In this brave new world of value-based healthcare delivery, hospitals and health systems are focused on prevention and wellness as one of the primary goals for improving health outcomes.
The problem: patients often don’t heed doctors’ advice for following preventive-focused lifestyle or treatment plans. According to the Healthy World Report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health,” 83 percent of people say they don’t do what their doctors tell them. Moreover, a mere five percent of doctors said they would give their patients an A grade for following through.
Many patients, however, want to do better, as almost 40 percent say they would follow doctors’ advice if they got some kind of reminder or nudge from those doctors between their visits. Basically, patients are saying, “I am having a really hard time doing this. But, I would do a better job sticking to it if my doctor helped by reminding me and encouraging me along the way.”
The solution: stop being reactive. Health systems can proactively engage patients, but they need a systematic approach to do so – one that helps them assess a patient’s risk level and automate personalized communications so they can engage more, if not all, of their patients on a regular basis. Engagement communications can take the form of automated phone calls, text messages or emails between visits to keep patients on track with their treatment plans, prompt them to refill prescriptions or remind them to schedule preventive screenings and keep already-scheduled appointments.
Activating patients for wellness and prevention is easier than it sounds. Ochsner Health System, for example, is using its appointment reminder system to engage and activate patients to get the colorectal cancer screenings their doctors have ordered. The strategy is simple: send an automated phone notification letting patients know they are eligible and remind them to schedule the test. The results are impressive. In just two months, Ochsner scheduled 578 colorectal test screenings. More importantly, since there is an expected 25 percent pre-cancerous polyp detection rate, an estimated 145 patients benefited from early detection as a result of these exams. Not surprisingly, patients expressed appreciation for this outreach, saying if they were not nudged or reminded, they would not have completed this important preventive test.
Take a page out of the Ochsner book and get started by leveraging automated technology to successfully prompt patients to schedule important preventive screenings. Like Ochsner, the majority of health systems already have appointment reminder systems in place. Taking your program to the next level is a simple matter of maximizing that technology to engage and empower patients to take a more proactive role in their own prevention and wellness. Don’t wait. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. When you take that approach, everyone wins.