Patient Engagement Strategies for Improving Patient Activation

Many medical practices have found a positive correlation between patient engagement and patient outcomes. As a medical professional, your goal is to make sure your patients have the best outcome possible.

The reality is that your efforts as a physician, and the effort that your staff contributes, are not sufficient to guarantee a patient’s optimal health. Ultimately, the onus is on the patient to make sure that they understand their health condition and the advice given to them by their physician.

On the other hand, medical practices can contribute to a patient’s ability to engage and take an active role in their own care. So how do you increase patient engagement in healthcare? Let’s find out.

What is Patient Engagement in Healthcare?

Patient engagement is a term that encompasses a wide variety of concepts. It includes patient activation, any actions taken to increase activation, and what the patient does in response to their care. Patient engagement statistics show that a highly engaged patient has better health outcomes on average.

The term patient activation is a more specific concept. Patient activation refers to a patient’s ability to independently do things for their own care. Patient activation is measured using a scale called the Patient Activation Measure (PAM), developed by Hibbard et al in 2004. Since then, the PAM scale (as well as other similar scales) have been used to measure a patient’s level of activation. The PAM scale is measured with a survey, consisting of 22 items weighted differently.

The PAM makes it easy for physicians and hospital staff to understand how much involvement a patient has in their own care. Most importantly, it shows how different patients can be when it comes to taking control of their care.

Learn more about why patient engagement is so important in healthcare!

Strategies To Improve Patient Activation

Provide easily accessible education to patients.

A patient cannot engage in their own care if they don’t understand what their care entails. This includes knowing key information about their condition and how it’s treated or managed.

The best education is personalized and catered to the health literacy of the patient. Use simple terms and easy to understand language when communicating to the patient about their condition and their care. Simply referring them to a video or a pamphlet should not be the first resort when educating a patient.

Encourage shared decision making among patients.

Treatment can be a very personal subject. Patients have values of their own, and these values can sometimes get in the way of providing optimal care. This is not the fault of the physician, nor is it truly the fault of the patient. Situations like these can become a lot more smooth when the patient is given the opportunity to share in key decisions concerning their care.

Care providers can assist the patient in key decisions by understanding what their preferences are, understanding what values drive their decision making, and providing an evaluation of decisions that the patient makes on their own.