Patient engagement is a broad term that combines a patient’s knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage their health (patient activation) with interventions to promote positive patient behavior. For example, patient engagement can encourage a patient to exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, or take medications per the doctor’s instructions.
A growing body of evidence shows that patients who actively participate in their health care incur low costs and experience better health outcomes. Due to this significant benefit, more and more organizations are employing strategies to improve patient engagement. For example, besides providing quality care, providers educate patients about their conditions and fully involve them in their health care decisions.
The background of patient engagement
Many patients lack health literacy or knowledge of their medical conditions. For this reason, most people struggle to understand even the most basic information and services. With the complexity of modern healthcare, it may be more challenging to obtain, process, and communicate health information.
Further, the healthcare system is somewhat indifferent or does not recognize the patients’ desires and needs. Most practitioners or healthcare providers do not provide their patients with the needed information to make better decisions about their care and treatment. On the other hand, detailed information can overwhelm patients, or they may lack confidence in their choices. Following guidelines on caring for oneself or adhering to a treatment regime can be difficult for individuals with low health literacy levels.
Recognizing these challenges, professionals set reforms to establish patient engagement in the healthcare system, envisioning a plan that offers respectful and responsive care to the needs, values, and preferences of a patient. The following is a description of patient engagement and what it entails.
The benefits of patient engagement
Increased patient knowledge and understanding
Learning is an essential variable in life that also applies in healthcare. When it comes to healthcare, there are two types of patients; one who thirsts for information and the one who buries their head in the sand and refuses to learn. Patient engagement gives patients the chance to have a better understanding of their health condition through their providers. When a patient is knowledgeable about their medical condition, they are more likely to take active steps to make the right health choices that will positively impact their health.
For example, a patient at risk of type 2 diabetes who is aware of the risk factors will lead a healthier life to prevent the onset of the disease. An informed patient will also follow a healthcare provider’s instructions, managing their health better.
Patient engagement fosters a better provider-patient relationship which is essential for better outcomes. When patients and providers work together, the patient becomes more equipped and confident to solve their problems. Additionally, healthcare providers make better decisions for the good of their patients. Involving patients also empowers them, leading to improved compliance. For example, patients will be keen not to fail in their recovery instructions to live by their oar of the collaboration. With technology advancements, providers can deliver instructions through mobile health apps and encourage collaborative recovery.
Patients take better charge of their health
It is typical for most patients to leave their healthcare responsibility in their providers’ hands. But with continued patient engagement, patients take better responsibility for their health and make informed decisions. Patient engagement also fosters trust between a healthcare provider and the patient, which should be the foundation of a good relationship. When there is trust between a patient and a doctor, the patient will be receptive to the recommended treatments and other suggestions.
Patient engagement makes the patients feel heard and involved in their health care. Consequently, patients are happier and less skeptical about the reliability of healthcare providers. Patient satisfaction is essential for any healthcare provider who wants to retain patients and attract news. When patients are happy with the service, they are likely to stick around and spread the word to others. As a result, more patients seek medical attention without any apprehension.
The main goal of patient engagement is to improve outcomes, which is only applicable when patients are educated and interested in their health.
Patient engagement is for the good of everyone; it not only benefits the patients but the healthcare providers as well. More and more health facilities are employing patient engagement to achieve greater patient satisfaction.