Enabling Patient Engagement for Improved Care and Self-management

Robby Gupta

The healthcare industry is actively working towards improving patient care and service delivery. To provide high-quality service and achieve ideal health goals, the industry is constantly on the lookout for newer methods that enhance capabilities.

Innovative technologies, front-line procedures, and world-class therapeutics can definitely enable healthcare professionals to offer personalized and organized treatment, but they still lag when it comes to delivering care with the maximum patient engagement, a prerequisite for harnessing their maximum potential.

These techniques are good for overseeing basic illness but they cannot frequently offer the best results for individual treatment and care.

Improving care delivery with patient activation

Patient engagement is an essential aspect which relates to the patient’s participation in clinical care. The more interested a patient is in the treatment, the better the outcome will be achieved.

However, recently patient engagement has been replaced with patient activation. It has become a primary method of an effective treatment which is measured by an individual’s willingness to be involved in their own healthcare, competence to make informed decisions for better health, and understanding of their own treatment and procedures.

It is simply the patient’s own readiness to make decisions to manage their own health and understanding the crucial role they play by cooperating with the healthcare providers for the best possible healthcare outcomes.

While the healthcare provider can offer world-class facilities to their patients, the final decision to manage health relies on the patient himself.

Even one of the first experts on patient activation, Hubbard, says that Patient activation is based on the patient’s willingness to take independent and informed decisions that have a positive impact on their health.

He also expounds that patient activation is a part of patient engagement which expands actuation and encourages a patient’s behavior for preventive care & treatment.

In a 2012 article, Hubbard explained that patient well-being witness an improvement when they take responsibility to manage their own health. When this happens, it also leads to cost reduction as the patients now understand efficient processes by collaborating with the healthcare providers.

Activated patient identification

Each patient is activated at a different level and it is crucial to identify those patients who will form a part of the activation activity. A common tool to measure activation is the Patient Activation Measure (PAM), a 100 point scale to measure the activations levels of each patient.

It measures patients based on 6 primary abilities including self-management of illness, engaging in activities that reduce health decline, involvement in the treatment process, collaboration with providers, selecting providers, and journeying through the healthcare system.

The purpose of PAM is to collect the patient’s response and assess how involved they are in behaviour that drives patient engagement. Based on this assessment, healthcare professionals can make different strategies for patient activation that match patients at different levels.

Determining whether a patient is in the low or high activation zone enables providers to create simple or innovative patient engagement solutions based on the categories to advance patient care.

Educating patients about health

Without proper information about their condition, patients will not be able to manage their healthcare. They need to be well educated about health issues and must have proper knowledge of their medical history for effectively engaging in activation.

It is observed that patients with a low level of activation who were not properly aware of their medical conditions and treatments showed high levels of hypertension. It was primarily because of the inadequate information which makes patients skeptical about the treatment and hesitant towards engagement strategies.

Even the knowledge of basic information like BP level is enough in some cases to convince the patient and increase their level of activation in patient engagement solutions.

Patients must constantly interact with their healthcare providers to gather information about treatment options and ask them about the procedures that shall be carried out. This strategy is also helpful for patients with chronic diseases as it releases them from the burden of doubting their own treatment. It can also be utilized for educating patients on medication and preventive care.

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Decision-making for patients

While a majority of decisions are made by the healthcare providers, enabling patients to choose between different treatment paths can create a more patient-centric environment.

Shared decision-making is crucial because it empowers the patient and convinces them that the decision to undergo a particular procedure was as much theirs as the providers’.

It leads to an improvement in the well-being and health of the patient as they take responsibility for getting better treatment.

The 2018 study done by the American Journal of Surgery reflected that patients that had no say in decision-making encountered more hypertension than those who did. What’s interesting is that even when they had a say, meeting the standards of decision-making power became more crucial that the power itself. If the criteria weren’t met, the patient was still not satisfied.

Even though it sounds interesting and completely feasible, shared decision-making calls for restructuring the workflow and creating it around the patient. These patients need to have proper conversations with the professionals so that their preferences could be matched as much as possible and the treatment outcomes are improved.

External support to patients

One of the major strategies for patient engagement solutions is to keep the patients activated outside the clinical facilities. Healthcare professionals must frequently communicate with the patients to ensure their active participation in the engagement process.

External communication provides a personal touch of care to the patients allowing them to place their trust in the healthcare professional and involve better in self-management.

Follow-up and automated appointment scheduling have shown to improve patient activation as patients are ensured that the healthcare providers are concerned about their well-being and keep a proper check on their health conditions.

Interpersonal communication outside the clinic will also enable patients to collaborate with providers in a better way and motivate them to continue self-management of their health.

With the help of automation, patients can be offered simple ways to schedule an appointment, while also giving reminders for a check-up with routinely updates on their medications.

With patients increasingly becoming more concerned about their health, it is necessary that healthcare providers adopt healthy engagement strategies to maximize their participation in self-management.

TechJini is a leading healthcare solutions developer that can enable you to improve the patient experience by building innovative patient engagement solutions. Get in touch with us for a free consultation.

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about the author

Robby Gupta

Robby Gupta is the head of US operations for TechJini, Inc. He has had varied experiences working in New York, Cupertino, and Bangalore with packaged & amp; custom web and mobile app development for an assortment of industries. His current focus is Immersive Technologies, IoT, AI bots and their applications in the digital enterprise.