A hot trend in the healthcare ecosystem today is patient engagement, and much has been made about what effects increasing engagement can have on the industry. However, few have delved into why patients should buy-in.
Up until recently, the extent of patient engagement in the healthcare setting started and ended with the consultation. Increasing amounts of research are uncovering what probably seems obvious to many of us – more patient interactions, activations and engagements lead to better patient outcomes. Most importantly, the more engaged a patient is, the more likely they are to continue to adhere to provider direction as well as implement and sustain better lifestyle choices. As a patient, increasing your engagement could save you time, money, improve your health and afford you greater control over your healthcare.
Time is a valuable commodity. It's estimated that up to 70% of ER visits and 40% of office visits are not medically necessary. With the average U.S. wait time at the ER being 24 minutes, coupled with 30+ minutes spent in transport to and from medical facilities, each of these potentially medically unnecessary visits burns roughly 1 hour in non-value added activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average U.S. citizen has four medical visits per year, so we are looking at a minimum of 4 hours saved per year just by employing telehealth options to dispense medical advice virtually. Coupled with other patient engagement strategies such as medication adherence reminders to lower re-admittance, patient provider messaging and patient access to medical information to reduce needless face to face interactions, there are significant time savings to be realized.
As we transition to a value-based care model, providers are looking for any tool they can find to reduce their risk. While we are still quite a ways from ironing out the details in regards to this transition, hopefully we will see that the less risk providers take on (due to better outcomes from engaged patients) the more profitable they will become, CMS and payers will need to pay out less, and the cost of health plans will go down.
The Bipartisan Policy Center reported that patient engagement is associated with:
- Reduced diagnostic testing and expenditures
- Fewer referrals
- Fewer elective surgeries
- Increased adherence to prescribed medical treatments
- Increased functional status and faster recovery
- Higher levels of satisfaction
- Higher levels of health literacy
- Higher levels of positive health-related behavior changes
- All these outcomes lead to less risky and healthier patients, thereby saving everyone money.
All these outcomes lead to less risky and healthier patients, thereby saving everyone money.
According to an AARP survey of patients over 50 with two or more chronic conditions, health indicators were dramatically improved across the board as evidenced below:
Be readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge
More Activated: 13% - Less Activated: 28%
Experience a medical error
More Activated: 19% - Less Activated: 36%
Suffer a health consequence from poor communication among providers
More Activated: 13% - Less Activated: 49%
The simple fact is, a more engaged patient is a more educated patient, which we are increasingly finding is leading to a healthier patient.
Check back in for part two – coming soon!