How To Choose a Patient Engagement Solution for Your PracticePosted: December 15, 2022 - By Health Dev
Patient engagement software is essential in today’s healthcare environment. Studies suggest that patients who are engaged with their providers are more likely to follow through with their treatment and have positive health outcomes. For example, unengaged patients are three times more likely to have unmet medical needs.
Solutions like patient engagement software help healthcare providers automate and improve communication with patients. As a result, patients can make informed decisions about their care and have easy and timely access to their providers without delaying necessary treatments.
If you’re unsure how to choose a patient engagement solution suited for your practice, keep reading. In this article, we detail why you should consider a patient engagement solution and include tips for choosing the right software.
Why Your Practice Should Consider a Patient Engagement Solution
Patient engagement solutions aren’t just beneficial for the patient; they also simplify most of the provider’s everyday operations. This includes accessibility, transparency, and communication.
Nowadays, patients prioritize their inclusion and consent in every medical decision in their health journey. Patient engagement software offers a streamlined way for patients to stay included and informed every step of the way.
Patient engagement solutions include virtual care centers, telehealth visit options, mobile apps, access to educational resources, artificial intelligence (AI) data management, and 24/7 online chat options. Here’s why your practice should consider such a solution.
Improves the Patient Experience and Patient Care
To start with, a patient engagement solution improves the patient experience and the care they receive. There’s no doubt that patients want flexible care options, and patient engagement is the best way to provide that.
The healthcare landscape has changed, especially after COVID-19, alongside the wants and needs of patients. Patients are now demanding more controland involvement in their care and experience. Patient engagement solutions improve the patient experience by providing transparent, fast, and responsive access.
Patients with chronic illnesses can benefit from transparency and accessibility. Patient engagement software can eliminate the risk of delayed treatment, worsened conditions, and higher medical costs. These costs are harmful to both the provider and the patient.
Patient engagement software helps providers guarantee a better patient experience, keeping patients engaged, healthy, and loyal. These solutions also reduce the number of phone calls, office visits, and unnecessary hospital stays, which can be especially helpful after the COVID-19 burnout.
Simplifies Appointment Scheduling
Since it became possible, 50% of patients have expected their providers to have digital platforms. Why? Because a non-digitized healthcare system doesn’t feel accessible anymore. Patients want to make emergency appointments with their care team without having to make calls or visit offices.
Patient engagement solutions save time on both ends by eliminating long wait times while patients are redirected to other departments. This is a fast-evolving world where patients want care on their terms, not based on when their provider is available. A patient engagement solution provides 24/7 availability and care regardless of office hours, making for a more accessible healthcare system.
With features like automated appointment reminders using text, voice, and email, patients and providers can stay on track with their schedules. In addition, providers can create virtual patient waiting rooms by using appointment reminders, digital experiences for registration and check-in, and two-way chat.
Moreover, healthcare apps allow patients to track their medical records and outcomes and stay informed throughout their health journey.
Customizes the Patient Journey
Regardless of the industry, customers want a customized experience. This is true for healthcare as well.
Customizing the patient journey increases the chances of satisfied patients who will consult you again when they need care. Automated appointment reminders, surveys, and targeted secure messaging can help providers customize the patient journey. Easy cancellation options can also help your practice cut back on no-shows. These digital patient engagement tools support patients between visits and throughout the patient journey.
Providers often have to deal with an endless list of patients, which can become a challenge to manage without an effective patient engagement solution. For example, digitizing patient records, consent forms, and patient profiles can boost care team productivity and engagement.
Tips for Choosing the Right Patient Engagement Software
If your practice is new to patient engagement, picking the right solution can be hard. It’s worth noting that these solutions are rarely one-size-fits-all; you’ll need to find one that suits your practice.
Here are some tips that can help you choose the right patient engagement solution.
1. Set a Budget Before Researching
Setting a budget is the first step to finding a patient engagement solution appropriate for your practice. Different types of solutions can have different costs.
For example, off-the-shelf patient engagement software is available through subscriptions, costing anywhere from $19 to $499 per month. This software may focus on online appointment scheduling, e-prescription, or real-time communication with patients. There’s no additional budget to consider with such software, as they handle all your operations for you.
If you opt for a content management system (CMS)-based patient engagement software, it may cost you between $2,000 and $5,000 to build a custom WordPress plugin. If you require extended functionality for your plugin, it may cost an additional $20,000. Finally, a cumbersome plugin with in-depth analysis can cost up to $45,000.
There are many types of patient engagement solutions, so remember to do your research and create a budget based on what suits your practice best.
2. Ensure the Platform Has All the Features You Need
When you’ve narrowed down some patient engagement solutions based on your budget, you can further simplify the decision by ensuring that the platform has all the features you need. The software’s main purpose is to boost care team productivity and improve digital patient experiences.
This is only possible with the help of automation features, digital patient records, consent forms, patient profiles, appointment reminders, digital registration and check-in, and two-way chat. If you’re unsure what to look for in patient engagement software, here are some features that can benefit a provider and their patients.
Automated Appointment Reminders
An automated appointment reminder system is a crucial patient engagement software feature. This feature facilitates time management for patients and also reduces no-shows.
