Exploring the topic in the article “Beyond Patient Engagement: How to Effectively Partner with Patients to Optimize Care” for Medical Economics, Jason Burum, vice president and general manager of the healthcare provider segment of Clinical Effectiveness at Wolters Kluwer, Health, writes that interaction between healthcare providers and patients must be authentic in order to “build trust at every touchpoint.”
Therefore, communication with patients — whether through patient education materials or multimedia patient engagement tools — must emulate “the nurturing experience of a clinical professional who listens with empathy and responds without judgement.”
Burum proposes that there are five steps to achieving partnership with a patient:
The first step to helping a patient better understand their condition is providing accessible patient education materials and discharge instructions. This may seem basic, but it’s an opportunity to meet patients where they are and speak to them in a language they understand. This requires materials that are easy for providers to use as well as relatable for patients, accessible to a wide variety of demographic groups and health literacy levels.
Effective engagement deepens understanding of overall health and wellness and motivates patients to take a greater role in their health. But, Burum explains, it must be a personalized and inclusive experience for the patient. And that means addressing concerns around socioeconomic status, culture, race, gender, or sexual orientation that if left unaddressed could marginalize patients or create unnecessary barriers to care.
At this stage, a better-informed patient who is engaged with their provider is more likely to seek services such as wellness exams and screenings.
Providers can take advantage of technological advances, like virtual visits and digital services, to promote adherence, and Burum says, “facilitate the transition from transactional to longitudinal care.”
Partner with patients
Partnership with a patient is aspirational, but not impossible. Burum notes that every organization’s approach to whole-person care may differ based on current initiatives, patient demographics, and other factors.
These five steps may be the path to help drive sustained behavior change, but every journey starts with the first, and sometimes, most important step.
“Patient education has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of the care experience,” Burum writes. “Provider organizations must build trust through purposefully designed, evidence-based solutions that complement the in-person care experience.”