Young Patient Engagement Increases Through Digital Communication

When a patient is more engaged, involved, and receptive to the health care he or she is provided or offered, he or she is more likely to have positive health outcomes both immediately and in the future. With the fast-paced and more technologically advanced society that we have become accustomed to, younger people are engaging more and more with everyday life through digital communication.

Studies on Patient Engagement Using Digital Communication

A recent study performed by Professor Frances Griffiths from the Warwick Medical School and Jackie Sturt, Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing at King's College London explored the use of digital communication in the healthcare industry and how young patient engagement increases through digital communication.

The finding of the study showed that among younger patients with ongoing medical conditions, digital communication provided an added value. It allowed them to gain access to their clinicians more easily which in turn promoted more engagement and better followup. Those studied were between the ages of 16 and 24, and the outcome showed more participation and proactive behavior in their healthcare through the use of digital communications with their caregivers. It also showed that patients were directed to an appropriate health care worker based on their specific needs more expeditiously.

The study showed to be mostly positive with only slight concerns about the additional time this would require of healthcare workers which it is believed would be offset by savings in other areas of care, such as visits made for referring patients to the most appropriate clinician or specialist. Additionally, the study shows that healthcare workers and institutions would need to institute policies to safeguard private healthcare information that is transmitted through digital means.

What Forms of Digital Communication Can Improve Customer Engagement?

Utilizing a variety of the forms of digital communication available such as texting, email, Skype, and online portals, hospital staff and administrators can improve customer engagement and promote better health outcomes for their patients.

One area of digital communication that health providers and facilities have seen a significant amount of success is through the use of online patient portals. These online portals allow for a variety of health-related functions including scheduling appointments and checking in on lab work. Portals also allow for communication with billing departments and healthcare professionals through a secured email portal.

Texting and email have also been used to facilitate better interaction with a more technology-dependent patient pool through appointment reminders and confirmations as well as reminder systems for testing or for notification to contact a healthcare provider or facility. Additionally, providers and facilities can provide patients with checklists and aftercare information that can easily be accessed with a few clicks, promoting better compliance and fewer unnecessary return visits.

Digital communication has now even gone a step further in promoting patient engagement by offering virtual visits. Patients can communicate with healthcare professionals via online forms, Skype, and other video conference features for more common and easy-to-diagnose conditions such as sinus infections. A virtual visit can also be used for even more involved treatment such as therapy and counseling sessions.

The ease of use of this form of communication and the ability to schedule appointments at the most convenient location makes the patients more likely to seek out treatment early. They're also more likely to attend necessary appointments for services such as counseling.

How Do Healthcare Leaders Prepare?

With digital communication pushing forward in many facets of the healthcare industry, there are definitely steps and actions that healthcare facilities and administrators can take to help them prepare for more patients transitioning to digital communication over other traditional patient healthcare correspondence.

One of the most obvious concerns with digital communication in the healthcare industry is making sure that the medical information protected by HIPAA privacy policies stays private. To prepare for the growing privacy concerns, it is vital for healthcare facilities to set up a privacy policy as well as communication procedures to ensure that private health information does not get shared with those not covered under the patient's HIPAA privacy agreement.

When setting up systems such as patient portals, it is crucial that security is maintained on the website and server, the initial setup is established on a face to face visit with the patient, and information is gathered to validate the user's identity during set-up. Additionally, patients should agree to a privacy policy and disclosure of specific information when any digital communication is established. It is also essential for the healthcare provider and facility to determine which information will be subject to stricter privacy requirements and will be limited or restricted from digital communication to maintain HIPAA privacy.

What Does Digital Communication Mean for the Future of Healthcare?

As the younger generation is becoming more dependent on digital communication and technology to become more involved in their healthcare, healthcare facilities are going to become tasked with ways to communicate the private protected information in a secure way. They must also ensure that the client's needs will be met both during face to face and virtual communication.

While digital communication cannot entirely replace the necessity of meeting with healthcare providers and staff in person, having the option of digital communication or even the possibility of virtual patient-provider engagements may promote interaction and better preventative and proactive care on the part of the patient. The more engaged, involved, and knowledgeable a patient becomes about their health conditions and treatment, the more likely it is they will have positive outcomes in the future. This will hopefully lead to lower healthcare costs and a better overall health outlook as they age.

You will likely learn more about how digital communication can improve patient engagement with the younger generation and improve general health outcomes as you advance your education with an online MHA degree. Learn how you can begin your journey in health administration by visiting the University of Southern California Executive Master of Health Administration program online.