the impact on the patient experience is enormous.
Individual solutions require time and budget; they are usually best for healthcare facilities with a wide range of services. It is the most acceptable alternative for companies planning to expand, as the solution is scalable. It is also the right choice for institutions that have rigid workflows that cannot be easily adapted to an existing solution.
Patient Engagement Solutions Compliant with HIPAA
As patient engagement solutions mainly involve personal data, security is a top and critical concern. All platforms that collect, use, or store the protected health information (PHI) of users, and transmit this to a medical institution must be HIPAA compliant (for the U.S. market).
This is true for most patient engagement solutions, especially considering that it is the principal communication channel between patient and provider, so it is important to be secure and private.
There are some specifics to consider, for example, access to PHI must be restricted with a unique username and password for every user. When making a patient engagement solution, it’s crucial to work with an entrusted software development company with experience in HIPAA Compliance.
How to Encourage Patient Engagement?
Although the imaginary picture of patients conscientiously engaged in monitoring their health status seems as attractive as possible, without understanding it will not work. Let’s say you have cool and fancy patient solution platforms and even an AI-powered risk mitigation system at your disposal. And you’d like to communicate with your patient based on data, not gut conversations. All you have to do now is make sure the patient understands you. In his eyes, you want to be a reliable partner in the healthcare field and not a charlatan.
First, it should be remembered that healthcare is full of academic terms. And these scientific phrases have such power that even seriously ill patients can quickly run away after the first meeting with them. Therefore, it is necessary to provide information simply and clearly. Instead of hurling words for which an eminent professional will express respect to you, it is better to explain the phenomena, perhaps more elaborately, but definitely understandable. You can overcome this problem by designing attractive interfaces that improve the user experience. And it is worth considering the possibility of using various forms of educational materials, including videos or articles.
Primary information is not enough to improve patient engagement. It is also desirable to provide the patient with personal step-by-step solutions. If we tell you that you can become a multi-millionaire as soon as you start earning a lot, you are unlikely to recommend us to your friends as a reliable source of information. So it often happens that the patient hears a similar “recipe for happiness” such as “You have insulin resistance, it’s time to stop eating simple carbohydrates.” Easy to say, harder to listen to, the hardest to do.
Therefore, doctors should always provide the patient with an overview of possible solutions and explain how to approach his changes. In this case, they can recommend instead of sweets a healthier alternative based on frozen berries and different ways to occupy himself while thinking about chocolate on sale in the nearby supermarket. And you can do it with the spell of patient engagement software. For example, chat boxes with assistants that answer predefined questions, or automated solutions that would send emails based on a diagnosis. The client will be digitally provided with recommendations and articles on effectively lowering insulin levels with the help of quality sleep and a clear eating schedule.
Also, following the trend above, try to be specific about your ideas. For example, if you ask how much caffeine a person consumes, keep in mind that “a lot” means 2 cups of coffee for one person or more than 8 cups of coffee for another. And be sure that the majority will not count the tea they drank, not associating it with caffeine at all. You can avoid misunderstandings by preparing a medical course outline with the appropriate vocabulary. And this plan will be easily accessible from anywhere in the world through an attractive interface.
Involve the patient in setting goals. People tend to participate in processes that will solve something for them personally. Today, many people would rather search for information on Google than adapt their actions to the recommendations of a doctor. It drives professionals crazy, but it can be avoided by simply taking care of the sense of belonging.
Patients are more willing to follow a plan if they are confident in its goals and workflow. And the more specific and individual goals are set, the smoother and more reliable cooperation is. You can see this attitude succeed when you consider wellness apps that allow users to set their own goals (e.g.: lose 11 pounds in 2 months, work out twice a week). A little later some changes are made (like, well, my friend’s wedding is coming soon, how can I refuse a piece of cake? Or maybe two...), and you can adjust the diet according to the goals. This keeps the user motivated all the time, not just at the beginning. With these simple gamification features, you can help your patients work on their healthy habits and increase their engagement.
Having a patient engagement solution might be inquiring for medical institutions, but the benefits undoubtedly make the challenge beneficial. Undeniably, patient engagement positively impacts patients’ and providers’ lives and improves the overall experience. Medical organizations ought to keep up with this growing demand to maintain their patients’ devotion. Developing the solution with an experienced healthcare software development company that understands the healthcare industry’s challenges is key.
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