Value-based care rings in a new era in patient engagement

April 9, 2019

Not only do providers need to engage patients to improve outcomes, but they have to do it in a way that delights patients as well.

Quality over quantity is the mantra of value-based care. Or, maybe outcomes over checkouts. 

CMS and commercial payers have been pushing hard to make the shift to value-based care a reality and it seems to be working. Value-based care payment programs have reduced unnecessary medical costs by nearly six percent, and less than 40 percent of all insurance payments are now entirely fee-for-service.

Despite the benefit, it has taken a long time to get here. Why? Because value-based care relies as much on changes in patient behavior as it does provider behavior. Change is hard, but in healthcare, it’s extra hard. Moving from paying for visits to paying for outcomes and experience is a big ask, especially because outcomes rely on so many factors. For example, a diabetes patient may want to manage their A1C, and a provider can be supportive, but making lifestyle changes to address that can be hard, and ultimately a provider has little control over patient behavior.

Patients have to be all in. Patients say they want to play a more active role in their care and wellness. But, there’s more. They also want more engagement reciprocated from providers. While it is great that patients want to play that important role, their higher expectations often create additional burden for providers. Not only do providers need to engage patients to improve outcomes, but they have to do it in a way that delights patients as well.

A recent Physicians Foundation survey showed that three in ten patients are considering switching providers for a better experience. At the same time, research has shown that patients forget most of what their provider says during their visit. Many patients don’t show up to appointments simply because they forgot. How can providers address both of these problems to improve outcomes while providing a personalized, customized, and delightful patient experience?

Patient relationship management

According to Black Book, 92 percent of healthcare consumers surveyed say that improving customer experience should be a top strategic priority for medical providers over the next twelve months. 

An effective patient relationship management (PRM) platform, which connects providerswith patients at every stage of the patient journey, can improve communication and help providers create a better patient experience, which can improve outcomes by reducing readmissions.

 Providers should look for platforms that include:

  • Patient appointment reminders for scheduled appointments as well as unscheduled preventive care and follow-up visits

  • Post-visit communications like surveys and education

  • Convenient access to online scheduling and real-time, two-way text messaging

  • Targeted communication for situations like office closures or urgent notifications (e.g. last-minute appointment openings)

Personalized and customized

Getting patients to their appointments might be one of the most impactful things a provider can do to improve outcomes. But just sending a reminder or an email with education about preventive care or disease management isn’t always enough for patients to confirm or schedule an appointment.

In other industries, such as retail and hospitality, consumers are firmly planted in the “era of personalization,” with offerings of a personalized experience increasing revenue and customer loyalty. Healthcare is no exception. 

Studies have found that 91 percent of patients want more personalized information from their providers and that patients say that when they “feel like a number,” they are willing to find another provider.

In addition to looking at specific types of communications as mentioned above, providers should look for a system that can send those communications with capabilities such as:

  • Personalizing communications with the patient’s name as well as appointment details

  • Providing appointment-specific information in reminders, such as “remember to fast for 24 hours” or “please bring your new patient paperwork”

  • Delivering messages based on patient preferences for mode (i.e., text, voice calls, or email) as well as timing, frequency, and language

  • Targeting education based on factors like gender, age, diagnosis, or treatment

Using the right PRM system can result in higher patient engagement and better patient experience, which can translate into better outcomes. This is not only important for success in value-based care but also in a traditional fee-for-service environment. Long-term success of any healthcare organization now hinges on having a patient relationship strategy in place.

Josh Weiner is the president and chief operating officer of Solutionreach. Weiner has been recognized by Utah Business as a 2017 CXO of the Year and as a 2018 Forty Under 40 Utah Rising Star.