Engaged Patients Cost Less
"The most innovative healthcare delivery systems recognize this and see their patients as assets who can help them achieve the goals of better health at lower costs. From this point of view, 'investing' in patients and helping them to be more effective partners in care makes good sense."
Dave deBronkart, a.k.a. e-Patient Dave, also talks about the value of engaged patients in his most recent Forbes column, says "Let patients help." In the article, he describes how being an engaged and informed patient when diagnosed with stage-IV kidney cancer improved his outcome and possibly even saved his life.
The question for marketers, then, is how can we most effectively invest in patients in a way that fosters higher levels of engagement? The Health Affairs study authors offer two suggestions:
- Build into every step of the care process a meaningful role for patients and their families.
- Tailor and customize care in a way that helps patients acquire the knowledge and skills they need to effectively manage their health.
I've seen some organizations tackle these steps by creating easy-to-understand brochures and literature for patients to take with them after their hospitalization. Some take the next step of a follow-up call to make sure patients understand the instructions and are following them. And many hospitals, like the one where I'm receiving my care, check in with patients before their procedure.
While these are all likely effective, it seems to me that hospitals need to move away from fostering incident-based engagement and toward patient-based engagement. Patients should be engaged in their health and healthcare at all times, not just when they are having surgery or contract an illness.
It's up to marketers, working with physicians, administrators, and patients, to figure out what that balance is.
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