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Guide to Client Engagement Strategy & Best Practices

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As a wellness professional, facilitating change takes more than one consultation. Building a rapport is crucial, so that patients trust you and your process, to create lasting outcomes.  Engaging with your patients as you work together lets you give them the feedback and support they need to stay motivated and make changes. You’ll find that as you engage with patients, retention is improved, and a real trusting relationship can be established. 

As healthcare technology has developed, these touch-points with clients can extend beyond just face-to-face appointments.  With client engagement platforms and mobile health apps, healthcare providers can continue to communicate with clients virtually in-between appointments to provide comprehensive and holistic care.  

We’ve put together a guide on incorporating a client engagement strategy into your business or organization, including patient engagement benefits, what to look for in a client engagement platform, and how to engage with clients.  

What is client engagement? 

Client engagement is a general term used to describe clients actively participating in their health and wellness. In place of providing one-directional healthcare recommendations, implementing a client engagement strategy allows healthcare professionals to receive input (and information) from patients and to work collaboratively to create a wellness plan. In a two-way flow of information, healthcare providers can provide personalized care, and patients are more likely to adhere to these recommendations. 

In another, modern way, patient engagement means the ability to deliver care when patients most need it: in real-time. With advances in technology and telehealth, healthcare providers can work with patients in real-time by providing video calls and message support, monitoring patient progress through wearable fitness trackers, and delivering patient education electronically. 

Benefits of Client Engagement for your Business

Aside from benefiting your clients’ wellness journey, adding a client engagement platform  to your business is a great way to add additional revenue streams, and increase the return on investment for the software.  Many providers add patient engagement services, such as reviewing journals entries and answering chat messages, as a concierge service in addition to appointments.  These may be services you were already providing to clients for free and spending a significant amount of time working on.  Charging for these services allows you to get paid for your time, bring in additional income, and offset the cost of your client engagement platform.  

Adding client engagement could potentially increase your client base as well; research shows that 2 out of 3 patients would consider switching to a physician who offers access to medical records through a secure internet connection.  Clients are eager to take an active role in the wellness journey; almost 75% of patients said that if they could access their health information online, they would have a better understanding of their health.  By being a provider who offers the ability to track and monitor health information and engage with clients through a patient portal,  you’ll be set apart from other providers.   

Selecting a Client Engagement Platform

As you begin to research patient engagement software, you’ll quickly realize that most systems offer a host of features, capabilities, and cater to different specialties. First and foremost, your client engagement platform should be HIPAA-compliant and cloud-based, so that you and your clients can rest assured their information is secure, yet easily accessible. 

To help get you started, think of what is essential for your wellness practice.  What features does your team absolutely need, and which ones would be convenient add-ons?  The ideal client engagement platform for your organization will check-off all of the boxes in your “need” list, and most of the features in your “want” list.  Common client engagement features providers look for can include:

  • Secure patient portal 
  • Telehealth (individual and/or group) 
  • Message support between patient and wellness provider(s)
  • Patient monitoring (connecting to wearable fitness trackers) 
  • Patient logging (ie. food journaling and symptom tracking) 
  • Patient metrics and progress tracking (ie. goal setting) 
  • Easy share of client educational resources 
  • Programs and online client education courses 

A comprehensive client engagement platform should also include features beyond just engagement to streamline business operations.  Some features that may be beneficial include: calendar and scheduling, telehealth appointments, E-prescribing, supplement recommendations, and integrations with wearable technology.  A platform integrated with these features will allow you to support your clients throughout their health journey, beyond just basic engagement. 

Looking to upgrade your client engagement software? Check out our comprehensive guide to upgrading your patient engagement software, complete with strategies for pitching the idea to leadership, research-backed statistics supporting engagement, and what to look for in a platform. 

Creating A Client Engagement Strategy

1. Chat

Face-to-face sessions with patients usually include a recap of their trials and tribulations since their last visit.  While it is essential to their progress to review these challenges, engaging with your patients between sessions allows you to address challenges as they happen.  Real-time support is a powerful motivator for wellness patients. 

A review of research studies from 2014 showed that patient-provider messaging increased client self-efficacy and self-management in patients who had ailments such as back pain, dyspnea, and heart failure. Another review of studies showed that not only did using telehealth help increase weight reduction, but frequent and personal interactions may also benefit weight loss results.  

