The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was a major event for healthcare practices of all kinds. Orthopedics were no exception. Many physicians and clinics were forced to either close their doors, heavily remodel their practice locations, or make the switch to virtual patient visits using telemedicine solutions.
Curious about Telemedicine? Check out Phoenix Ortho’s InTeleMed Guide!
The lasting impact of the pandemic has created new challenges for orthopedic practices. One such challenge is finding ways to increase patient engagement and satisfaction in a post-pandemic world where many interactions are now virtual instead of in-person.
What is patient engagement, really? Why are medical practices looking to increase patient engagement now? Should it be a bigger priority than patient satisfaction? Most importantly, how can your orthopedic practice increase patient engagement?
What Is Patient Engagement?
The term “patient engagement” is sometimes confused with “patient satisfaction.” However, there is a significant difference between the two terms.
Where patient satisfaction centers on how happy a patient is with the quality of care they receive from a provider, patient engagement is a measure of how actively the patient manages their health.
Why Patient Engagement Should Be Important to Your Orthopedic Practice
Because High Patient Engagement Can Increase Business
While patient satisfaction will always be important for getting patients to come back to the orthopedic practice for future visits, patient engagement is important because it helps ensure that the patient will continue to proactively seek care when they need it.
Because Engaged Patients Will Share More (and More Accurate) Information
Another element in the drive to increase patient engagement may be the increased awareness of public health risks—and the newfound willingness of patients to share critical health information.
According to a survey by Deloitte, “During the pandemic, our study showed an increase in consumer willingness to share data in every scenario measured.” This follows a drop during the 2018 to 2020 period when data privacy concerns caused many patients to refuse to share sensitive information.
Increased patient-reported health information makes it easier to provide high-quality care and avoid the risks of attempting treatment with imperfect data.
Because Engaged Patients Are Less Likely to Skip Appointments
Another benefit of having high patient engagement rates is that engaged patients are less likely to cancel or skip an appointment once it’s set. These more informed patients understand the importance of follow-up care after a major operation.
This not only helps save orthopedic physicians time (as they don’t have to delay for no-shows), it can help patients realize a higher quality of care by allowing orthopedists to provide post-op care. This increased care quality can, in turn, lead to higher patient satisfaction that keeps the patient coming back for more care in the future.
3 Patient Engagement Strategies for Your Orthopedic Practice to Use
1. Be Open and Transparent with Patients
According to a study by Accenture, “Younger generations are ‘dissatisfied’ and ‘very dissatisfied’ with aspects of traditional care.” This includes both “Gen Z” and “Millennials.”
In fact, the report states that 32% of Gen Z and 12% of Millennials are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of treatment. Furthermore, 23% of Gen Z and 13% of Millennials are frustrated with the transparency of care (such as being told which tests or treatments they’re getting and why).
A patient who doesn’t trust in the effectiveness of their treatment or know the reasons behind specific operations is less likely to be engaged. So, a key patient engagement solution is to be open and transparent with patients.
Take the time to speak with each patient about what tests or treatments you plan to conduct and offer to explain how they help that patient. This can help keep the patient informed so they better understand and appreciate the care being provided.
2. Send Reminder Emails and Additional Health Information
Care doesn’t stop once a patient visit is over. Sending additional information to the patient explaining any conditions they might have, tips for coping, and reminders about upcoming appointments can help to keep the patient engaged with their own care.
Simple emails with downloadable brochures or lists of tips can be a great way to follow up after a visit to keep healthcare top of mind for them. Orthopedic physicians can also send updates to treatment plans and other important information (within HIPAA restrictions) via email to ensure patients remain in the know regarding their care.
Going this extra step can also help keep the practice top of mind for patients after their visit—encouraging them to return to the clinic for more care in the future.
3. Leverage Telehealth Technology to Increase Patient Engagement
New technology tools have given physicians new ways to engage with patients and offer services. Telemedicine solutions, such as Phoenix InTeleMed, allow orthopedic physicians to conduct virtual patient visits while removing some of the barriers to providing healthcare (like driving to the clinic for an in-person diagnosis).
The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a major shift in the way that patients pursue healthcare services, driving the adoption of telehealth solutions. While this technology can help clinics increase collections, save time, and reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases, it can also help increase patient engagement.
A telehealth app can be a key patient engagement solution since it makes communicating with patients about their care even easier. The increased opportunity for more “touch” points provided by telehealth helps orthopedic physicians keep patients engaged with care so they keep coming back for more treatment.
These are just a few of the ways that a clinic can increase patient engagement to drive more business (and help more patients achieve better outcomes). If you’re ready to transform the way your orthopedic practice manages its patient workflows to save time, effort, and mouse clicks, reach out to the Phoenix Ortho team today!