7 minute read

4 Digital Patient Engagement Tools Every Practice Needs 

Kelsey Zaporowski

Updox Content Writer

Technology evolves fast, and the healthcare industry must advance along with it. 

Today’s patients expect more convenience and control. This begs the question: How can you give them the flexibility and personalization they crave? The answer lies in digital patient engagement tools

By staying connected, you increase engagement, thereby improving patient satisfaction and outcomes and driving ongoing success. 

Understanding what digital patient engagement is and why these tools are crucial will help you see how they can be applied in your practice. While each practice is unique, there are several common benefits these tools offer and must-have features that make them most useful.  

Once you’ve decided patient engagement tools could augment your management process, there are a few points unique to your practice to consider before you start searching for a fitting solution.  

What Is Digital Patient Engagement?

Digital patient engagement tools utilize technology to improve how patients interact with healthcare services. 

Engaging your patients is about making healthcare more accessible and delivering a personalized patient experience, creating patients who are involved in their own health journeys. 

The goal? To increase efficiency and efficacy for both patients and practices while achieving superior health outcomes. 

Why Digital Patient Engagement Tools Matter

The healthcare landscape is continually evolving. Patients want more control over their healthcare decisions with added transparency and simplicity. They want to interact with their healthcare providers as easily as they do with service teams in other industries. 

Digital engagement tools meet these expectations by offering coordinated, customized, and convenient services. 

FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: Patient Engagement: When is a Patient Truly Engaged? 

Here are some of the reasons why digital patient engagement tools matter now more than ever: 

  • Innovations in digital health technologies, such as mobile apps and patient portals, make it easier for patients to access their medical information and healthcare teams. 
  • Today’s patients are more informed. They want to be involved in their care, demanding transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness from healthcare services. 
  • With the rise of cost-sharing options, patients are bearing a greater portion of healthcare costs. This motivates them to engage more proactively in managing their health. 
  • The industry is moving towards value-based models where the value of services is measured by patient health outcomes. Engaged patients typically experience better outcomes. 

The Benefits of Digital Patient Engagement Tools

Digital patient engagement tools can redefine the patient experience. Let’s take a closer look at the major benefits of these healthcare innovations: 

  • Empowered patients: Engagement tools help patients understand and manage their health conditions. They provide accurate information that enables them to make informed decisions that align with their values. 
  • Greater accessibility: All patients do not have equal access to healthcare. Digital tools are helping the industry overcome this hurdle. For example, they facilitate virtual consultations, reducing patient travel time and expenses and enabling fast access to results and treatment plans. 
  • Improved communication: Engagement tools improve the flow of communication between patients and healthcare teams. 
  • Better continuous care: Digital engagement extends care beyond the doctor’s office. It supports ongoing health management through features like remote monitoring and telehealth services. 
  • Reduced operational costs: Digital tools automate routine tasks, including appointment scheduling, patient registration, and follow-ups. Automation cuts down on administrative work, lowering operational costs and freeing resources for more meaningful, patient-facing tasks. 

These benefits combined pave the way for improved health and wellness. Research links patient engagement with better health outcomes. 

FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: Key Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience 

4 Digital Patient Engagement Tools Your Practice Needs

In the digital age of healthcare, technology streamlines operations and improves patient care. 

Here are four high-value digital patient engagement tools every practice needs. 

1. Automated Appointment Reminders

Automated appointment reminders notify patients of upcoming appointments by text, email, or phone call, depending on their preferences. 

Notifications are accurate and timely because the system connects with your practice’s scheduling software.  

Benefits for patients: 

  • Fewer missed appointments: Patients are less likely to forget their appointments, meaning they are more likely to get the care they need when they need it. 
  • Added convenience: Patients are busy. They appreciate the ease of getting reminders on their phones or email. They can quickly check the message and confirm or reschedule. 

Benefits for practices: 

  • Increased efficiency: Automated reminders save time for staff because they no longer need to phone each patient individually. 
  • Improved patient flow and revenue: By reducing the number of missed appointments, your practice can see more patients as scheduled. You can maintain a smoother patient flow, which, in turn, can lead to increased revenue. 
A healthcare administrator setting up an electronic health record (EHR) system for improved patient engagement

2. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing tools enable real-time visual and audio communication between patients and providers. They integrate with healthcare systems and follow compliance standards like HIPAA

You can conduct consultations, have follow-up discussions, and even perform some examinations remotely. This makes care more accessible for all, but it’s particularly beneficial for patients who: 

  • Live in rural or remote areas 
  • Have limited transportation 
  • Live with mobility challenges 
  • Need frequent appointments 

Benefits for patients: 

  • Greater access to care: Patients can receive care from the comfort of their own homes. 
  • Enhanced interaction: Compared to phone calls, video consults are more personalized. Patients feel connected and supported by their providers. 

