7 Deadly Sins to AVOID When Fostering Patient Engagement

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Patient engagement is an essential part of providing safe and effective quality patient care. Patients that are more actively involved in managing their healthcare have better outcomes and incur lower costs. Increased patient loyalty and retention, improved employee satisfaction, reduced medical malpractice risk, and better financial performance, are all dependent on patient engagement.

Doc smiling w-Patient during exam.jpgWhen it comes to patient engagement, it is every healthcare professional’s responsibility; from the front-line receptionist, to medical assistants, to technologists, to administrators, and of course physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioner, and others that engage patients in person or electronically (via telephone or patient portal). Effectively engaging patients in dialogue about health conditions, personal circumstances, health needs, and personal preferences, are all essential to ensure each and every patient has the greatest opportunity to engage and participate in their wellness plan.

Following are seven (7) best practices to consider. Failure to have some form of each of the following seven best practices in place is a Deadly Sin to Patient Engagement, for sure.

  1. Access to Care – In today’s consumer-driven market place patients are seeking quick, efficient, accessible care. The proliferation of walk-in clinics and urgent care facilities over the last several years speaks volumes to the importance of open access. To the extent that your practice can empower front-line support staff to accommodate same-day acute patient appointment requests – upon the patient’s initial phone call — will avoid the deadly sin that so many practices are guilty of – having patients wait until ‘tomorrow’ for the care they desire today.

  2. Uniquely Engage Patients Patients have unique goals and preferences that can be integrated into their care plan. Consider adopting strategies such as the teach-back method and shared-decision-making to encourage patients to become active members of their care team.

  3. Enlist Family Member Advocates Family is most often a wonderful, if not essential resource for patient support, well-being, and care coordination. Include a member of the patient’s family during office visits and invite the family member to play the role of patient-advocate as part of the patients care team. Patient and family-centered care play an important role in improving health outcome.

  4. Expand Communication Techniques – As technology rapidly progresses and continues to permeate into the delivery of healthcare, patient communication methods such as; smart-phone Apps, on-line patient portals, secure e-mail and/or texting, and online video calls are becoming preferred methods by many patients. Utilizing a patient portal, already available to most patients, improves office efficiency, increases patient satisfaction, and will empower patients to become more actively engaged in their health.

  5. Enhance the Team-based Approach– A patient’s interactions with medical staff can be just as important as the physician-patient relationship. Assigning specific staff members to each provider will help ensure patients become familiar and comfortable with staff. Some patients may even feel more at ease asking questions to the nurse or medical assistant. Always encourage staff to provide an enabling and supportive environment.

  6. Obtain Patient Feedback- Research has for decades demonstrated the potential of utilizing patient feedback to improve patient safety, patient satisfaction, and increasing patient loyalty. With the advent of the internet, inviting patients to provide real-time feedback immediately following their office visit provides useful insights that can help improve office work-flow, foster high levels of customer service, and maximize patient loyalty and retention on an on-going basis. Utilizing patient feedback to effect positive change is MedicalGPS’ specialty. If you would like to learn more, click here to visit MedicalGPS.

  7. Continuous Quality Improvement – Regardless of how stellar your physician practice currently performs, it is essential that every organization strive toward continuous quality improvement. If your practice does not already have an on-going, continuous quality improvement program in place, consider deploying MedicalGPS’ Endeavor for Excellence. MedicalGPS’ Endeavor for Excellence service improvement program (E4E) is delivered via a series of live on-line webinars, personally led by founders of MedicalGPS, LLC, designed to aid local physician practice leadership with implementing 21 E4E Best Practices.



  1. http://healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief_pdfs/healthpolicybrief_86.pdf

  2. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/29/5/921.long

  3. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/252269/1/9789241511629-eng.pdf

  4. http://www.medicalpracticeinsider.com/best-practices/5-tactics-enrich-patient-engagement

  5. https://www.pcpcc.org/sites/default/files/media/pep-report.pdf

  6. https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tools/shareddecisionmaking/tools/tool-6/index.html

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