Patient engagement is now an evidence-based solution to successfully address clinical and financial challenges in healthcare. When patients are empowered to be active participants in their health, they make better choices and lead healthier lives – so everybody wins, right?
The answer of course is yes but, a healthcare organizations’ success could be further improved by viewing patient engagement as more than just a service business. After all, hospitals and health systems can do more than just provide for their customers – they can also receive.
Many organizations stop patient engagement short – conducting it as a one-way conversation. Do you need something? I can provide it. Need more information? Let me tell you. Scheduling an appointment? Great, just one moment.
But, as said by Molly Gamble of Becker’s Hospital Review, organizations need to treat “patients not only as recipients of care, but as trusted sources of feedback and input.” Patients are more than end-users – they are underutilized members of your quality team and the foundation of successful, contemporary care delivery.
You may have expertise in healthcare administration or care delivery… but patients provide a lens you can’t see – what it’s like looking in. They’re not drinking your kool-aid. They’re objective third-party participants that can tell you what’s helpful, what isn’t and how far you have to come. And the value of their input extends far beyond standardized questions on an HCAHPS survey.
For example, medication adherence is a continuous challenge in healthcare and, while businesses exist solely to improve medication education and create ways of reminding patients to be adherent with their medicine regiments, Boehring Ingelheim - a research-driven pharmaceutical company – took matters into their own hands, collecting feedback from patients themselves about what might be standing in the way. Through research, Boehring Ingelheim found patients were experiencing difficulty opening blister cards of pills. Because of this, they sought to improve how medication could be opened, which would make it simpler for the end-user to be adherent.
"We needed to change to bottles that they can actually open," said Karen Iannella, executive director patient advocacy and stakeholder relations for Boehringer Ingelheim. “We are focused on patient engagement in order to help us build better products and services that better address patient needs.”
Additionally, Boehring Ingelheim has leveraged its customers to improve clinical trials – changing protocols that will help increase participation, adherence and trial completion.
Said simply – you don’t have to hire researchers, attend conferences or round tables or even invest in technology to start improving your business success – you can leverage the people sitting in your waiting rooms and living in your communities.
For instance, through a community assessment, a Midwestern health system was able to identify an area where diabetes metrics were especially poor. It partnered with a church in that community to come on site and provide guidance for proper diabetes care to patients. With this approach, the system saw improvements in both patient compliance and outcomes because patients were better able to care for themselves. A success story that was dependent on acquiring and leveraging patient feedback.
As hospitals and health systems consider how to improve processes, they can start by leveraging the largest, least expensive source of information at their disposal – patients themselves.
Next week, our Executive Director of Patient Engagement, Geri Lynn Baumblatt will go further to discuss how patient perceptions of care can be used to improve expectation management.
Until then, share with us – how has your organization solicited patient feedback to improve processes and outcomes?