Patient engagement means a few different things. It means that your patients are invested in their personal health and are playing an active role in both following treatment plans as well as making healthy choices on their own. It is also the effort and time a patient spends communicating with their physician regarding their health, both in and out of the office. It’s utilizing the tools that physicians provide their patients so that they can both be involved and have access to their personal health data.
Using the right tools so that patients can participate in their care is an important step in improving the quality of care given by your private practice. There are many different tools that are used by providers to help grow their practice’s level of patient engagement. One of the newest, most favored tools among busy, working patients is telehealth. Telehealth is one of the most used tools for providers looking to grow their patient base and increase patient engagement. Even if your private practice is not looking to expand, adopting telehealth may prevent you from losing the patients you already have.
Patient Engagement through Unique Communication
One of the major problems patients all over the United States are facing is a lack of nearby health care providers that have hours to accommodate their working schedules. An estimated 65 million Americans now live in “a primary care desert,” where the total number of Primary Care Doctors (PCP) can only meet 50% or less of the populations’ needs. By 2025, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects U.S. shortages of PCP’s will increase significantly. Patient engagement is nearly impossible to develop when a patient has no way to get to a PCP. Telehealth is a solution to this physician shortage, as it makes it possible for physicians to meet with these patients within the ‘primary care desert,’ and increasing access to care.
Since telehealth is set up as a video stream visit, patients have better access to PCPs than ever before. With telehealth it doesn’t matter how long it takes for a patient to drive to a provider’s office, as patients can access their provider by logging on to their desktop and communicating with them electronically. If you adopt telehealth into your private practice, you not only help reach new patients who are in the ‘primary care desert’ but you also can accommodate your current patients who are too busy to physically come in during your normal business hours. This helps keep patient engagement levels high while also ensuring you don’t risk patient attrition from unhappy patients.
Telehealth and the New Generation
While telehealth appeals a great deal to patients who are stuck in a “primary care desert,” there is also another population that is eager to stay engaged through telehealth communication. It is estimated that 60% of millennials support the use of telehealth. In a world that is increasingly driven by technological advances, it is important that healthcare professionals adopt these tools as well. Patient engagement is sometimes different depending on the generation providers are looking to address. While some senior-aged patients may prefer to make the trip to your practice to visit with their primary care doctor, this is not the case for most millennials. Younger generations are eager to keep up with technology and look for this as a characteristic of potential physicians. Younger patients are more likely to stay engaged with their providers if they can do so from the convenience of their smart phone, tablet or laptop.
Continued Success with Telehealth
Finally, it is important to address the success that has achieved by practices who utilize telehealth. Patient engagement, as well as patient satisfaction, have both seen improvements from medical practices who utilize telehealth. In a 2016 study funded by NIH, between 94% to 99% of 3,000 patients surveyed were “very satisfied” with telehealth and 1/3 preferred telehealth to an in-office doctor visit. Along with the growth of telehealth, the global telemedicine market is set to grow from $18.1 billion in 2015 to almost $30 billion in 2018. Telehealth is an increasingly growing market that continues to impress patients as well as meet their daily needs. Integrating telehealth into your private practice will not only increase patient engagement but can offer your practice financial success, as this market continues to increase in spend both across the nation and internationally.
Increasing patient engagement is a vital part of ensuring success for your private practice. Focusing on ways to enhance and motivate patient engagement within your practice and patient care will ensure that you see better health outcomes for your patients as well as a better quality of care to address symptoms or concerns they are comfortable talking about. Adopting telehealth is a savvy way to both increase patient engagement as well as revenue for your practice. If you have questions on how to get started using telehealth, contact us! We’re happy to set up a live demo and show you how to use telehealth in your day-to-day operations.