Consumer engagement has become the Holy Grail of healthcare as we collectively move from a fee-for-service to a pay-for-performance model. We know that consumer engagement increases loyalty. We know that it reduces costs. Most importantly, we know that it can even improve outcomes. Unfortunately, providers often overlook key actions that help ensure their clients are involved in and committed to the process of making them whole.
So, what are the most vital components of consumer engagement? There are three:
- The Two-way Street – It’s all too common for organizations to set up a client portal and assume “if we build it, they will come.” That might’ve worked in Field of Dreams, but to get your clients engaged you must be engaged as well. That means committing to the use of the given tool and talking with your staff about it. It also means being sold on the value. If you don’t feel that way about a particular engagement tool and you don’t use it, your clients won’t feel that way or use it either. By the way, if you’re embracing consumer engagement tools purely to meet Meaningful Use requirements and not with the benefits to your clients in mind, you’re not yet a believer.
- Showing Them – If you believe in your engagement tools (see vital component No. 1), take the time to introduce them to your clients. Explain how the tools will be valuable to them, show them how to use the tools, and – I’m going to stress this point – continue to market them in subsequent visits and other communication.
- Making It Mobile – We live in a wireless world. You may be sold on your consumer engagement tools and committed to teaching your staff and clients how to use them. But if the tools don’t have mobile options that allow for integration with other aspects of health (post-acute with acute), they’re simply not going to be valuable to your clients on a long-term basis. For example, a mobile consumer engagement tool that demonstrates how the tracking of moods can be tied to physical health is a huge selling point for the current age of consumers.
I encourage you to think a moment about the word “engaging.” It means, appealing or pleasing … something that encourages participation. If you want your engagement tools to be appealing to your clients, they must be appealing to you. Show your staff and clients how to use the tools and make sure they work with mobile devices.