Patient engagement is a crucial aspect of any modern EHR experience. In the behavioral health space, patient engagement software can get pretty complex (in a good way that serves both patient and provider).
In this blog post, we will explore what behavioral health providers need out of their patient engagement software.
What is Patient Engagement?
At the most basic level, patient engagement describes a provider’s interaction with patients when they’re not physically in front of them at the facility.
Patient engagement software can be separated into two basic categories:
- Delivery of remote treatment
- Care coordination via patient portal
The delivery of remote treatment is exactly what it sounds like – these are engagement tools that make virtual treatment possible.
The second category speaks to the ways a provider can electronically engage a patient for the supplementary aspects to treatment – think online forms, signatures, lab results, etc.
For a full EHR experience, behavioral health organizations need patient engagement software that provides tools for both aspects. Read on as we examine the specifics of each one.
Patient Engagement: Remote Treatment
The most straightforward, and currently relevant, form of patient engagement is telehealth.
This has been an important EHR feature for quite some time. However, being able to engage patients remotely has taken on a new significance in the wake of COVID-19.
Overnight, a video-conferencing tool that allowed providers to deliver virtual care became a software necessity. It’s been a crucial solution to manage the risk of COVID-19 by making remote treatment possible from the safety of our homes.
As the pandemic forced both organizations and their patients to adopt and adapt to telehealth, it essentially ripped off the telehealth bandaid for our industry.
Many software vendors and treatment providers had yet to establish reliable video-conferencing solutions before the pandemic because there wasn’t a dire need for it. Patients were still very much in the habit of physically going to the doctor’s office .
COVID-19 paved the way for widespread acceptance and exposure to telehealth. Patients have acquired a taste for it, and some of them won’t want to turn back. As a result, telehealth will be a vital aspect of any patient engagement software when life returns to a new normal post-pandemic.
Beyond this immediate need due to COVID-19, telehealth has been a critical solution for patients who cannot physically access care at a facility.
For years, individuals living in very remote areas without treatment services have relied on telehealth to get the medical care they need. Similarly, patients who have a medical issue that prevents them from traveling also benefit from a video-conferencing tool.
In this way, the best, most comprehensive patient engagement software contains a dynamic telehealth solution. Your patient engagement software isn’t complete without it.
Patient Engagement via Patient Portal
The patient portal is typically the main hub for patient engagement in the modern EHR environment.
From that central interface, providers can engage their patients in a variety of ways.
Most commonly, the patient portal is used to send and receive documentation. Providers should be able to electronically send relevant documentation to patients to supplement or advance their treatment.
The type of documentation exchanged through the patient portal will vary depending on the platform. One example would be assessments or surveys that patients take electronically, in their own time.
Or, providers can send actionable items to patients through the portal, such as forms that need a signature, or even statements to be viewed and paid.
Alternatively, patients can also upload various documentation to their patient records through the portal. In a time where ownership of your personal health record is a growing consumer demand, this is a very useful tool.
Patients should be empowered to add as much information to their health record as they want/need (lab results, medical histories). That way, the system contains as comprehensive a view of their health as possible.
As the world marches towards a more digital reality, these are the types of actions that patients would rather take care of on their phone or at their computer instead of making a trip to the office.
The other main engagement aspect of the patient portal to consider is secure messaging.
Providers and patients should be able to communicate about treatment securely and remotely. Most modern platforms offer instant messaging within the patient portal itself. This is great functionality for two reasons.
First, because the messaging takes place within the platform, those transmissions are guaranteed to be secured within the EHR’s security infrastructure.
And, second, this functionality suits the modern patient’s busy schedules and potential preferences for digital communication.
Patient engagement software should actively facilitate a patient’s treatment and inject efficiency into a provider’s operation. It’s not just about having a portal where patients can sign in and do a few things anymore.
Now, it’s about offering a dynamic portal experience that enhances a provider’s process and adds flexibility to how a patient can engage in their care.
Patient Engagement Software: Further Education
As you may have gathered so far, patient engagement solutions work best as a two-way tool.
Patient engagement software is most effective when it can be utilized by both provider and patient to enhance their respective experiences.
It’s also a solution that continues to evolve as the world’s means of communication evolve around us. It would have been unimaginable to text your doctor 15 years ago. Today, you can beam them into your living room on your phone for an appointment.
The most powerful EHRs leverage the most powerful, innovative tech. The degree to which a platform is designed to engage patients can help you determine what kind of power it has under the hood in general.
When evaluating an EHR, remember that comprehensive patient engagement software tools do two things.
First, they improve a patient’s experience and care. And second, they promote an organization’s operational success as well.
If you are currently in the market for a new platform, check out this blog we wrote for EHR shoppers. It’s a guide to help behavioral health organizations choose the right software solution for their operation.