Strong provider-patient relationships are a win-win for the patient and the provider. There are all kinds of benefits associated with healthcare organizations promoting patient engagement—better patient experiences, higher safety records and better financial margins for the healthcare organizations. Patient engagement—and strong provider-patient relationships—are a cornerstone for successful healthcare organizations; one study found that three primary factors in patient loyalty were patient confidence in physician, coordination between care-team members and physicians taking a personal interest in the patient’s well-being. If healthcare organizations foster a culture of patient engagement, patients are likely to return, helping organizations to achieve their goals—whether in terms of better health outcomes, safety measurements or financial returns.

But what is patient engagement and how can healthcare organizations achieve it? Patient engagement involves successfully incorporating patients, family members and caregivers into their plan of care; it requires participation at an individual level, at a health care team level in terms of collaboration between the care team and patients and families, and at the organizational level in terms of incorporating the patient and family experience into strategic planning, implementation and evaluation.

At the crux of it, patient engagement is about communication, ensuring an information flow between patients and caregivers – flow being the key word – meaning two-way collaboration with input from the patient. It is also about ensuring efficiency and ease for patients equaling a better overall experience. This includes everything from appointment scheduling and reminders, to check-in, to discussions during, between and after appointments and better inclusion in the entire care plan. The rise of Mobile Health and other healthcare technology has been hugely helpful in terms of fostering patient engagement. A key tool to enhance HIPAA compliant communications is secure text messaging.

These days, people communicate daily via text—after all, it’s hugely convenient. However standard SMS messaging does not equal secure text messaging therefore healthcare organizations must utilize secure messaging apps in order to conform with HIPAA and share personal health information. Enterprise-grade secure messaging apps and platforms can be used in a variety of ways when it comes to ensuring advanced patient engagement that provides the personalized, detailed and two-way communications that patients expect. These include:

  • · automated appointment reminders with details about the reason for the appointment
  • · provide follow up information to patients with the ability to ask questions
  • · reminders to take medications including dosage and medication names
  • · reminders to refill medications or medical supplies including amounts, names, dosage etc.
    • · convenient way for patients to reach out to their healthcare providers with any concerns or questions
  • · easily provide education or motivation about a diagnosis to help keep patient engaged in care plan
  • · send reminders for well-being, self-care and annual check ups
  • · provide copay information prior to an appointment
  • · provide discharge or follow-up instructions after procedures to avoid readmission or reoccurrence of symptoms

Using an enterprise-grade secure messaging app to improve patient engagement can increase patient satisfaction and is financially advantageous for healthcare organizations. One estimate found that a practice with 6,000 patients that automates medical appointment reminders can save $375/month and $3,000 a month by releasing their staff from having to provide general patient information over the phone.

The tool a healthcare organization uses for its HIPAA compliant communications matters. Enteprise-grade secure messaging platforms like Vaporstream replicate the look and feel of SMS messaging while remaining HIPAA compliant. In addition, healthcare providers can personalize and automate series of medical texts based on events or time (such as appointment or medication reminders for patients) and share sensitive information without having to worry about the risk of PHI being exposed. To learn more about Vaporstream’s unique solution for healthcare organizations wanting to embrace patient engagement and secure text messaging, schedule a demo today.

Contributor: Kristi Perdue Hinkle