Benefits for practices: 

  • Extended reach: You can extend your services to patients beyond your local area. 
  • Improved care coordination: Video conferencing enables better coordination between different healthcare providers. It makes case discussions and consultations more convenient. 

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Engage Patients in Telehealth 

3. Patient Self-Scheduling

Patient self-scheduling allows patients to book, reschedule, or cancel their appointments online. They do this through a secure patient portal

The portal is synced to your calendar. It provides real-time availability to prevent scheduling conflicts. 

Benefits for patients: 

  • More empowerment and convenience: Patients have the freedom to choose appointments that fit their schedule. Plus, they can manage their bookings anywhere, anytime, boosting engagement and satisfaction with the healthcare process. 
  • Reduced wait times: With more control over scheduling, patients experience fewer delays and shorter wait times. 

Benefits for practices: 

  • Increased staff productivity: When scheduling is fully or partially automated, staff have more time. They can focus on delivering superior customer care or dedicate time and effort to growth-driving initiatives. 
  • Fewer no-shows: When patients book their own appointments, they are more likely to remember them. 
  • Optimized time management: Efficient scheduling maximizes the use of available appointment slots. 

4. Payment Reminders

Payment reminders inform patients of upcoming or overdue payments. These reminders are sent automatically via text or email. 

Payment reminders tie into your billing software to ensure patients clearly understand their financial obligations. They know exactly how much they owe, the services they are paying for, and when the funds are due. 

Benefits for patients: 

  • Increased clarity: Payment reminders help patients understand their payment obligations, mitigating confusion and anxiety associated with medical billing. 
  • Avoidance of late fees: These tools help prevent late payments. Patients can avoid late fees and disruptions in their care. 

Benefits for practices: 

  • Improved cash flow: Reminders increase the likelihood of receiving payments on time, which helps with cash flow management so you can cover day-to-day expenses. In addition, stable cash flow enables accurate forecasting. You can make informed decisions about investments in technology, extra staff, or new equipment. 
  • Reduced administrative burden: Automated reminders decrease the time staff members spend on billing inquiries and follow-ups. 

RELATED ARTICLE: The Role of Mobile Apps in Healthcare Patient Engagement 

How You Can Start Implementing Digital Patient Engagement Tools Right Now

Implementing digital patient engagement tools can seem daunting. Here are 5 actionable steps to help you get started: 

1. Assess Your Practice’s Needs

Consider the specific needs of your practice by reviewing your current patient engagement processes and identify areas that need improvement. 

Are appointment no-shows a frequent issue? Could your billing process be more streamlined? This insight will guide you in selecting the right tools. 

Take action now: Review your last quarter’s operational challenges and patient feedback. Highlight three aspects to focus on. 

2. Consider Your Patients’ Needs

Each practice has a unique patient demographic. Determine your patient base’s needs, preferences, and challenges. 

For example, older patients might prefer more direct communication methods like phone calls. Younger generations might lean toward digital communication

Take action now: Review your appointment and communication logs over the past few months to find trends and preferences. Adjust your methods accordingly to better meet your patients’ needs. 

3. Use Analytics to Identify Bottlenecks

Leverage data analytics to identify inefficiencies in your current processes using software that tracks patient flow, appointment scheduling efficiency, or even billing cycles. 

Take action now: Invest in or start a trial with an analytics service.  
Ensure that it integrates well with your practice management software before committing. 

4. Get Feedback on Current Engagement Levels

Understanding how engaged your patients feel today can inform your digital strategy moving forward. 

A survey exploring satisfaction with current processes and openness to using digital tools can provide valuable insights. 

Take action now: Use a free solution like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to create and send a survey. Check the results. Are your patients ready for digital patient engagement tools? 

5. Prioritize Tools That Offer the Greatest Impact

Select tools that will deliver the greatest value based on feedback and data collected. Which will have the most significant impact on patient care? Which will empower your practice’s efficiency? 

You may choose to start with just one or two tools. Small changes can make a big difference. 

Take action now: Conduct a trial run of selected digital tools with a small group of patients. Track the results and gather feedback to assess the impact before implementing them across your practice. 

About the Author

Kelsey Zaporowski

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