Monthly Archives: August 2014

How your website can help with patient engagement

Patient engagement may seem complicated but  is basically how you get patients involved in their own healthcare. It covers a range of topics from providing the essential information needed to keep fit and well to how you communicate directly with patients. Because Patient Engagement covers such a wide range of topics it can be difficult to understand how you can engage with patients through your website.

The most important part of good patient engagement is getting the basics right. Get these things right and you can improve patient satisfaction, lower health costs and improve practice efficiency.

1)    Information

Going back to basics, for a good website you need to provide up to date surgery and clinic opening times. You can even go one step further and advertise preventative care information, letting everyone know when they should pop in for a health check or a cancer screening.

Now that’s sorted for really good engagement you need to provide, high quality well researched and regularly updated content. Which can be tough, you’re busy and updating website content regularly is a big job; this is where you can cheat a little. By linking your website to NHS Choices you can help your patients find up to date information on a number of conditions.

2)    Involvement

Involvement is easy; patients want to be involved in their own healthcare. Most people don’t want to see a doctor they’d really rather avoid having an appointment and a big part of healthcare for patients is knowing how they can avoid seeing a doctor. Essentially they want to treat themselves as much as possible addition of NHS Choices to your website doubles up as valuable self help information. NHS Choices tells you what you should do to treat the condition and who you should be contacting for help if it gets worse all very valuable information which can help patients to avoid unnecessary appointments.

3)    Communication

Communicating with patients is important and your online services can become a useful communication tool. As well as allowing them to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions on the go you can allow them to ask the practice a question. This facility can help patients to ask those little admin questions which need to be sorted but can take up valuable phone or appointment time.

Many sites now also send out eNewsletter bulletins letting patients know the latest news via email. This can be especially helpful when contacting patient groups and sending out notification for health screenings.

Reliable Self Help

With preventable diseases becoming a larger part our everyday lives, patients are now expected to take a higher level of responsibility for their own health.

However, it’s a little unfair to expect this of patients if they aren’t provided with the best possible information to help achieve this. Generally, healthcare professionals have been a little lax on providing this for the modern age while there might leaflets galore in the GP surgery sometimes there just isn’t as much information on you GP website.

Thankfully this has been changing as health organisations embrace the need for a reliable online presence. A good example of this is the NHS Choices website which has become a bright shiny beacon for trustworthy health information and easy to follow advice. The beauty of the site is that it isn’t punitive. While it gives advice for patients on touchy subjects such as how to lose weight, drink less and stop smoking, it doesn’t give you a lecture for needing help doing these things. Which is very important, it’s often difficult to accept that it’s your own fault that you’re ill or that something you enjoy is bad for you. So getting advice for a non judgemental source can actively increase the chances of a patient making the right health choice for them. It also improves patient satisfaction, they’re getting the help they want and need while not having to feel like they’re being judged.

Some CCG’s have even gotten in on the action and become centres for helpful information for patients by developing web apps to help them get the best information possible. The Bracknell and Ascot CCG web app has been very successful especially in the provision of minor illness information. It’s even featured on the homepage of the Forest Health Group website, becoming a valuable asset to their fight to reduce A&E admissions and appointments made for minor illnesses.