How To Choose the Right Patient Engagement Platform

Regardless of your healthcare subfield, patient engagement is a requisite for success. Technology is gradually changing the course of patient management, with digital interactions counting just as much as physical ones. 

In such a scenario, relying on an efficient patient engagement platform becomes paramount. Besides improving patient outcomes, an engagement platform also streamlines the patient journey and simplifies clinical workflows. 

However, the healthcare IT market is bigger than it ever was. There are plenty of healthcare patient engagement platforms out there. Which one do you choose? Below, we explain the process. 

The Importance of Patient Engagement Platforms in Healthcare

Healthcare practitioners need to understand that digital patient engagement strategies are the need of the hour. The healthcare industry is moving towards a more digital approach. Incorporating a patient engagement platform in your practice is a part of this process. 

Online review sites and Google My Business further mandate the need for such a platform. People rely increasingly on online reviews to decide who to choose as their healthcare provider. If you’re not engaging your patients with a comprehensive platform, you’ll lose out to competitors who are. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Patient Engagement Platform

We’ve established that patient engagement is a must-do. But how do you select the right platform? Here are a few factors to consider. 

Identify Your Practice’s Specific Needs and Goals

Keep in mind that your practice is different from every other organization out there, even if you operate in the same niche as them. You must identify the needs of your particular practice to find the right patient engagement platform. 

Suppose you’re a dermatology practice. Your needs will be different from those of a pediatric practice. Your patients won’t have the same expectations or requirements as theirs.

Here’s how to lay out your goals: 

Define Your Objectives

Why do you want to bring a patient engagement platform into the picture? Your objectives could be: 

  • Improve patient satisfaction 
  • Collect patient-reported outcomes data 
  • Promote self-management 
  • Encourage participation in clinical trials
  • Establish shared decision-making 
  • Empower patients to manage their health better

If you’re unsure about your goals, review your current patient population and assess their needs. Maybe even conduct a patient survey to find out what you can improve. 

Assess Your Current Patient Engagement Challenges

In the same vein, you can try and identify areas where you’re struggling to engage patients. 

Some common challenges are:  

  • Patients not showing up for follow-up appointments
  • Low patient satisfaction scores 
  • Poor medication adherence
  • Lack of participation in preventive care 

Let’s say you’re a cardiology practice. You find that patients aren’t adhering to their prescribed cardiac rehabilitation programs. Now, this becomes an objective for you to tackle with your patient engagement platform. 

For example, you can use the platform to send automated reminders to patients about their appointments and rehabilitation exercises. You may also provide educational materials on heart health. 

Compatibility With Your EHR/EMR System

As mentioned, most healthcare organizations and medical practitioners use an EHR (Electronic Health Record) or EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system. 

Patient records are among the most critical data in any healthcare setting. So, you must choose a patient engagement platform that lets you sync data with your EHR/EMR system. 

The Importance of Integration

Integrating your digital patient engagement platform with the EHR/EMR system allows you to see a holistic view of patient data. How? 

Suppose you’re a dental clinic. Your patients’ dental records are stored in your EHR system. When you integrate a patient engagement platform with your EHR, the platform can access the necessary documents. 

How does this help? 

One, you can identify patients due for a dental check-up and send them reminders through the patient engagement platform. Two, you can access patients’ previous dental histories. The information helps you create personalized treatment plans. 

The bottom line is that you want all your patient portals connected. It reduces data silos and maximizes the efficiency of your practice. You also save a lot of time. 

The Importance of Interoperability

Integration simply means that two systems can communicate with each other. Interoperability takes it a step further. It is the ability of different systems to exchange and use information seamlessly. 

Your dental practice has decided to host a virtual consultation session with patients through your patient engagement platform. You want to personalize this experience. 

From what we see in upcoming trends in marketing, ”hyper personalization” is the new norm. The more targeted your communication is, the more likely you retain patients. 

To personalize the virtual session, you need every patient’s dental information. This is where the interoperability of your patient engagement platform with the EHR comes in. 

You can use the data from the EHR to understand each patient’s dental history and tailor the virtual consultation accordingly. For example, if a patient has had a previous root canal, you may recommend a follow-up examination. 

Ease of Use and User-Friendliness

Your patient engagement platform should be user-friendly, not just for you but also for your patients. The whole point of patient engagement in healthcare is to make the patients’ lives easier. 

If your patient engagement platform is too hard to navigate or has a clunky interface, patients are less likely to use it. It’s a waste of your money and time. 

Also, disappointed patients might go online and leave negative feedback about your practice. The negative reviews could damage your practice’s reputation and deter potential patients. 

User Interface and Navigation

The platform you choose should make the patient experience a breeze. For that, it must have an easy-to-navigate interface. 

For example, the navigation bar should be clear and organized, with labels that are easy to understand. The overall design of the interface should be simple and clean, without any clutter or confusion. 

You can also include a search bar that patients can use to find what they need. Your patient engagement platform should also be mobile-responsive. Today, more than half the web traffic comes from mobile phones. The web version of your platform should be mobile-friendly. 

Also, look for a patient engagement platform with Android and iOS mobile apps. Patients often feel more comfortable using mobile apps than navigating through a website. Also, they can set notifications on mobile apps to remind them of appointments and other health-related tasks. 

Accessibility for Patients

We live in a time where accessibility features are prerequisites for any digital platform or website. The need for accessibility is even more pressing in healthcare organizations since patients with disabilities or impairments must be able to use these platforms. 

