Can you afford not to invest in digital patient engagement?

Guest post by Tom Scaletta, M.D., medical director of patient experience and the emergency department chair at Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare, a health system that comprises three hospitals and serves 1.7 million residents in the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago.

Even though the percentage of self-pay and uninsured patients in emergency departments (EDs) is falling--especially in states participating in Medicaid expansion--many hospitals continue to struggle with collections and bad debt as economic growth remains slow. However, healthcare organizations that pay attention to follow-up strategies that specifically target discharged ED patients may improve their ability to keep satisfied patients within the organization's network and enhance collections.

Patients and their families usually appreciate the use of a digital patient engagement system that offers the dual benefits of checking on patient well-being while also providing opportunities for satisfaction feedback. These systems typically present patients with a short, three- to six-question survey the day after discharge, delivered via text or email. Patients are normally asked how they are feeling, if they have any questions concerning their post-discharge care, and asked to rate both their providers and overall care experience.

This empathetic outreach not only helps build trust and loyalty among new and existing patients, it also creates a good business model. That's because improving the patient experience pays dividends not only clinically, but financially as well.

>> Read the full commentary at Hospital Impact