Automated appointment reminders enable providers to ensure that a patient never misses their appointment with reminders sent via email, text, and voice calls. A good patient engagement software will also include options to confirm, reschedule, or cancel appointments.
Offering a variety of reminder types helps providers customize the patient experience. For example, most healthcare apps offer save-the-date, pre-appointment, day-of, and follow-up reminders, allowing customization for specific procedures and appointment types.
Convenient Patient Scheduling
Patients often demand healthcare software because of its convenience. Patient engagement software helps eliminate the long phone calls and unnecessary office visits involved in appointment scheduling.
Traditional appointment scheduling is troublesome for providers too, making it hard to manage the whos and whens of their schedule. Patient engagement software can facilitate convenient patient scheduling with features like mobile check-ins, appointment hotlists, and two-way patient messaging.
For example, mobile check-ins create a virtual waiting room so that patients can wait their turn in the safety of their cars. This helps providers reduce the number of people in their waiting room, and patients can check their appointments via text.
Without leaving their car, patients can also fill out any intake forms, including a COVID-19 screening form. Then, when it’s time for their appointment, patients receive a notification that the care team is ready to see them.
Custom Patient Portals
Managing an endless list of patients drastically decreases care team productivity. This is why a custom patient portal is a must-have feature for a good patient engagement solution. These portals facilitate more meaningful relationships between patients and providers, improving the healthcare experience.
With such a feature, patients can easily sign up, access their past and upcoming appointments, and confirm any new appointment requests directly from their portal.
Providers can also communicate with their patients and share files in the portal. That includes digital forms for new patient intake, prescription refills, and more to help expedite visits.
Using a patient engagement solution for your practice’s reputation management is essential. That includes publishing reviews on the sites that matter most to your practice. A good patient engagement software includes automated review requests, allowing patients to discuss their experience with your practice.
Then the software publishes these reviews directly to Google, which can increase your Google My Business rating. Providers can decide which websites they want their reviews to go to, such as WebMD, Google, or Facebook.
Moreover, patient engagement software alerts providers whenever a patient publishes a review, responding instantly with one of the Suggested Replies or a custom reply for your practice. These solutions simplify reputation management by providing in-depth dashboards to maintain a competitive advantage. Providers can use these actionable insights to determine how to improve their online reputation further.
Post-appointment patient surveys are a feature every patient engagement solution should have, as it helps both the patient and the provider. Patients can discuss their experience with the care team and detail any areas for improvement that the provider can learn from and improve their practice accordingly.
Most patient engagement platforms offer this feature in Satisfaction Surveys, showing clients you care by automatically sending a survey after each appointment and boosting patient satisfaction. This way, providers can gain insights on how to improve their service with standard and customizable questions.
These questions may include:
- Was it easy to schedule a convenient appointment?
- Was your waiting time reasonable?
- Would you return to our practice in the future?
- How would you rate the cleanliness of our facility?
- Was our care team sensitive to your needs?
3. Research and Read Reviews From Other Practices
If the patient engagement software of your choice checks all these boxes regarding helpful features, you can move on with the decision. That said, patient engagement apps can claim to be your one-stop solution for all your healthcare digitization needs, but that doesn’t always end up being the case.
To avoid a disappointing patient experience, it’s best to do more research and read online reviews from other practices. It’s always good to give younger businesses a chance. However, it’s not a good sign if the patient engagement solution only has a few reviews and clients.
Here are a few green flags to look for while reading reviews from other practices:
- 24/7 patient support
- Real-time patient communication
- Sentiment analysis technology for personal attention
- Multilingual support
- Automated appointment reminders
- Intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface
- Simple portal enrollment
- Easy employee adoption
- EMR integration
- Intelligent chatbot functionality
4. Narrow Your Options and Compare Costs
Reading reviews will help you narrow your options even more, so you can compare the last three to five options. A few influential factors to help you decide are the costs, estimated time saved, and employee adoption.
The main purpose of patient engagement software is to eliminate the hidden costs of not having such a solution in place. That includes diminished patient flows and rising healthcare expenses. If a patient engagement software costs more than what you’re already paying monthly, it’s simply not worth it.
Luckily, there are a lot of affordable patient engagement solutions that don’t compromise on quality and functionality. A custom-built patient engagement solution starts at around $50,000, while a CMS-based patient engagement software starts from $2,000. In addition, off-the-shelf patient engagement software is available at monthly subscriptions.
5. Choose the Solution That Fits Your Medical Practice
Finally, it’s time to choose the best solution for your medical practice. The scale of your practice significantly affects the type of patient engagement solution you should opt for. For example, off-the-shelf patient engagement software is best suited for small practices with up to 10 doctors and limited initial funds or independent practitioners. This is the fastest solution from order to deployment, and providers don’t get ownership of their platform.
On the other hand, custom-built patient engagement solutions are best for practices that need a quick solution without overpaying, with no immediate expansion plans.
Lastly, custom-built patient engagement solutions are for practices that can pull off a significant initial investment and have rigid workflows that can’t be easily adapted.