Patient Engagement. Back to the Basics.

Engaging patients is in itself, actually quite difficult. We understand that. The old “bedside manners” of yesterday are all but forgotten. Everyone is in a hurry to be somewhere, doctors and patients. Everyone has their devices: phones, tablets, etc. Because of how busy we all are, providers need to recognize and follow the needs of patients, and in minute detail.

While my Doctor may stand and tell me what is going on in my body, I am extremely unlikely to remember. I’ve stood there with my smart phone wondering, “would he be okay with my recording everything he says? Maybe he could just email me what he just said—I am never going to remember all this.”  I am very clearly not engaged. I want to be. I just don’t know how.

And therein lies a problem—patients don’t know how to engage with their doctors, nor with their health, and it’s therefore often up to providers to be proactive. Years ago I would get pamphlets about some of the options available to me as a patient. Now I have to do the research myself. Not a bad idea, if I know where to begin. But it’s all too often I am left searching WebMD by throwing around symptoms I have. These searches leave quite a lot to be desired. The quantity of information available is so vast, that it is extremely difficult to find information in “layman’s” terms that will satisfy my needs as a patient.

So maybe a doctor wanting to practice better patient engagement, might actually write down links, medication names, diagnoses, etc and give them to me as the patient. Then maybe that same doctor could follow up with me in a day or two, “just checking in to see if you were able to research those items we talked about.”

Perhaps there is a way a doctor and patient could have an actual “relationship” like the old days. In what ways can technology be used to build that relationship? What simple changes can be put in place in your practice, so that you know your patients? How would this affect your practice or your bottom line?