Patient Engagement: Five Best Practices for Success

Tad Arnt

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion of our two-part blog series on building patient engagement. Today we’ll take a look at best practices for building a patient-engagement strategy.

Last week we discussed how patient engagement can help you achieve the goals of triple aim: improved quality, better health, and lower cost. Today, I’ll discuss the five best practices to adopt and implement in your organization to build a strong foundation for excellence in patient engagement.

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. In order to be successful, it is important that your strategy includes clear and concise goals and objectives. These goals need to be:
    • Specific—Set a specific goal by answering five questions:
      1. Who is involved?
      2. What do you want to accomplish?
      3. When do you want to accomplish it?
      4. Which requirements, resources, and constraints are involved?
      5. Why do you want to accomplish the goal?
    • Measurable—Formulate benchmarks for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.
    • Agreed-upon—Get buy-in from your key stakeholders.
    • Realistic—Recognize that change takes time and effort. You must have the appropriate staff, time, and resources needed to achieve the goal.
    • Time-framed—Link goals to a clearly defined time frame including a target or deadline date. If you don’t set a date, then the drive for completion will diminish and eventually fall apart.
  2. Craft and distribute a communication plan. A communication plan is vitally important for informing your staff of your patient-education program and goals.
    • Communicate early and often.
    • Have the right messengers—who the message comes from is as important as the message you deliver. Find project champions who can deliver the message to like-minded colleagues. For example, hearing the communication plan from a fellow physician is very powerful.
  3. Align the key stakeholders. Take a moment to think about how this project might impact other teams. Add these teams to your key stakeholders, and actively solicit their input. Examples include:
    • Clinical
    • Marketing
    • IT
    • Accreditation and Quality
    • Business and Analytics
  4. Focus on patient touch points. Identify your specific touch points, and strive for consistent patient education across all touch points.
    • Clinical points of care
    • Patient portal
    • Public website
    • Mobile applications
    • Other programs
  5. Establish a governance committee. As you roll out your program, you will get requests for certain types of education. Develop a patient-education governance committee that can set up a process for vetting requests and responding to the requester. This formalized team provides credibility to your organizational commitment to the program.

Developing an enterprise patient-education strategy before you embark on specific initiatives is a best practice that will set you up for long-term success.