September, 2015.

A little while back, U.S. based Athena Healthcare published a white paper titled “5 Elements of a Successful Patient Engagement Strategy”. The thing that initially caught my attention was this simple, yet important, process flowchart.

Flowchart

The evolving concept of “Patient Engagement” encompasses a very broad range of issues, including the need for patient feedback to influence decision making, with the ultimate goal of improving overall outcomes. The graphic above is therefore especially relevant when considering Patient Experience Feedback Programs. It illustrates the need for genuine commitment at the practice leadership level and a buy in from all stakeholders, if the goals are to be achieved.

The Five Elements.

1. Define your organisation’s vision for patient engagement.
First, understand where you are and where you want to be in terms of patient engagement. Discuss what patient engagement means to your senior leadership, staff and patients. Ask “What would be important to me, if I was our patient?”

2. Create a culture of engagement.
Obtaining practice-wide support is critical for successful patient engagement, but it doesn’t have to be hard. When your practice’s leadership, staff and providers have been involved in creating the patient engagement vision, they are more likely to be enthusiastic about implementing it. Rely on policies and procedures when moving forward with patient engagement.

3. Employ the right technology and services.
Consider what communication processes are most appropriate for your patients, and are likely to achieve a high level of participation.

4. Empower patients to become collaborators in their care.
Provide patients the opportunity to express frank views and opinions of their treatment and interaction experiences, in a manner that is non-confrontational.

5. Chart progress and be ready to change and adapt.
Use your patient engagement vision to set achievable targets and ways to measure progress. Where there is clear evidence that particular issues are not achieving optimal satisfaction scores, revisit operational procedures and develop a remedial action plan.

“What you can measure, you can manage.” (The McKinsey Maxim)