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6 easy ways to improve patient engagement (without adding time to your day)

September 15, 2023
Improving patient engagement doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. These six simple adaptations mean you can deepen your connection with your patients - without taking extra time out of your working day. 

Why is patient engagement important?

Patient engagement in healthcare means your customers are actively involved and invested in their care journey. This is key to their wellbeing. From making an appointment and decision-making when it comes to treatment options, patients should be empowered when it comes to their care. By creating a patient engagement strategy for your practice, you provide a better service and build trust with your patients, ensuring a long-lasting relationship.

What are the benefits of a strong patient engagement strategy?

Improved customer satisfaction: Patients who feel looked after in their care journey, who feel respected and listen to, will engage more with the care they’re provided. If patients believe their best interests are being considered, and are involved in key decisions concerning their health, they are more responsive to treatment options and more likely to remain a loyal customer.

Reduced costs: Patients who feel disengaged from their care providers are twice as likely to delay care and three times more likely to have unmet medical needs. Engaged patients therefore reduce the rate of no-shows, schedule prompt follow-up appointments and are likely to require fewer visits.

Improved patient health: Experts believe engaging patients and encouraging them to actively participate in their own care journey has significant benefits. They have increased knowledge around conditions, tests and treatments; more realistic expectations about the benefits and drawbacks of care; more likely to adhere to treatment plans; and in some cases, have improved health outcomes.

6 simple strategies to improve patient engagement overnight

1. Automate patient engagement

Effective patient engagement can be life-changing when done well. But it’s true that it can be a drag on resources; manually sending communications can be timely.

Automating these workflows using your practice management system eliminates time spent on such admin. Pre-consultation questionnaires, appointment reminders and follow-up messaging can be sent automatically, keeping patients engaged and informed at every step of their care journey. This helps to reduce the number of no-shows, but it also builds trust: your patients know they can rely on your practice to help them get to appointments on time and provide appropriate aftercare.

“Using Semble’s online booking, remote questionnaires and template-driven consultations, combined with a high-quality group of GPs, we have driven rapid growth of 433% over the last three years. This year is another year of growth, as we expand our team, move to larger premises and develop new ranges of services.”

 - Dr Shilpa Davé, GP, Director at Shilpa Davé Health

Automation also frees up your staff. Instead of spending time calling and emailing patients, they’re able to focus their attention on the those arriving for their appointments. Anyone with experience in a busy workforce knows that tensions can run high when there’s excessive stress and too much to do. Automation ticks so many of those jobs off the list, leaving your staff less stressed and able to focus on being present with patients.

2. Build a patient dashboard

There can be a lot of paperwork involved in patient care. Physical doctor’s notes, pathology results, letters and other documents can be hard to keep track of, or even lost. With a patient dashboard, all your communication with your patient sits in one place, with documents uploaded quickly and easily. This means your patients don’t have to wait days to receive lab results, instead they're received in just hours, and can then be uploaded and accessed on the patient dashboard immediately. It makes communication with your patients fuss-free, but also allows them to remain engaged and involved in their own care journey.

3. Invest in Telehealth

As the McKinsey Institute note, thanks to Covid restrictions, “seemingly overnight, telehealth went from an industry sidenote to the primary means of seeing noncritical patients.”

Telehealth removes a barrier to care, simplifying the relationship between patients and their healthcare professional. Communication that centres around the patient increases engagement – they’re proven that patients take more of an interest in their illness and become proactive in taking preventative measures. In fact, 65% of our customers use Semble Telehealth to enhance their patient experience, which significantly increases their patient reach and makes care more accessible.

4. Be engaged at every step

Patient engagement doesn’t start when a patient arrives at your clinic – and if it does, you’re already at a disadvantage.

Appointment reminders and pre-consultation questionnaires kick-start the patient journey. The latter in particular removes the stress of trying to complete complex forms in the waiting room when anxiety levels are higher. Completing forms from the comfort of your own home also allows patients more time and so improves the accuracy of the information provided. It also benefits your staff – appointments remain on time and practitioners can familiarise themselves with a patient, preparing themselves for outcomes and concerns before they enter the room.

Engagement during the appointment is crucial. Patients are more transparent with someone they trust, and therefore receive a better level of care with a health professional who has taken the time to understand them beyond the ailment they are there for. You’ve got the admin out the way pre-appointment, so you can spend some time one-on-one with the patient, getting to know their history and addressing their concerns. When patients feel like they have a connection with their doctor, they’re more likely to follow their treatment plans and medication schedules.

After a patient has left your practice, they are by no means healed – this could be the start of their medical journey. If aftercare is complex, or requires major lifestyle changes, non-compliance can reach heights of 70%. Digital reminders, post-appointment check-ins and questionnaires, and payment reminders all allow you to keep in touch with your patients. Swift communication and sharing via your patient dashboard show the patient that you’re invested in their well-being.

5. Segment your patients

Segmenting your patients by demographic, practitioner or even medical history can give you tailored, more meaningful interactions with them. It also means you can avoid unnecessary comms with your whole audience – because not everyone needs to know there’s a complimentary presentation on hip pain next week! Within Semble, you can segment patients using labels, separating them by illness type, treatment stages, location and much more. Use their preferred channels of communication to get in touch and they’ll appreciate the bespoke nature of your contact.

6. Keep an eye on what’s working

Patient engagement doesn't always seem like an easy thing to track. But what's the harm in asking patients outright? Automated post-appointment questionnaires are the best measure of your practice's success. There are also some behind-the-scenes indicators that will give you a keen sense of whether your engagement plan is working. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a reduction in the number of no-shows?
  • Is patient retention high?
  • Are people opening and clicking through on your communications?
  • Do they respond to calls to action?
  • What is your unsubscribe rate?
  • Are preventable readmissions to your practice low?

Before implementing any new engagement strategy, jot down your desired metrics as they stand, and re-evaluate using your Semble analytics every few months.

Interested in learning more about patient engagement?

You've come to the right place. Our knowledgeable experts will show you how easy it is to leverage Semble's features in order to make the most of engaging your patients.