Feb 1, 2018

Editor’s note: Steven Schwartz, manager of clinical research and evaluation at EnvoyHealth, contributed to this post.

Few buzzwords are more fashionable in healthcare than access and engagement. While these terms mean different things to different stakeholders, one thing is always true: Understanding patients’ challenges and experiences is key to keeping them engaged in their health journey.

You cannot address access and engagement without understanding human motivation. Addressing motivation must be fundamental to any solution.

With healthcare shifting to a more patient-centered model, consumers are becoming more savvy and engaged. With this engagement comes higher expectations; satisfaction and continued engagement only come when interactions bring value to both parties.

Unfortunately, patients and families—particularly those managing chronic conditions—often come away from healthcare interactions confused and frustrated.

Understanding the Patient Experience

To keep patients engaged, we must find more efficient ways to understand how they are adapting, address points of friction, and provide an experience that brings greater value for patients’ time, effort, and money.

How can we do this? First, we must accept that healthcare engagement requires connecting with patients—like how we connect deeply with others in our daily lives. Developing a high-value, hands-on approach to access and engagement is neither trivial nor easy.

Below are five strategies to improve patient-level access and engagement:

1. Start with evidence.

A wealth of data is available to inform the design of a better healthcare experience. Programs often fail because they ignore this valuable research or can’t translate findings into a healthcare context.

2. Ease points of friction.

Treatment barriers are among the biggest deterrents patients face in healthcare. When a patient is unsatisfied with their care, they typically will not return or stay engaged.

3. Promote intrinsic motivation.

Health is not top-of-mind for most people unless they are seriously and symptomatically ill. In many cases, your audience is beginning their journey uninterested in change. Others might feel compelled by outside forces such as a doctor, spouse, or employer.

4. Build a compelling core loop.

Typically a mobile-gaming concept, a “core loop” is a set actions that determine how the game flows. A well-designed loop establishes clear cues to actions that result in rewarding experiences.

A core loop begins with the expectation of value—a clear and compelling reason to start the loop. This is tied to a cue that prompts users to return to the loop in ways that make it easy to start and restart. This forms habit.

You have a compelling core loop when participants leave with positive experience and a strong desire to repeat the loop. Maintaining good health takes consistent, daily habits, so a core loop is a great model for the kind of engagement needed in healthcare.

5. Measure, test, and iterate.

Adopt a data-driven, evaluative approach that measures processes and outcomes. This ensures an understanding of patient needs and ability to meet those needs with a rewarding experience.

Feedback is an essential evaluative step. As the needs of each unique patient evolve, your approach should evolve too. Applying rigorous evaluative and interpretive methods is the only way to know whether you have hit the mark with your audience.

Predicting the Patient Journey

Keeping patients engaged in their health journey is beneficial to all parties. To develop an effective and engaging program for your patients, you must understand the patient experience in its totality—including how it changes.

As an evidence-based, data-driven organization, EnvoyHealth emphasizes understanding patient challenges. Our clinical research services are designed to operationalize and solve real-world problems.

EnvoyHealth thrives at understanding and predicting the patient journey. We have the resources and knowledge to inform clients about their patients’ experiences, behaviors, and motivations.

With a full suite of clinical research services, discover what EnvoyHealth can do to help you understand your patients better.