Patient engagement has many definitions but the common thread in each definition is best defined as the facilitation and strengthening of the role of those using services as coproducers of health, and health care policy and practice. An engaged patient feels greater ownership of their health and amplifies the impact of smart clinical programs. One way health systems are working to achieve patient engagement is through remote health management (RHM). When patients engage in RHM programs, they help health systems deliver better patient outcomes and drive overall healthcare improvements, which includes significant cost savings. High patient engagement is a leading indicator of an effective RHM program. But how do you assess if you have optimal patient engagement with remote patient monitoring? Let’s first cover some basic principles of patient engagement for RHM.
Why measure patient engagement in healthcare?
RHM programs, a healthcare delivery method, rely heavily on patient engagement. In fact, there is no remote patient monitoring if the patient isn’t involved or motivated to actively participate with their treatment plans. That’s why it’s important to make patient engagement part of your program goals and measure patient engagement through reliable sources or tracking methods. By performing ongoing measurement of patient engagement, you will understand its critical role in an RHM program. More importantly, you will identify ways to drive better patient outcomes, contain program costs, and leverage opportunities to reduce hospital and ER admission costs.
Is patient engagement related to patient activation?
Patient activation is related to a patient’s cognitive and behavioral attitude towards healthcare. Their attitude develops over time making patient activation more conceptual than patient engagement. Patient engagement is about how a patient thinks, feels, and acts in each stage of their care or treatment. In Figure 1 (below), adapted from Gaffina et al, there is a patient health engagement (PHE) model to show the process view of patient engagement.
In short, if a patient gains knowledge they become more emotionally confident or ready to engage in what is required from them in their care or treatment plans. Patient activation is based on a doctor-patient consultation experience or belief whereas patient engagement includes different components to help a patient fulfill or complete their healthcare treatment plans.
How do we assess patient engagement in remote patient monitoring programs?
There are many patient touch points and activities set up in RHM programs. But these features often go unmanaged or unmeasured for assessing patient engagement. To gauge your patient engagement, establish a few key performing indicators (KPIs) with your top RHM program activities. For simplicity purposes, below are three example touch points and KPIs:
- Vital Sign Submissions: The percentage of patients submitting 85% or more of scheduled vital signs - with a goal to achieve 95% or more.
- Patient Satisfaction Surveys: The percentage of responsiveness to patient satisfaction surveys and other soft engagement tools - with a goal to achieve 75% or more.
- Open and Download Rates: The opening and downloading of patient education materials by your patient population - with a goal to achieve 40-60% depending on the material format.
What can we do to improve patient experience in remote care?
The experience of a patient enrolled in remote care monitoring works hand-in-hand with delivering patient engagement. Taking the three KPIs listed above, here are a few example approaches to help drive patient engagement and improve their experience within your RHM program.
Vital Sign Submissions:
If you are seeing low vital sign submissions, one simple improvement is to set up automatic reminders. For example, a patient may need to submit their vitals by 10:00 am every day and therefore they can set a 15-minute reminder prior to this time. By simply enabling patients to set the time and day for reminders or submissions you improve their chances of engaging with their treatment plan. This does require the RHM platform offers this feature for patients.
Flexible Communication Methods
Patients may prefer communication through chat, phone calls, or texts. Enabling these features within the RHM platform is a convenient and easy way for the engagement team to interact with the patient. Additional communication channels will bring more convenience to the patient and increase the likelihood of retrieving their vitals when the engagement teams need them the most. These alternative ways to communicate through the platform help the patient establish healthy habits with the engagement teams. Also, it helps both groups navigate other obstacles like equipment problems or when a patient is on vacation.
Patient Satisfaction Surveys:
The way a survey is written, the method of delivery, and the cadence of delivery all factor into a successfully built and deployed patient satisfaction survey. Knowing your audience demographics will help you develop and deliver a more relevant survey. For example, certain demographics respond well to icons and emojis. These additions may help increase the likelihood of a survey conversion. Also, look at the channels for distributing your survey and determine if you need to make any adjustments. For example, if you see low participation when surveying through a mobile app, consider adjusting to an SMS channel instead. This may result in more responsiveness if your patient population utilizes text messaging over emails.
Open and Download Rates of Patient Education Materials:
Program material open and download rates are among the strongest indicators of patient engagement. Your RHM platform should track and give visibility to these behaviors for routine measurement and monitoring. If you aren’t seeing patients click or download the material you created for them, this is a red flag. There are a number of factors that may explain why a patient isn’t engaging with the material. For example, how long of a read is the material based on the topic? Would the topic and content be best in short or long-form - or even in video form? Perhaps what is being said could easily translate into light and simple infographics or visuals. Let’s think about delivery methods. Are you using email to deliver the materials and is the email setup with hyperlinks for quick access? Is the delivery of materials perceived to have multiple steps or clicks to access it? These small considerations can add up to be a big engagement detractor. Patient education is a valuable component of RHM programs. It gives patients the “why remote care monitoring matters to me” and motivates the patient to care more about their treatment plan. This will increase their engagement within your RHM program. But the patient education material needs to inspire, easily attract, and be accessible to a variety of patient and reader types. It’s important to look at the format and delivery routinely. Then, optimize this material until it achieves satisfactory opens, clicks, and downloads with your RHM goals.
We understand jump-starting and improving patient engagement in remote patient monitoring is easier said than done. At Harmonize Health, we work with health systems to assess their patient engagement and implement approaches that achieve a 97% monthly patient program retention.
Contact us for a complimentary patient engagement analysis. Start assessing your remote patient monitoring program opportunities to achieve the highest patient engagement results.
Harmonize Health is a remote health management platform that helps providers engage patients easily to improve their health.