A mounting body of evidence shows that patient engagement can cut costs for healthcare organizations while also improving health outcomes. For example, an article from The Commonwealth Fund found that patients with lower activation scores end up costing more than patients with higher activation scores. Another study from Tractica demonstrates a correlation between higher patient engagement and positive wellness behaviors.
As digital health becomes one of the primary means for delivering and receiving care, organizations are looking at the benefits of remote second opinion programs — a new subset of telehealth — when measuring and driving patient engagement. By nature, remote second opinions empower the patient to take ownership as they seek out the best specialist to address their concerns. They also improve access to care, as they can be initiated from anywhere.
When you approach your remote second opinion program from the standpoint of patient engagement, you effectively create a virtual on-ramp for future patients to visit your hospital, creating opportunities to generate more revenue and expand your reach.
Engaging Patients Throughout the Remote Consult:
Create a Seamless Telehealth Experience
Creating a clear, defined process for delivering second opinions via telehealth can help you administer and scale a successful remote consult program. This is especially important if you work with international patients – who may face different regulatory hurdles – or populations with lower technology literacy. Work with your stakeholders internally to outline your remote consult process and identify opportunities for simplifying the experience.
As you’re outlining your process, it is helpful to identify areas where patients require added support. Telehealth is not always straightforward, so patient education materials, documentation, and an easy way to contact customer support all help to keep patients engaged.
Simplify Medical Record Compilation and Sharing
According to an article from Evisit, 57% of patients say they’d be more engaged in their personal healthcare if they had online access to their medical records. Additionally, another 41% of patients who can’t access their medical records online would consider switching physicians to gain access, according to Accenture.
When facilitating remote consults, patients feel more empowered when taking ownership of organizing and sharing their medical records. When this step is difficult, we can provide services to help the patient through the process. This allows the physician providing the remote consult to remain focused on the diagnosis and recommendation, rather than piecing together a patient’s medical records, a task that contributes to physician burnout. Enabling patients to self-serve typically speeds up the process, resulting in faster turn-around and a better overall patient experience.
'41% of patients who can’t access their medical records online would consider switching physicians to gain access'
Follow Up with Patients After Their Consult
A second opinion is often the beginning of a new relationship with a patient, so it is important to have a system to follow-up after a consult.
Adding a human touch to your follow-up, whether a personal note or a video chat, is a great way to develop trust with people seeking consults online. Addressing follow-up questions, concerns, or feedback is critical to helping to ensure patients are heard.
All of these efforts contribute to building the patients' confidence in your hospital's reputation, making them more likely to return to you when they are ready to receive the in-person care they need.
Patient engagement is a growing focus area in healthcare because of its potential to improve health outcomes, cut healthcare costs, and generate revenue opportunities for your hospital. By implementing the tips listed above, you can develop a successful, scalable second opinion program that drives patient engagement.