COVID-19 put more emphasis on patient engagement than ever before—a focus that won’t go away in 2021. In the face of a global pandemic, healthcare providers, hospitals and health systems evolved how they interacted with patients—all while continuing to deliver quality care and a superb patient experience.
While so much changed in 2020, one universal truth remains: Information is power and engaged patients have better outcomes. After this unprecedented year, what can we expect for patient engagement in 2021? Here are our four predictions.
1. Virtual health offers valuable engagement opportunities
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became a safe alternative to in-person visits. However, it wasn’t long before patients could safely return to the doctor’s office. Today, telehealth has leveled off and in-office patient traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels in most specialties.
In 2021, we see healthcare providers adopting a blend of in-person and virtual health to maximize patient engagement. And virtual health isn’t just telehealth. Telehealth is just one component of a much larger remote care management (RCM) strategy that also includes check-in surveys and remote patient monitoring (RPM).
By utilizing both in-person consultations and virtual health tactics, healthcare providers can offer a more comprehensive approach to care for more consistent patient engagement and connection. For example, while a provider may see a type 2 diabetes patient every three months for an in-person check-in, she may leverage virtual health tools like surveys on a weekly basis to monitor the patient’s health and schedule telehealth follow-ups as necessary.1
2. Remote patient monitoring takes off as an engagement tool
2020 reminded us of the value of connection, which is at the heart of remote patient monitoring (RPM). RPM keeps healthcare providers and patients connected through the use of at-home, wireless technology to monitor high-risk and chronic care patients’ health.
With 60 percent of American adults living with a chronic disease and 40 percent living with two or more chronic conditions, we see great potential for RPM to facilitate improved outcomes in 2021 and beyond—and so do patients. In a recent Sony mSafety™ survey of people with chronic conditions, 90% of respondents said they believe a remote monitoring device could help them better manage their condition.
By equipping patients with devices that record and send health data back to healthcare practices, healthcare professionals can leverage data to quickly intervene, triage or refer patients to specialized care to reduce hospital admissions and improve outcomes.
At-home monitoring also breaks down barriers to care such as transportation and affordability with turnkey technology that is easy for patients and practices to use. In addition, CMS has made it easier for practices to get reimbursed for Remote Patient Monitoring services in 2021.
3. Patient education matters more than ever
It comes as no surprise that Google searches beginning with “why” were higher in 2020 than ever before: The unprecedented year was marked with an insatiable appetite for information, particularly about health.
While 2021 will bring mass vaccinations, we see patients remaining interested in and vigilant about their health for the long run. This presents great opportunity for healthcare providers (not Dr. Google!) to reinforce their role as patients’ primary source of specialty-specific patient education both within and beyond the four walls of their practice or facility.
Within the office, in 2021 we see more practices like TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track utilizing educational video content on waiting room TVs and interactive exam room touchscreens to better engage and inform patients. Leveraging screens throughout their practices has allowed the Tampa-based urgent care chain to showcase “informative, educational and useful content specific to the urgent care setting,” says project manager Erin Kearney.
Beyond the office, we see healthcare providers increasingly offering tailored education throughout the virtual health experience—from pre-appointment scheduling to telehealth visits to remote monitoring.
4. Patient experience gains additional importance
Healthcare practices, hospitals and health systems must see patients as healthcare consumers who have many choices. As every industry becomes more focused on delivering personalized, on-demand services, healthcare will become more focused on patient experience in 2021.
This approach requires providers to view each interaction in the care journey as an opportunity to create a consistent and engaging patient experience. Whether it’s a like on a Facebook post, a smooth wait time or a quality doctor-patient engagement, each step is important. And the journey begins long before a patient sets foot in a healthcare practice or enters a virtual health consultation—it begins online. Making it easy for patients to quickly and easily learn more about your healthcare providers, locations and services on your website, search engines and online listings sets the tone for a positive patient experience.
In any industry, a satisfied customer is the best form of marketing. When healthcare practices, hospitals and health systems design and replicate positive patient experiences across the care journey, they will attract and retain patients.
Let PatientPoint Power Your 2021 Patient Engagement Strategy
Finalizing your 2021 patient engagement strategy? Our end-to-end patient engagement solutions—spanning from the office to online to the virtual care space and beyond—can help. Contact us to get started.
1Sermo: Current Trends in Point of Care Education Fielded: Oct 2020