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Patient disengagement

Understanding the why

Sarah BrownPatient engagement, patient centricity, patient focus... Understand what these mean, apply them to our work and we’ll be able to positively impact on patients’ lives, right? It’s not so simple.

It’s easy to achieve patient engagement if you actually have an engaged patient to start with. But what if you don’t? Instead we should look at those disengaged patients and ask ‘why?’. Why
are they not adhering to their treatment? Why are they less interested in their health? Why are they not empowered to follow what the doctor has advised?

There are many barriers to engagement.

But at the heart of them are typically three key things:

  • They lack knowledge or skills – a classic pharma default to overcome this: ‘we must educate, educate, educate’
  • The environment that they live and work in does not facilitate an optimal health experience
  • And the big one – they don’t have the motivation, the driver to actually do something at different points in time. Designing
    an informed solution is vital.
    If we are to drive engagement, we need to understand
    which of these, or which combination of these, is making patients disengaged. Let’s look at an example.

Around 30% of us don’t seek medical help because its not convenient – we can’t book appointments online or simply don’t have the time.

I am one of them. I have worked in healthcare for over ten years. I therefore feel that I am fairly knowledgeable about health and the importance of wellness, and empowered to be the master of my healthcare.

Knowledge and motivation are not the problem.

But, give me a reason to actually go and see a doctor, and that’s
a different story. Case in point: after recently signing up to a new GP surgery, I asked if I could set up online appointment booking. “Oh no,” she said, “you have

to wait at least two weeks until you’re on the system, then you can come back in and do it.”
The environment wasn’t working in my favour. I left the surgery pretty sure I would be going there only if absolutely required.

What I need is
the option to take care of my health in a way that suits my lifestyle.

So three weeks later, when I actually needed a doctor, I came across and tried Push Doctor
– one of the recent examples
of online doctor consultation services. Within seven minutes
I had registered, booked an appointment and was video- calling a GP.

Within four more minutes,
she had given me a diagnosis, prescribed medication, and emailed the prescription through to my nearest open pharmacy. An hour later I received an email to let me know that I could go and pick up my medication.

I was genuinely amazed. Here was eHealth in all its glory. And although this type of efficiency and convenience does not come for free, it is a beautiful example of how technology can remove the environmental barriers that
I, and others like me, face when trying to stay on top of our health.

So, the next time you set about a new patient engagement initiative, or begin planning for that next patient support tool, ask yourself ‘why are my patients disengaged in the first place?’ Understand that, and you can then develop the best solution for them. Or call us. Patient engagement is what we do best.

Sarah Brown is client services director at Frontera London.

In association withFrontera

24th October 2017

From: Healthcare

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