Patient engagement: it’s something that the healthcare industry consistently talks about as the key to improving the patient experience, but what exactly does it mean? How can providers create an environment that encourages patients to increase the level of interaction and involvement in their care? For providers who want to have a successful 2018, there has to be a way to take the concept of patient engagement and transform it from an elusive buzzword into a tangible, actionable plan for improving the patient experience. Here are five essentials for patient engagement in the payments process.
- A Comprehensive Plan
It seems like simple advice, but embarking on a patient engagement program is a large project and the best way to set it up for success is to have a comprehensive plan. To build out your plan, start at a high level. Instead of speculating on the keys to success, take the time to identify your problems and set goals for what you want to accomplish. Then, map out the steps needed to solve these problems and determine checkpoints for reaching your goals.
Tip: Interview different stakeholders across your organization. What do they think are pain points when it comes to patient billing and payment?
Change is a scary word in healthcare IT. It’s because there are so many systems, people, processes and sensitive data at stake, that healthcare needs to be risk-adverse. Yet, testing methods of patient engagement, measuring results and making changes quickly is a key to building a successful patient engagement program. If you build flexibility into your program, then you can test and change quickly in a way that is still controlled.
Tip: Leverage patient statements that are configurable so you can easily test and change messaging, calls to action and instructions to better engage patients.
You’re more likely to reach the goals you’ve set for your patient engagement program if you have a way to monitor progress and performance. Is your goal to drive more patient portal usage? Print and mail fewer statements? Enable more self-service payments? If you set those goals without establishing a process for you and your team to have visibility into performance, you could start falling behind.
Tip: Use a monthly scorecard to measure performance and progress toward your clearly-defined goals.
It’s good to set ambitious goals for yourself, but how can you know if your goals are realistic? Do you have a way of understanding whether your results are typical, below average or at the top of the class? If you have access to results from other organizations’ progress toward their patient engagement goals, you can see your own journey more clearly.
Tip: Everyone measures success differently. By working with a third-party to measure your goals and the goals of other organizations, you can get an objective view.
- Ongoing Maintenance
Fast forward several months – your patient engagement program has launched! Now, it needs to be monitored and maintained. Don’t let it fall through the cracks, there’s always more you can do.
Tip: Assign a team that knows the ins and outs of the program, have them meet at least monthly and hold them accountable for quarterly goals. Make sure they are passionate about patient engagement and encourage them to think outside the box.