10 Feb Increasing Home Health Care Patient Engagement
Tips for tailoring patient care for greater outcomes
Great patient experience, caregiver awareness, and communication are pillars of successful agencies
In 2023, agencies have been chatting up strategies on how to handle business growth and caregiver retention. In this edition of the thrive blog, it’s time to talk about arguably the most important component of home health care, patients. The very reason we work is to provide exceptional care and compassion to those who need our services. Patient care is the act of preventing, treating, and managing illness. Often we are held solely accountable for the outcome of our patients, but we must include them in their health journey. How exactly do we activate our patients and get them engaged in their care? These three tips can help you establish a highly effective level of patient engagement that can become the standard for your home health care operation.
TIP #1 – TALK
It can’t be said enough…Talk, Talk, Talk.
We communicate daily to achieve our most basic needs. We express our appreciation for our staff and employees by saying “Thank you”. We solve problems by asking “What’s wrong?” and we meet people’s needs by simply asking “How can I help?”
These questions are small yet impactful. Reaching out to your patients with a simple “thank you”, “how can we improve our services?” or a sincere “what can we do for you?” is so easy. Asking these questions will not only give you great feedback, but will also show your patients that their voice matters, and that their caregiver cares.
Talking with your patients is the first step to developing an open relationship. Every conversation between a patient and provider is vital, and builds trust while establishing a reliable, personalized relationship. This gives you the opportunity to tailor care to your individual patient, while building a reputation that can stand out from other experiences a patient may have had with less vested nurse, clinicians, or agencies. If your patient has the courage and trust to address their health concerns openly and comfortably, then you’ve created a climate for optimal patient care. Ensure each member of your caregiving staff builds relationships rather than simply checking off tasks with each and every person they serve.
TIP #2 – TAILOR
Tailors and dressmakers make and alter clothes to fit the individual. In exactly the manner in which a tailor customizes a suit that fits their subject to perfection, that’s what you want to do with your patient. Standardized “one size fits all ” care in the home health spectrum is ineffective and impersonal, and doesn’t work for every patient, which can negatively affect not only your agency’s bottom line in terms of attracting new patients, but also your ability to keep current ones.
The goal of tailored care is to improve health outcomes.
By taking into consideration individuals and their preferences when developing a care plan, you can really activate a patient to be engaged in their care AND invested in your agency’s success. Happy patients, referrals, better outcomes, and good reviews are all an extension of intentional tailored care. As an example, a patient may be religious or have cultural values that can impact their patient experience and influence their decision when it comes to treatments. Just alike you may have a patient that is extremely particular, and you want to show them that their habits are respected. Your job as a provider is to provide a crafted and organized plan for your patient to follow. Some ways that you can do this are as follows:
- Create a game plan: This can be making schedules, asking about activities patients enjoy, for example: You may have a patient that enjoys attending church on Sundays, so they would prefer to see a provider later in the afternoon on Sundays. Give some attention to figuring out what medicine works for them and what their diet will consist of, as the little things can have a large impact.
- Work together: Open a forum for your patient to speak candidly about what is working and what is not working for them, and be open to make adjustments.
- Strengthen the team: Does the patient have family or friends that would like to be included in their health outcome? They may even have pets that can encourage and influence them to stay healthy. The little details make a difference.
TIP #3 – TEACH
Teach, Teach and Teach again.
We are so busy managing patient care that we sometimes forget to give patients the power to engage in their health journey. Maybe you’re familiar with the quote: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.
It is so important to show and explain to your patients how they can help themselves. The outcome of limited patient engagement is that patients who aren’t engaged in their care are more likely to have unmet needs. Many patients are detached from their own care due to lack of being taught how to take care for themselves, and additionally they may have no true understanding of their medical conditions. Your agency’s nurses and clinicians can change this by giving them access to tools and resources that can improve their health literacy. Patients who are engaged with their health journey are able to better self manage illness, get involved in their diagnosis, and work as a team with providers and caregivers. Teaching patients how to take the lead in their health care can improve their health outcomes. Tools to assist with this include:
- Make healthcare readable and simple: We have to speak to patients like we are speaking to people and not problems. This means simplifying medical vocabulary and making it easy for the patient to understand what they are taking or what exactly is happening to them.
- Give a demo: This is a perfect time for show and tell! As providers we may get lost in the telling and not so much showing the patient what they need to do.
- Repeat: Practice makes perfect: Reassurance is also an important part of any relationship. A patient may need to be encouraged a few times before they have the confidence to take their health into their own hands, and that’s where you come in to repeatedly encourage them that they are capable.
Summary : Make intentional patient engagement a standard
Care is only one step in the path to helping a patient achieve their healthcare goals. Empowering patients with encouragement, information, patience, and positive reinforcement to participate in their own care is a win/win for the patient and your agency. Effective patient engagement is simply a plan to increase the patient’s understanding, capacity and will to participate in their care, which should be key components of treatment. Arming patients with key health information, education and resources will help you provide them with the best care, which should be the key goal of your, and every successful home health care agency.
Author’s Note: Views, information, and guidance in this resource are intended for information only. We are not rendering legal, financial, accounting, medical, or other professional advice. Alora disclaims any liability to any third party and cannot make any guarantee related to the content.
Want to read more blogs patient care, staff retention and training?
- Five facts about caregiver burnout that will startle you
- Being personable, how your agency can stand out
- Creating magnetic job postings to attract nurses to your agency
- Preventing caregiver turnover in your home health agency
- Ten best ways to show caregiver appreciation
- Dealing with the shortage of caregivers in home health care
- Caregiver training – six key practices to get nurses off to a good start
- Work/life balance tips for clinicians
Alora home health software is ideal for agencies operating in both skilled and non-skilled care. Alora empowers agencies to grow and thrive with the essential tools that make workflow easier and more efficient, allowing your staff to focus on delivering the highest level of patient care.