Keeping patients motivated to engage in their care

As we have discussed previously, forming an effective clinician-patient partnership has huge benefits when it comes to both personalising care plans and enabling clinicians to perform their job more efficiently and effectively.

Listening to our patients’ stories and their individual desired outcomes from their healthcare journey is the first step to achieving this, and motivating patients to become more engaged in their care is the next challenge for clinicians.

Engaging patients in their care is particularly important when treating chronic and complex disease, with repeated studies [1, 2] showing that patient education and participation can hugely decrease healthcare costs, the need for hospital admissions and improve the quality of care.

Additionally, allowing patients to take part in their decision-making leads to achievement of outcomes that are more congruent with their wishes.

Education is key  

Simply put, knowledge is power. Educating patients and their representative care givers on their condition in depth, helps them to understand what it is, what it means and how it can be treated. Most importantly patients and their representatives learn how they can help [4].

Providing patients with this knowledge enables them to actively participate in their health journey and realise that they can also be part of the solution. Being equipped with this awareness, allows patients to make better decisions about their care and contribute to improving their outcomes.

A common concern is that patients may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope after receiving complex details about their disease, however there are now abundant studies showing that patients are able to absorb and understand information about their condition, perhaps because it is so personally relevant.

Empowering patients with a holistic understanding of their condition and the tools to help them manage also helps with care coordination.

Providing the tools 

How can clinicians best go about establishing and maintaining patient engagement throughout their patient’s care journey?

Technologies such as patient portals that enable continuous engagement between providers and patients are becoming increasingly popular solutions to this problem. A common model for a patient portal is to tether it to the providers electronic health record. This approach enables patients to perform tasks that are immediately valuable such as appointment booking, viewing their medical records and test results, and receiving and using educational information tailored to them – all in the context of a single provider or provider organisation’s care.

Undoubtedly this is a valuable approach. However, tethered portals cannot provide a full and complete view of the patient’s care based on information drawn from all of the patient’s interactions, especially when their condition is complex and they have attended multiple care settings. Commonly, patients must search for their information in several patient portals to see their complete record.

Providing a more complete experience requires the use of a patient portal that is tethered to a health information exchange (HIE), rather than individual EHRs, which presents complex information and ideally seamless links to individual tethered patient portals.

Studies [3] have shown that patients who have access to and use patient engagement technologies see measurable improvements in the management and outcomes of their chronic conditions. These studies demonstrate the importance of a complete patient portal in order to achieve improved outcomes.

Continuing the momentum  

Providing patients with the knowledge and tools to become an active participant in their care will usually lead to a rise in their motivation to stay engaged throughout their patient journey. This requires two-way enthusiasm and is optimised by clinicians being willing and able to increase their engagement with patients.

Personalised care plans that are tailored to a patient’s needs and desires, reinforce the message that they are at the centre of their care and are largely in control of their health journey. Whether that be by collaborating on medical decisions or adhering to medication regiments, this approach will provide patients with the motivation to stay engaged.

Clinicians can also help keep patients motivated by setting care goals and milestones with them, utilising appropriate technologies to help monitor their goals, and by sending alerts and reminders to patients to help them stay on track.

How can Orion Health help strengthen the connection between patients and their clinicians? 

Orion Health Engage is a patient-facing software solution that gives individuals easy, anytime access to their own health record through a patient portal on a desktop or mobile device. The information is sourced in the patient’s HIE-based clinical record and is therefore comprehensive as well as presented in a way that is easy for the patient to understand.

Engage provides a range of tools to encourage patients to actively self-manage their medical care, with convenient ways to interact with their care team, view their health information and access educational information.

With technology such as Orion Health Engage, clinicians can empower patients with the tools they need in order to keep them educated and motivated throughout their care journey.

Interested to learn more about how Orion Health Engage can help you keep your patients engaged and motivated?

This blog is the third in the series on partnering with patients. The next in the series will look in more detail at sharing information.

Read our previous blog on Why is listening to patients the first step towards patient-centred care?

References

[1] Rau-Murthy, R., BA, Bristol, L., RRT, AE-C, & Pratt, D., MD, MPH. (2017). Community-Based Asthma Education. Community-Based Asthma Education, 23(2), E67-E69. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.ajmc.com/view/community-based-asthma-education

[2] Giardina, T. D., Modi, V., Parrish, D. E., & Singh, H. (2015). The patient portal and abnormal test results: An exploratory study of patient experiences. Patient experience journal, 2(1), 148–154. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363705/

[3] Kruse, C. S., Bolton, K., & Freriks, G. (2015). The effect of patient portals on quality outcomes and its implications to meaningful use: a systematic review. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(2), e44. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.3171

[4] DeBronkart, D., & Sands, D. Z. (2013). Let patients help!: A “patient engagement” handbook – how doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers can partner for better care. North Charleston: CreateSpace.com.