Are you looking for ways to cut back on costs and boost the revenue of your medical group or bariatric specialty? If so, you might want to consider one often overlooked, yet crucial factor: patient enablement.
- Patient enablement gives patients the ability to self-manage important steps in their healthcare journeys.
- A growing body of research suggests that patient enablement may help you attract more patients and retain your existing ones while lowering care costs.
- Modern technological solutions can provide ample opportunities for increasing patient enablement while reducing the burden for your staff.
What Is Patient Enablement?
Let us take the following as our starting definition of patient enablement–” an intervention by which the health care provider recognizes promotes and enhances a patient’s ability to manage their own health.” [cite reference: Hudon, C, St-Cyr Tribble, D, Legare, F, Bravo, G, Fortin, M, Almirall, J. Assessing enablement in clinical practice: a systematic review of available instruments. J Eval Clin Pract. 2010;16:1301-1308.]
This means that a successful patient enablement solution guides patients to complete critical steps of their journey (assessment forms, insurance clearance, scheduling evaluations and tests, online education, etc) on a medium they prefer at a time that works for them.
A well-executed patient enablement process is simple and accessible for the patient, allowing them to self-manage and engage with the provider on their time. It will provide greater visibility for providers, help to identify areas where they need to nudge or support patients while improving the overall relationship between patient and provider.
In a well-designed and executed enablement strategy, patients:
- Engage actively with their healthcare team
- Learn and implement coping mechanisms
- Access critical information that will streamline their experience
- Achieve better outcomes
Why Patient Enablement Matters
A growing body of research shows that increased patient enablement may result in better health outcomes, improved quality of life, and a considerable reduction in costs for both patients and providers.
For instance, a 2009 study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed that patients with a clear understanding of after-hospital care, such as how to take their medications and when to schedule follow-up appointments, were 30% less likely to be readmitted or seek emergency care. This translated to an average cost reduction of $412 in hospitalization and outpatient expenses.
What Are Some Indicators of a Strong Patient Enablement Strategy?
- Patient access to health data. Patients who can view their health data on demand may be better equipped to understand their past and current health status, treatments, and medication plans. This can also empower them to coordinate their care with their providers more effectively.
- Effective, timely, and transparent communication can help build trusting provider-patient relationships. Having open communication channels when the patients need it shows a level of care and empathy, which can create higher trust in their providers
- Better Utilization of Consultations. Studies show that extending consultations by as little as 2.5 minutes can decrease provider stress and increase patient enablement. By streamlining engagement with less complex patients who are actively using engagement tools, providers can extend time with more complex cases, thereby improving the experience for both patients and providers.
- Higher Patient Preparedness. Delivering key information (education, assessments, etc. ) to patients at predetermined points in their journeys ensures a higher likelihood that patients will be able to follow their path more effectively. Instead of being overwhelmed with dozens of things to do over the course of their journey, patients can focus on the most immediate needs and have a better ability to complete key steps.
- Patient satisfaction. Satisfied patients may be more likely to be proactive and cooperate with their healthcare providers.
How to Encourage Patient Enablement Using Modern Technology
Healthcare technology can help facilitate patient enablement in a variety of ways, such as:
- Access their data on demand, including medical records, lab results, and more
- Pay medical bills
- Book and keep track of appointments
- Request new medications or refills
- Read vetted educational materials
- Communicate with providers quickly and efficiently
None of these features in and of themselves equate to patient enablement, but each can move the needle toward more patient-centricity.
Examples of technological solutions that you can leverage to increase patient enablement include:
- Mobile apps
- Online patient portals
- Electronic health records
- Secure direct messaging
- Telehealth and virtual visits
- Remote patient monitoring
- Price transparency tools
- Information and insight exchange software, such as personalized care automation platforms
How Patient Enablement Can Help You Cut Costs and Grow Your Revenue
Patient enablement can be good for your bottom line in three key ways:
1. It Empowers Patients to Actively Participate in Their Health Journeys Without Needing to Be in the Provider Office
By providing patients with information, technology, and remote communication channels, you can empower them to manage their health on their own and in-between visits.
Furthermore, solutions such as patient portals, electronic health records, and secure direct messaging may enable the creation of detailed treatment plans. Instead of caring for patients only during what can be very episodic visits in the office, providers can fine-tune comprehensive treatment plans which automatically address patients’ daily needs to keep them on track. .
All of this may reduce the need for in-person visits and prevent patients from falling seriously ill in the long run, saving you time, money, and other resources.
2. It Can Drive Patients Into the Office for Necessary Care
Sometimes, patients need to see a healthcare professional in person to address an emergency or prevent their condition from deteriorating. However, not all such patients will come into your office. They may forget about the appointment, underestimate their condition, or feel anxious about getting treatment.
Healthcare providers can prevent that from happening by engaging the patient remotely. They can send automated appointment reminders, request periodic self-assessments, or use a direct messaging tool to explain the importance of getting treatment and answer any questions the patient may have. Also, if they are monitoring the progress of the patients, they can be flagged if there are concerns that require clinical interventions.
By making sure patients get into the office when they need to, you can address potential issues of concern early on before they develop into more serious – and costly – conditions.
3. It Can Help Boost Retention Rates
Patient enablement is as critical to healthcare as customer service is to businesses.
Robust patient enablement creates greater satisfaction and likelihood to stay with the doctor. According to Cedar, 41% of patients say they will stop going to their healthcare provider because of poor digital experiences and 20% have already done so. Giving them the tools to streamline and improve their experience not only is a satisfier for them, but also ends up creating greater efficiencies for your practice.m.
Is There a Way to Gauge Patient Enablement?
Within the patient enablement platforms, there are numerous ways to measure the effectiveness of the experience.
For example, in primary healthcare, there is the Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI), which measures consultation quality. .It is a six-item questionnaire that patients fill out immediately after a consultation to rate how it affected their ability to:
- Cope with life
- Understand their health conditions
- Cope with their health conditions
- Stay healthy
- Be confident about their health
- Help themselves
A common measurement promoted through CMS is PROMs (patient-reported outcome measures). The more robust patient enablement platforms will collect these measures throughout the patient journey to monitor the effectiveness of the plan and manage all critical steps of the patient journey from referral through recovery and ensure the best possible experience for both providers and patients.
Improve Patient Enablement Through Personalized Care Automation
If you could use some help with that, consider investing in Wellbe’s personalized care automation platform. You can leverage its powerful, automated guided workflow to engage and partner with your patients at every stage of their journeys, cut your costs and increase your revenue.