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February 18, 2019

Demystifying 3 Top Myths About Patient Engagement

Providers know they need it. Patients are coming to expect it.

The move to a value-based care system, along with the long-term consumerization of healthcare, has made patient engagement a top priority. The pressure is on to deliver better outcomes by getting patients involved in their own care – while making the experience more affordable and better for all.

These new ways of thinking about patient education, communication and decision-making stand to upend decades worth of ideas about healthcare as an industry, and it is not surprising for some to carry a few misconceptions about patient engagement. Even though efforts to increase patient engagement are linked to improved results, myths abound about how it should be defined and exercised.

To debunk these misconceptions, let us examine three of the most common myths about patient engagement:\


Myth #1 – Patient engagement is only for hospitals and large practices

Patient engagement is not just the latest buzzword. It is a top-to-bottom strategy that should drive daily decision making, not only for hospitals and large health systems, but also for pharmacies, independent physicians, and long-term and post-acute practices.

In this new era of value-based care, providers of all sizes need to view patients as customers who should be strategically engaged with to win their partnership. Only by gaining their buy-in can that vision be achieved.


Myth #2 – Patient portals get the job done

Over the past decade, patient portals have become the most common way healthcare providers engage with patients. Many now rely on patient portals to convey vital updates, answer questions about medical choices, collect personal information, survey feedback, send reminders, even process payments.

Healthcare organizations have poured millions of dollars into patient portal technology as a way to share information and better get patients involved in their own care. However, while about 90 percent of providers offer patient portal access, usage among patients remains critically low. Less than one-third of patients are using portals to access their health information, according to the Government Accountability Office.  

The truth is that many patients find portals too cumbersome to use. They are not mobile friendly, or otherwise fail to live up to consumer expectations, so they go ignored. Lack of education about the benefits of patient portals may also play a role in their failure to engage in a more meaningful way.  

Bottom line: Patient portals are not getting the job done by themselves. Providers must seek other solutions for reaching patients.


Myth #3 – Patient engagement can be one-size-fits-all

Meaningful patient engagement is not simply a box to check off. It involves educating patients, regularly communicating with them at key intervals, and getting them involved in decisions about their wellbeing. It is a two-way partnership.

Likewise, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” strategy to patient engagement. Every practice has its own unique challenges and opportunities. What works for one provider may not work for another, especially when looking at the types of patients they service.

To better involve patients with their care, providers need to offer consumers modern choices that align with how people prefer to communicate. For many, that includes the ability to communicate directly from their phones, such as through live video consults or Secure Text.

Achieving the goal of value-based care will require practices to experiment with what implementations work for them. From reminders to secure text messaging of important health information, Updox offers a range of patient engagement solutions.

Request a demo to learn how Updox can be used to improve patient engagement, or download Updox’s “Five Steps to Improving Patient Engagement” white paper for additional best practices.

Topics: Pharmacy, Physicians, Blog, health-systems, post-acute-care, engagement