Take Five: How Therapists Can Improve Patient Engagement and Outcomes
Active patient engagement in their health is key to better outcomes, higher satisfaction and lower costs. Yet, it can be a challenge. How do you encourage patients to take a more active role in their own health without adding more to your busy schedules? Here are five simple ways you can partner with your patients and encourage them to get more involved in their care.
- Actively listen.
When a patient is initially seen by a therapist, they are often in pain, vulnerable and frightened about their future function and well-being. Listening without distractions is a key to developing trust and open communication – the content, intent and feelings of your patient. It involves showing interest verbally with questions and non-verbally with eye contact and other visual cues that show you know the patient has something important to say. This shows respect, and enables you to understand their priorities so you can create an accurate initial evaluation that meets their goals and lifestyle needs.
- Collaborate on the plan of care. Don’t dictate.
Research shows that most people want a partnership with their healthcare providers. This collaboration is essential to the success of the care plan. Brainstorm on the plan of care, set goals and expectations together and make it simple. Your patients will be more invested and engaged with a plan of care that they helped to create. This engagement, in turn, should lead to a better patient experience and outcomes.
- Spend more time on patient education
The leading reason that people do not adhere to their plan of care is that they do not understand the importance of it, according to a Clinicient survey. It is very important that you spend a great deal of time communicating and educating patients about their plan of care and what they can do individually to drive their own recovery.
- Empower patients to further their own recovery
Patients who are actively engaged in their treatment have better recoveries. Make this easier for them with tools that help them feel in control and accountable. This can include printing copies of their initial plan of care, online or video based home exercise programs, wearables and mobile apps.
- Remove the administrative roadblocks that get between you and your patients.
If you are spending the majority of your time on documentation and administrative work, you are not giving patients the quality time they need and deserve. Identify ways you can be more proficient with your electronic documentation. Work with your manager to problem solve around administrative processes that distract from patient care. Work as a team to promote optimal operational systems which minimize time and energy to treating clinicians.
- Bonus tip: Follow up throughout treatment and after discharge.
Want to keep your patient engaged in improving their health and quality of life? Establish a process for regular communication before, during and after a patient has discharged or discontinued care. Task management tools, surveys and other follow up strategies can make this easy and will help to establish and maintain long-term patient relationships.