Effective and consistent client engagement using a messaging platform allows you to build a trusting rapport with clients so that you can create lasting outcomes. Consistently checking-in with your patients as you work together lets you give them the feedback and support they need to stay motivated and make changes. You’ll find that as you engage with patients, retention is improved, and a real trusting relationship can be established. 

2. Metrics Tracking

Tracking metrics with your clients not only allows a more personalized approach to care but can also be a huge motivator for them. Using a more relevant and data-driven approach will help patients feel confident in their progress, and propel them to continue working on their goals. Once your patients see their results forming, it will give them motivation and align them to stay determined and focused throughout their entire journey. 

Metrics tracking provides space for client engagement, as it holds clients responsible for monitoring their progress.  While healthcare providers can still update relevant metrics post-sessions for clients to view, asking patients to self-monitor and log recommended metrics provides them an active role in their healthcare journey.  

3. Journal Logging

In healthcare, having patients have a photo food journal is one of the most powerful tools in coaching patients to long-term dietary change. Add accountability by checking in on a patient’s food journal through the platform right after they log. Reviewing a patient’s food logs will reveal important details about their dietary habits, portions, and the nutritional quality of their meals. For healthcare providers, this information is invaluable in guiding patients towards realistic goals.  

Beyond logging meals, patients can also have the ability to log other valuable information for their healthcare provider. This can include symptoms, habits, activity, and more. With all of this information available through a patient portal, the entire healthcare team can leverage this data to provide more personalized and comprehensive client care. 

4. Goal Setting

Beyond logging meals, patients can also have the ability to log other valuable information for their healthcare provider. This can include symptoms, habits, activity, and more. With all of this information available through a patient portal, the entire healthcare team can leverage this data to provide more personalized and comprehensive client care. 

Having the ability to monitor goals through your EHR/patient engagement software is proven to be instrumental in sustainable patient progress: goal setting has been shown to be effective in helping adults achieve changs in their dietary or physical activity behaviors.  Additionally, goal setting interventions that included SUPPORT from a provider were much more effective than those in which patients set goals and worked on them individually.  

5. Care Plans

Care plans first and foremost allow treatment recommendations (and resources) to be communicated in a patient-friendly manner. Treatment recommendations can also include written summaries and additional resources, which help to improve a patient’s understanding. Both improving patient knowledge, and increasing patient-provider communication, serve as strategies in improving patient adherence.  

By sharing a care plan with a patient, including actionable goals they can work towards, patients instantly become active participants in their care. Marking off goals that they’ve managed to accomplish adds a level of accountability, and also serves as a strong indicator of patient progress. More than looking at metrics alone (such as weight) both providers and patients are able to see progress over time as patients actively make progress towards their Care Plan goals. 

With consistent progress towards wellness goals and consistent adherence to treatment recommendations, patients are able to achieve long-term health improvements. 

Healthie’s Client Engagement Platform

Used by thousands of healthcare providers worldwide, our members use our core features to build relationships with patients.  In addition to a comprehensive client engagement suite, Healthie’s EHR and back-office features, such as billing, insurance, scheduling, and analytics, allow our providers to run their business and engage with clients seamlessly, using the same platform. Healthie’s cloud-based web and mobile platform designed specifically for wellness give clinics::

  • A secure patient portal: patients receive a secure login to their own portal, which they can access from any web browser or the mobile app 
  • Telehealth through Zoom: offer virtual counseling for individuals, families, and groups with our HIPAA-compliant integration with Zoom (members in your organization do not need a separate login or Zoom account to utilize) 
  • Modern client engagement tools: enables patient journaling, photo-based food logging (that healthcare providers can comment on), document sharing, secure provider-patient messaging 
  • Internal and external communication: message with patients to provide advice and ongoing support, communicate across providers and assistants, host community (group) messages 
  • Online client education: share documents automatically with clients, such as videos, PDFs, word documents, handouts, and more. Build automated online programs and courses for your clients to make complex healthcare topics easily digestible for your client base. 

To learn more about how Healthie’s telehealth and client engagement platform can transform how your organization delivers healthcare, schedule a call with our team, email hello@gethealthie.com

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