February is “Wise Healthcare Consumer Month,” which encourages patients to get more involved with their healthcare decisions and options. Your office can use this awareness initiative as an opportunity to educate your current patients and connect with new patients.
Here are a few tips on how you can create wise healthcare consumers and help both current and new patients get more involved with their care.
First, What Are Wise Healthcare Consumers?
Wise healthcare consumers are individuals who are educated on their healthcare needs. They:
- Know how to choose a health care plan that is right for them.
- Know how to choose a doctor or practice that meets their needs.
- Are able to communicate with providers to get the answers and help they need.
- Understand when they need to seek healthcare.
- Participate in preventative care.
- Understand their diagnosed illness and treatment options.
As you go through the following tips and strategies for creating wise healthcare consumers, refer back to this description to ensure that you are giving patients what they need to educate themselves.
Highlight The Benefits of Patient Engagement
To help patients see the value in becoming a wise healthcare consumer, highlight the benefits of patient engagement and using patient portals.
Patient engagement is the rate at which patients are involved in their healthcare treatment plans.
When patient engagement is high, so is patient wellness. Patients who are involved with their healthcare decisions take better care of themselves, receive more preventative care, and have better healthcare outcomes.
Patient portals are online tools that enable patients to manage their healthcare, often through provider communication and educational resources.
Using patient portals makes it easier to manage and monitor personal healthcare. Patients can use portals to manage and research their prescriptions, schedule appointments, manage payments, and review their medical history.
When patients have a high engagement rate and are using the patient portals available to them, they will be more likely to be wise healthcare consumers.
Want to celebrate Wise Consumer Healthcare Month at your practice? We've made some custom posts for Facebook and Twitter that you can download and use right here!
Make It Easy for Healthcare Consumers to Find Answers
Part of being an engaged healthcare consumer is asking questions and seeking information. Support those initiatives by making it easy for patients to find information about your practice.
Be prepared to answer the following questions.
- What insurance do you accept? Make it easy for patients to find out if your office includes their insurance.
- What is your area of expertise? Beyond a list of conditions you treat, highlight what makes you different from other practices. Promote your unique medical experience or equipment and share differentiators such as a bilingual, extended hours, etc.
- What are your medical affiliations? Allow patients to see what other healthcare providers or hospitals you have relationships with.
- What are your office hours and emergency appointment protocol? Tell patients what they can expect during a routine visit and list procedures for emergency or after-hours care needs.
- What preventative care services do you offer? List the options your practice provides to patients who want to be proactive about their health care.
Your website and staff should be equipped to answer these questions so that current and new patients can quickly find the information they need.
Help Patients Get the Most Out of Their Appointments
To create wise healthcare consumers, give patients the tools to get the most out of their appointments. Share information that helps people prepare before they arrive at your office.
- Bring health insurance cards. Appointments are easier and quicker to process when patients have their relevant insurance information. Clearly explain what information they will need and encourage them to bring it.
- Write down concerns, symptoms, and questions. When patients get in the office, it’s easy for them to forget the things they wanted to talk about. So ask them to make a list of talking points before they arrive so they don’t miss any important question or concern.
- Don’t be shy or embarrassed. It’s important for patients to be extremely forthcoming with details about their health. Encourage patients to be open and honest during their appointments so providers can get all of the details of their situation.
- Ask questions when you have questions. Sharing information is just as important as receiving information. Encourage questions during appointments so patients don’t leave with unanswered concerns or confusion.
- Take notes. Information may seem crystal clear while a doctor or nurse is talking, but many patients forget the details when they leave their appointment. Invite patients to take notes and write down information during their appointment.
- Ask about costs. Invite patients to ask questions about the costs of care - whether prescriptions or procedures. As high-deductible health plans become more commonplace, patients have more incentive to shop for both quality and price.
Provide these best practices to new patients and publish them on your website for future references.
Promote Wise Healthcare Consumer Month
As you ramp up your Wise Healthcare Consumer Month initiatives, promote it in your office and out.
Promote to your current patients. Reach out to your current patients through email or direct mail and send an informational packet that explains the benefits of patient engagement and how your office promotes it. Also, add digital signage content in your healthcare practice that promotes the initiative.
Reach out to wellness directors at large companies. Companies with hundreds of employees often have a team member who is dedicated to helping promote and maintain the wellness of their employees. Reach out to these staff members and offer information that can help them educate their employees.
Send a press release to local media. Newspaper, magazines, and television news stations often share stories about wellness initiatives. Make your practice the authority on the topic by reaching out to local media and offering one of your providers or office managers for interviews. Send a press release with information on Wise Healthcare Consumer Month and what patients can do to improve their knowledge regarding their wellness. News outlets may share your information or ask you to be interviewed in print or on air.
Creating smarter, wiser, more involved patients comes with many benefits.
It improves the lives of patients, makes things easier on healthcare providers, and can even decrease healthcare costs. So support Wise Healthcare Consumer Month this February by offering information and support to new and current patients so they can begin to improve their health and wellbeing.
Want More Tips on Improving the Lives of Your Patients?
Our latest ebook explains how to delight current patients and attract new ones by providing engaging and exceptional patient experiences. Get the 2017 Guide to Outpatient Customer Experience here.