When a non-clinical person has health issues that seem more complicated than the common cold and flu, the general emotions are confusion and fear. Patients and their families often tend to fear the worst primarily because being sick involves not just the physical pain that one endures. However, we all know that it is not limited to the inherent pain, but also includes the cost of the treatment and the time of family members and patients involved without a degree of certainty for a successful outcome.
Hospitals engage counselors to help patients and their families understand the complexity of their health condition and their treatment procedure. Still, some gaps can be fulfilled, only through active patient engagement practices.
What is patient engagement?
When patients and their families are well informed about all the aspects of their potential treatments, recovery, medication options, and other systems pertinent to their care, the outcomes are better. Patient engagement is a continuous process and will require two-way interaction from both patients and clinicians to comprehend any evolving changes. It is critical to encourage patients to ask questions as that is a leeway to know if the treatment plan is on track and if they are responding well to it.
In short, patient engagement is their participation and involvement in course of the treatment plan. It helps them stay motivated and take the initiatives to improve their health through disease management and preventive practices.
For instance, if walking daily reduces the stress and blood pressure of a patient, then when they are involved through smart digital tools that record and display the reading and congratulate them for a good job, they will stay motivated.
This encouragement can be extended during patient-clinician consultation. In this manner, a patient is constantly engaged and stays motivated to be on track with health improvement, a preventive and promotive way of life.
Target patients to engage
All patients cannot be engaged. Only patients who are capable of making decisions for themselves can be activated for participating in the execution of their treatment or care plan. Most patients who are mentally challenged, face chronic ailments that reduce their ability to think or reason for too long, and are in a coma are examples of people who need external people to decide for them.
In such cases, the nearest relative or authorized person can make decisions for them. The target for engagement passes on to the one who takes decisions on behalf of a patient. The rest of the patient pool who can process the information related to their health and participate in discussions during consultations can be engaged for both ambulatory and critical cases through active involvement.
Strategies to optimize patient engagement
Patients are not aware of clinical and scientific terms related to medicine that may consist of physiological conditions, pathogens, disease-causing elements, treatment procedures, and drugs. It is necessary to break down this information into easily pliable bytes that can be processed even by a ten-year-old. It is not an easy job, and unless one has the knack to assess their patient’s understanding of their treatment plan, it is better to be carried out by a patient counselor.
Patient education exacerbates compliance and helps clinicians to motivate them for continuity. It aids with the advantage to comprehend diagnoses and the treatment options available to them. The trust in a patient-doctor relationship increases with patient education and results in better outcomes.
- Shared decisions
When patients are involved in critical decisions concerning their treatment and care, they feel accountable and view their care from a holistic perspective. Involving patients in selecting the options for the diagnostic tests and treatment procedure involves patient education which is an imperative step in decreasing the repeat admissions or recurrence of ailments.
- Access to technology
Telehealth and virtual care give varied options to engage patients through automation and digital tools. Whenever a patient forgets to walk or take medicine, alerts are sent from patient engagement platforms, and they can finish their schedule in time.
Patients are interested in improving their health and alleviating pain. Sometimes, they may take one-time shots to just reduce current symptoms and not continue with future disease management. However, engaging them through active methods will rekindle their interest to stay healthy.