There are many ways the NHS can encourage patients to be more active participants in their own healthcare, which is proven to improve their experience and enhance outcomes in one fell swoop. Empowering them with inclusive and easy to use digital tools is a crucial part of this planning process, so we have compiled a few suggestions which will enable patients to get more involved and confident in participating in their care journey.
Patient empowerment checklist:
Patient-centric care: Healthcare can no longer take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Personalising that care to suit people’s preferences is essential to developing an organisations reputation and reliability, and giving patients multiple channels get in touch means no one will be left behind. This inevitably then builds confidence and trust between people and their care provider, whilst supporting them with digital adoption at their own pace.
Patient engagement tech: Providing useful technology, including personalised patient portals and appointment scheduling tools, puts patients in the driving seat (or at least the co-driver seat!) and enables 24/7 access to consultation info, test results, health correspondence and much more. This allows patient to take control of their health concerns digitally, the way they manage most other aspects of their lives in 2021.
Remote care: Remote monitoring can clearly help to prevent and manage health issues through data being continuously assessed and triggered if concerns arise. Remote care can also help to engage patients with their long term or chronic conditions by working towards their own goals when it comes to self-reporting and self-care interventions through wearable devices.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Give your patients the option to avoid long call queues or waiting for office hours with a 24/7 online chatbot. This stops patients from seeking advice from unreliable sources through online searches and instead provides consistently correct info, empowering them to make their own decisions based on facts.
Video consultations: Virtual appointments have seen a sharp rise over the past year due to the pandemic, but the benefits will be needed long after healthcare has returned to normal. They remove barriers for patients who may not be attend hospitals in person due to health, work or geographical issues and allow them to see and speak to their clinician from anywhere, whilst reducing missed appoints and freeing up clinic space.
Patient education: Knowledge is power and educating your patients to understand their health and care pathways is one of the most valuable facets to creating effective engagement. There is so much information out there at the moment that is conflicting and misleading, that it can often frighten patients into self-diagnosing and self-treating inaccurately which is detrimental to patient wellbeing and empowerment. Healthcare organisations need to be responsible for helping patients cut through the noise online and provide reliable sources and platforms for patients to educate themselves. Some simple examples of ways they can do this include asking for patient teach-back when explaining treatments or condition information, sending illness self-management videos, graphics and podcasts which are easily digestible at the patient’s convenience, or smoking cessation support and reminders via SMS.
Listen to the Patient Voice: Giving every single person a chance to participate in the development of their healthcare organisation is the ultimate act of patient empowerment. Gathering feedback through FFT and other surveys in order to listen to the patient’s voice is crucial, particularly at a time when new technologies and services are being implemented at pace across the world.
Patient Self-Scheduling: Give your patients the opportunity to schedule, amend and cancel their appointments digitally at their convenience, allowing them to be more proactive with their healthcare. Automated appointment reminders that give patients the option to add the date and time to their calendars, and access location details as well as QR codes for self-check-in really put all the tools a patient needs to successfully prepare for a hospital or doctors visit.
Healthcare Communications has developed the tools needed to accelerate patient empowerment through engagement solutions such as video consultations, appointment management platforms, patient self-scheduling, PIFU, personal portals, patient experience surveys, and virtual assistants/chatbots. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.