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How can we optimize patient engagement for the good of our patients, our team, and our Center? This question is receiving more attention as health care practices assume more accountability for patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. On this page we provide best practice ideas from the field and from CHC Leadership Institute members.
In 2017 we surveyed participants in the 2016-2017 CHC Learning Program about best practices for optimizing patient engagement. Here are seven ideas for optimizing patient engagement …..
- 1. Care Management Screening: Utilizing care management screenings has been a great way to engage new patients. When patients come in to register for . services they participate in a care management screening which includes consumer education on all services we offer and identification of specific additional services from which they may benefit.
- 2. New Patient Information Packets: We provide new patient packets to all new patients which contains information to help the patient be more informed and engaged in their healthcare. The packet includes a form to help the patient prepare for their visit which includes documenting symptoms and/or questions, medications (prescribed and over-the-counter), and outside medical appointments.
- 3. Patient Portal: We have a patient portal embedded in our EHR. For the past year we have been actively encouraging patients to sign up for access to the patient portal to provide more avenues for secure exchange of information. Via the patient portal, patients can leave direct messages for their doctor or nurse, request medication refills and appointments without the frustration of waiting on hold over the phone. Thus far, a good portion of our patients have adopted the use of the portal.
- 4. Small Group Education and Support: Recently, we started a weight loss support group in conjunction with senior services. The group meets weekly for an hour and is led by an LCSW. There have been some good successes in the group.
- 5. Appointment Reminders: Our staff has focused on consistent appointment reminders by phone call and EHR electronic reminders. This approach has helped us improve patient engagement and reduce no-shows.
- 6. Walk-In Clinic: We have established daily walk in clinic where patients are able to walk in and be seen by a medical provider. The walk-in clinic has allowed more flexibility for our patients and limits the number of no shows some of our providers experience. Patients have expressed that they like knowing that if they really need to be seen, someone will be available to care for them that same day.
- 7. Person-Centered Care. 1) Asking patients to set a goal regarding a chronic health condition and reviewing that goal at each visit as appropriate has helped us engage patients in their care plan. 2) Our favorite way to engage patients is to ask them what they like to do in their free time? Patients love talking about their hobbies or things they are passionate about. Once they open like that, it makes the rest of the visit much smoother!
- 8. Patient Advisory Council; We conduct a Patient Advisory Council meeting quarterly, which gives patients an opportunity to learn more about the services offered at the CHC, hear the results of our clinics quality activities, and participate in an open dialogue regarding services and their experiences.
- 9. Patient Focus Groups: We conduct a focus group at each of our sites every 6 months. To do this, our Center Manager pulls a list of 50 randomly selected patients. She calls the patients to ask them if they would be interested in coming to their center to provide feedback on what is, or is not working and how we can better serve our customers. Once we have at least 6 patients willing to participate, we set up a meeting with the selected patients and the Center Manager, Chief Operation Officer, and Center Nurse Manager. Meetings are held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. A small gift is given to each patient with business cards, brochures for dental and medical services, and provider directory. After the meetings, the Center Manager sends out a thank-you to each participant. Several questions are asked to the group and the information is taking back to the Center Leadership team and the customer satisfaction committee. Here is a list of some of the topics discussed:
- Were you satisfied with your last visit?
- Would you recommend this center to friends and family?
- Were you offered exceptional customer service?
- Do you consider our clinic your medical home? (Your medical/dental home is the place you most go for medical/dental care and rely on for services such as physicals, prescriptions, health education, etc.)
- Do clinic hours of operations meet your needs?
- Ease of scheduling appointment
- Convenience of clinic location
- Promptness of return phone calls
- Wait time in the waiting room and exam rooms
- Wait time for test results
- Provider: Takes enough time with you and gives you good advice
- Staff: Friendly and helpful to you
- Payment: Explanation of charges and collection of payment/money
- Facility: Neat and clean building / Comfort and safety while waiting / Privacy
- Keeping personal information private
- What do you like best about your center?
- What do you like least about your center?
- If you use our sliding fee program, does the fee that you pay prevent you from getting healthcare?
- Suggestions for improvement
The AMA STEPS Forward project provides best practice modules on multiple topics related to patient engagement, including the following.
Additional articles with Practice Tips:
- The CAHPS Ambulatory Care Improvement Guide: Practical Strategies for Improving Patient Experience (AHRQ)
- How to Optimize Patient Portals for Patient Engagement and Meet Meaningful Use Requirements (HealthIT.gov)
- Patient Engagement Playbook (HealthIT.gov)
- Patient Satisfaction/Experience Surveys and Patient Activation/Engagement Resources (Community Health Association of the Mountain/Plains States)
- PRAPARE Implementation and Action Toolkit (NACHC)