Using Online Solutions to Overcome Barriers to Patient Engagement

A happy elderly woman and her healthcare provider using technology to overcome barriers to patient engagement

The need for patient engagement is clear, yet many healthcare organizations are left wondering why it is so hard to implement effective strategies when the benefits are so clear. Providers and healthcare systems need novel online solutions to overcome barriers to patient engagement

Evidence shows that 63% of patients seek information on the internet before consulting with their doctors. As patients become more tech-savvy, digital technology has expanded the traditional health care team. 

Key Takeaways

  • Engagement strategies must deliver consistent patient experiences.
  • Emerging healthcare technologies bring new opportunities to engage patients online.
  • A focused execution of your online patient engagement strategy is essential to overcome barriers and improve your program’s success. 

Barriers to Patient Engagement

Patient engagement barriers arise throughout the continuum of care. While most providers and healthcare systems have robust patient engagement strategies at the ready, they frequently encounter barriers during the implementation process.

Common implementation barriers include: 

  • Lack of repeatable system flexibility 
  • Inability to scale 
  • Lack of staff training
  • Inability to accurately identify and stratify at-risk patients
  • Lack of budget


Enablement platforms are easy to implement, and they are an effective way to support patients at every step along their healthcare journey—before, during, and after treatment. Well-designed and structured platforms enable patients to play a bigger role in their care. 

Online Solutions That Increase Patient Engagement

Emerging healthcare technologies create new opportunities to engage patients in a more meaningful way. Clinicians and organizations must evolve quickly to stay competitive in the marketplace while simultaneously meeting patient expectations and achieving clinical outcomes.  

Creating a digital partnership between patients, providers, and healthcare systems is the foundation of effective patient engagement. These strategies must deliver consistent, seamless patient experiences, whether care is delivered in-person or online. 

To overcome patient engagement barriers, online solutions should be:

  • Automated: Scalable solutions enable organizations to increase efficiency without additional staffing. 
  • Simple: Platform design must be intuitive and easy for patients to access and navigate.
  • Patient-Focused: Platforms should be holistic and support patients throughout their entire care journey.
  • Personalized: Person-focused technology is more relevant and motivating for patients.  
  • Action-oriented: Solutions should identify high-risk patients and route them to the appropriate level of care at the right time.

The following online solutions can help you achieve greater patient engagement: 

Self-Service Tools

Enabling patients to schedule, change, and confirm appointments increases accountability and reduces same-day surgery cancellations while reducing staff burden. Self-service tools give patients more control, allowing them to manage appointments outside normal business hours. Scheduling tools can also support waitlists, helping clinics minimize unfilled surgery time slots. 

Digital Therapeutics (DTx)

Beyond health trackers, wearable digital devices and sensors help patients connect their behaviors with health outcomes. For example, DTx can help patients with diabetes tighten blood glucose control and improve clinical outcomes following surgery. Digital therapeutics also reduce post-surgical complications for patients with unstable chronic conditions. 

Online Payment Portals

Online solutions enable patients to be more involved in the financial aspects of their care. Using digital gateways, patients can check claims status, make payments, and initiate payment plans. Providers and patients can weigh the cost-to-benefit data with increased cost transparency before establishing a customized treatment plan. 

Symptom Checkers

Digital triage tools help route patients to the care they need at the right time. Like 24/7 phone-based nurse lines where patients can call to ask questions about symptoms, digital symptom checkers offer a faster alternative and easily align with an organization’s workflows.

Virtual Programs

Virtual programs keep patients engaged in their recovery process after surgery. Programs frequently include coaching, questionnaires, and patient-reported outcomes data. One study found that 71% of patients enrolled in a digital-medicine program achieved target blood pressure control, compared to 31% of usual-care patients.

Patient-Reported Outcomes Measures (PROMs)

Effective PROMs systems help route patients to cost-effective interventions, often preventing unnecessary physician visits and hospitalizations. PROMs allow patients to enter data, upload documents, and submit questions to their providers. This information provides healthcare teams with valuable insights into patient needs, goals, and challenges. 

Online Communities

Many patients turn to online forums or social media groups for guidance and support. Unfortunately, many of these communities have no medical oversight, leaving patients vulnerable to potentially harmful misinformation. Facilitated online communities keep patients engaged and connected to their trusted health care teams. 

Patient Health Records (PHRs)

PHRs provide digital transparency, giving patients a wider lens from which to view their health. While most healthcare organizations have PHRs in place, fewer than 25% of patients activate their patient portals to access them.

EHR systems are useful, but they do not necessarily promote patient engagement on their own. Patient engagement platforms must be personalized and relevant to inspire action.

Graph showing patient portal utilization rates that drive decision-making to overcome barriers to patient engagement.
Image Source httpswwwhealthitgov

Patient Education Portals

Patients are more engaged when relevant information is accessible on demand. One study explored the use of phone apps to prepare patients for bariatric surgery and found that patients who used the app had higher levels of patient satisfaction, higher completion rates for education modules, and increased connectedness to their care teams. 

Bedside Tablets

Bedside tablets have been shown to increase patient satisfaction, self-management competency, and readiness for hospital discharge. Patients can access valuable information using tablets:  

  • Healthcare team bios and photos
  • Test and procedure timelines and schedule 
  • Medication information and reminders
  • Condition-specific education
  • Meal delivery options
  • Lab results
  • Provider notes
  • Patient surveys
  • Vital signs
  • Patient portal

Smartphone Apps

Mobile applications have exploded in recent years, bringing actionable data into the hands of patients. The Pew Research Center found that 69% of U.S. adults track at least one health indicator using a digital device. Apps automate health data, eliminating the risk for errors with manual data inputs. Advanced predictive analytics can also forecast patient needs based on past trends, making the data more personalized and engaging for patients. 

Integrated online solutions help overcome barriers to patient engagement
Image Source httpswwwpennmedicineorgnewsnews blog2020april

Text Messaging

Secure SMS text messaging provides gentle nudges to remind patients about upcoming appointments, prescription refills, and post-op instructions. Asynchronous care increases touchpoints throughout the patient’s care journey, encouraging them to take immediate action rather than delay care.

Wellbe Can Help You Overcome Barriers to Patient Engagement

Engaged patients are more confident in their abilities to self-manage their health.

A focused execution of your patient engagement strategy can help your organization overcome barriers and improve your program’s success. 

With the right technology and leadership, you can successfully implement innovative patient engagement strategies that improve surgical outcomes and set you apart from your competitors.  

Wellbe can help you meet your patients’ needs in a more meaningful way. Reach out today to learn more about our novel engagement strategies to sustain and improve patient outcomes.