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The Key to Improving Clinic Engagement May Surprise You

While exciting on paper, an onsite clinic program doesn’t deliver much impact if it doesn’t provide a desirable or meaningful experience to its patients. In fact, even a full suite of wellness programs and ancillary services often aren’t enough to promote patient retention and engagement. And if you aren’t convincing patients to return for continued care, your onsite clinic is on an uphill battle to impact population wellness.

So, what does it look like to promote clinic participation and patient engagement? First, it’s important to cover why clinic participation may be waning in the first place. Consider the following reasons why you may see flagging engagement numbers from your employee population.

Making the Conversation Seamless

A lack of communication and visibility between patient and provider is often a substantial factor in missed care opportunities. If an outreach program is not in place that targets employees through standard communication channels (like email, text, and phone), those employees are much less likely to consider (or even be aware of) visiting the clinic for care. On the other hand, it can be seamless to contact people – using their preferred mode of communication – to remind them their onsite healthcare provider can offer health coaching, prescribe medications, perform laboratory testing and discuss their comprehensive health all at little or no cost to them. The purpose of the outreach is to remind people why they should come to the clinic, letting them know that the services they need are easy to access, and that the clinic staff looks forward to working with them to achieve their health goals.

That’s just what Healthstat does through its Enhanced Outreach Program, which groups patients based on their current health status and then customizes the communication channels used for outreach.

This program is most effective when coupled with the Healthstat Standard Compliance Program (HSCP), which determines how often a patient should be seen for clinic visits. For example, a patient with multiple risk factors may expect to visit the clinic biannually or quarterly, while a patient with no risk factors may visit the clinic only once a year.

When combined, the Enhanced Outreach Program and the HSCP result in the highest program participation rates (86%) and average visits per patient (3.86) at Healthstat’s clinics nationwide. By promoting seamless communication between patient and provider, you not only encourage patient agency but lay the foundation for communication that’s the foundation for healthy, long-term change.

Lean on Technology

Patient engagement technology is a valuable investment that should not be overlooked as a means to improving clinic participation. Consider the fact that clinic “no-shows” are often a result of patients feeling that they are not the owners of their own health. Whether this feeling comes from a lack of time, accessibility, or patient education, it contributes greatly to a clinic’s capacity to provide meaningful care.

Clinicians and patients are in accord, however, about the benefits of connective tech as a means of returning agency to the patient. A recent poll noted that 84% of physicians agree that patient engagement tools would be a benefit to their overall health. And, 76% of patients have said that their overall medical practice experience would be improved if the practice implemented patient engagement technology.

Healthstat bridges the knowledge-action gap with its Healthstat Hub, a one-stop web page that makes it easier for patients to access online tools and take control of their own health. This includes programs like the Patient Portal, which schedules appointments, requests Rx, shows lab results and allows direct clinician messaging; the Clinic Visit Frequency Tracker, which reviews past visits and checks on the status of a patient’s incentive programs; and myHS, which tracks a patient’s personal wellness, nutrition, and exercise goals. What’s more: clinic-eligible employees have free access to the Healthstat Hub at participating clinics, and it can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection (including mobile!).

And don’t forget the benefit of wearable fitness technology, which is particularly prominent among the millennial workforce. This technology can be integrated with the Healthstat Hub to provide another talking point between patient and provider. For example, clinicians can readily ask questions like, “How many steps did you take today?” This personal touch allows for more transparent communication between clinician and employee as well as greater autonomy for the employee’s own wellness habits. That kind of engagement is what keep patients returning for care.

Listening to Your Employees

Often, the best way to promote clinic engagement is not through programs, services, or tech, but rather listening to your own workforce. Here are just a few comments from employees of Healthstat clients regarding the value of their onsite clinics, recorded at a management workshop on the topic of workplace wellness:

These appeals can be more than just hearsay from employees, as well. Consider the ways in which the ideas above can be used by clinicians at the point of care to encourage return visits and program adherence. During clinician onboarding, Healthstat supports training in behavior change and motivational interviewing that gives clinicians the conversational tools to best connect with their patients. That onboarding includes studying both logical and emotional appeals as well as focusing on the patient-provider relationship as a mutual partnership.

If you’re curious about the advantages of patient engagement activities and their importance to clinicians, click here.

Making the Patient the Authority

Too often, when patient needs and habits are not the starting point in planning healthcare services, clinic utilization and results wind up being disappointing. In promoting patient engagement, it’s necessary to consider what the employee wants out of the experience. Cast and Hue, an agency that works directly with Healthstat to better understand how its clinics are utilized, asked patients what was most impactful in making access to healthcare easier:

The heart of these findings lies in convenience and accessibility, which has already been covered above. However, the real lesson here is more encompassing: allow your employees to be front and center when you plan the services, programs, and outreach of your onsite clinic(s). Have them be a part of clinic implementation from the beginning. Build your program around patient-centered care. It’s also important to educate your workforce on programs like those offered through a Healthstat partnership – the Healthstat Hub or the Enhanced Outreach Program.

If an employee workforce is unaware of a particular program or service, it doesn’t come as a surprise when that service is not utilized to its fullest extent. By considering your employees from the beginning, you’ll ensure that the clinic being built is one that’s focused on their health and well-being.

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