Patient engagement is critical to the ongoing success of treatment of patients, so tying it to reimbursement makes sense. There are several positive correlations when linking reimbursement to patient engagement, but there are a few problems. Focusing on increasing patient engagement is important, but you must be alert for any negative outcomes.
One of the measurable benefits of patient engagement is lower costs. When patients are more knowledgeable about their healthcare, they become more engaged, therefore they seek preventative services. By providers and healthcare facilities taking an active role in engaging patients, they will ultimately decrease the cost to their patients through improved outcomes. Studies have shown a direct link between patient activation and improved outcomes, consequently a measurement of patient level of activation can be adopted as an intermediate measure for delivery and payment structures.
Though there are positive correlations when linking reimbursement to patient engagement, there are some potential negative outcomes to be aware of. Patient satisfaction surveys can provide beneficial information, but do not necessarily equate to quality care. The significant variations of patient complaints could have a negative effect on reimbursement. Differing patient populations among healthcare organizations can generate poor scores, which are not a true reflection of the quality of care. For example, behavioral health patients have significantly lower patient satisfaction scores, but this may be a result of the patient being on a legal hold or desiring more medications than warranted. In these situations, focusing on satisfying every complaint could ultimately create more problems. Patient satisfaction surveys in this case can be a poor way to judge quality and dictate reimbursement as compared to a facility without behavioral health patients.
Patient engagement is far more valuable from a financial perspective than most organizations realize. Be sure that your organization is embracing technology to help increase patient engagement. Offer scheduling through their patient portal, send reminders for appointments, and ensure your staff are clearly defining their financial responsibility and their treatment options. All these policies will increase patient engagement and boost reimbursement.
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