Select a platform with the appropriate accessibility features. Some of them include: 

  • Screen Reader Compatibility: Screen readers assist blind or visually impaired users in reading text on websites and digital platforms. Your patient engagement platform should support these devices. 
  • Adjustable Font Sizes: Font size adjustability is particularly important for practices that see senior patients or people with vision impairments. 
  • Voice Commands: The platform should also support voice commands. Patients who do not have fine motor skills or have temporary mobility issues should also be able to use the platform. 
  • Video Captions and Transcripts: Patients with hearing impairments will appreciate voice captions. Also, add transcripts for all your videos so these patients can read the content later. 

Security and Compliance

Reports from the HIPAA Journal show that 2023 was a disastrous year for patient medical record security. About 133 million patient records were stolen or exposed during the year. 

The number of breaches has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past few years. In 2022, the number stood at 51.9 million, an increase from 45.9 in 2021. 

Due to these breaches, patients have become wary of their health record security. They do not want to sign up for digital patient engagement platforms that seem shady or have a history of data breaches.

HIPAA Compliance

When looking for the right patient engagement platform for your practice, the first thing to keep in mind is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance. HIPAA is a set of rules that dictate how sensitive patient data should be handled. 

The goal of HIPAA is to ensure that patient medical information is confidential and secure at all times. A platform that complies with HIPAA guidelines is most likely secure. 

Patient security isn’t the only reason for selecting a HIPAA-compliant platform. Your practice’s reputation is also at stake. 

Suppose the platform you selected wasn’t HIPAA-compliant. A major security breach occurred, and hundreds of medical records were exposed. Patients find out, and a negative sentiment builds around your practice online. 

That’s a blow to your online reputation and can decrease patient trust and loyalty. You might have trouble acquiring new patients, and your current patients might even switch to a different practice. 

On top of that, legal implications could arise if a breach occurs due to your negligence in selecting a non-compliant platform. So, you won’t only lose money due to low patient retention but will also have to pay hefty fines. It’s a double disaster. 

Data Security Measures

HIPAA is just one aspect of patient medical record security. A patient engagement platform should also take other data security measures, such as: 

  • Access control (only authorized personnel can access patient information) 
  • Data backups (in case of system failures or breaches) 
  • Data encryption 

Make security measures a part of your selection criteria. When you narrow down your options and have initial consultations with potential platforms, inquire about their data security protocols. 

Customization and Scalability

It’s quite helpful if your selected patient engagement platform offers customization. Some platforms are specific to a certain field. You don’t want that. 

Instead, you need a patient engagement solution that caters to all your needs. For example, if you’re a larger medical practice, you may have multiple sub-specialties. Your platform should accommodate all of these. 

The patient engagement platform must also be scalable. Right now, you may only get 1,000 patients a month. Your chosen solution does a superb job of managing them. 

But imagine if your practice were to grow and you needed to cater to 10,000 patients a month. Or you may want to improve your patient outreach by offering telemedicine services. You also want to use the same tool to send patient surveys for feedback.  

Will the patient engagement platform be scalable enough to handle this growth? Ideally, it should. 

Patient Communication Features

An engagement platform might manage everything from the patient intake process to integrating medical records. But you also want it to make the patients feel involved. The following features help in this regard. 

Appointment Reminders

Select a platform with built-in appointment scheduling features. Your patients should be able to use it to schedule appointments and get reminders before they’re due. 

The tool should also let you customize these reminders based on the patient’s preferences, such as text messages or email. 

Two-Way Messaging

Sometimes, patients have questions that only the healthcare provider can answer. For example, if a patient is coming in for a scan, they might want to know how to prepare for it. 

A two-way messaging feature allows patients to send such questions directly to the provider. They can get real-time responses this way. It’s another way to amp up patient satisfaction since people don’t have to wait for calls or emails. 

Besides improving patient engagement, these features also take repetitive administrative tasks off your hands. You’re also making patients a part of their care journeys, fostering a sense of empowerment and putting them in control of their health. 

Patient Feedback and Surveys

Last but not least, your patient engagement solution should have feedback-collection capabilities. You must measure patient engagement metrics to see how well you fare in the eyes of your patients. 

Here are some patient engagement metrics to track: 

  • Patient Satisfaction Scores: You can use a 1 to 10 scale or a 1 to 5 scale for this metric. Ask your patients how satisfied they are with different aspects of their care, such as waiting times, staff friendliness, and so on. 
  • Patient Interactions: How often do patients interact with your platform? Interactions could be anything from scheduling an appointment to checking test results. 
  • Patient Churn: You can measure this by tracking how many patients you lose over a period of time. 
  • Number of Messages: Track the number of messages patients have sent to healthcare providers. 
  • Number of Appointments Scheduled: The more, the better. Also, track how many appointments were kept and canceled. 

Most healthcare digital tools have analytics dashboards where you can measure certain metrics. Along with the dashboard, you should be able to send personalized feedback surveys to your patients. 

For example, you can send a survey after each appointment. Similarly, you may collect feedback after specific events, such as an emergency room visit or a hospital discharge.

Learn more about our patient engagement platform

Learn more about important features such as online booking, two-way texting, appointment reminders, and more with Demandforce.

Keep Your Patients Coming Back With Demandforce

While plenty of platforms offer individual patient engagement features, it’s hard to find one that has it all. Demandforce is one such solution with its range of features, from appointment scheduling and automated appointment reminders to online reputation management. 

You can also communicate with your patients through the platform through email marketing and bulk texting. As for appointment management, you can access features like two-way texting, appointment hot lists, recall reminders, and mobile check-ins. 

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