Healthcare experts report recent growth in patient care gaps, a trend that, without intervention, will increase the likelihood of poor health outcomes. Over the past year, in conjunction with COVID-19, social distancing practices and care prioritization have further slowed routine care and screenings. “Care gaps can result in missed or delayed diagnosis, and subsequently more costly and potentially more invasive treatment down the line,” explains Patient Engagement HIT’s Sara Heath.
Providers and health systems, says Heath, can leverage patient engagement strategies to ensure adherence to a proper care management plan and guideline-recommended services. As cited by Patient Engagement HIT, these practices include:
- “Risk stratification, or the practice of segmenting patient populations on their likelihood of falling ill,” writes Heath. Health systems can use data to identify care gaps and build targeted approaches for each patient group;
- Personalized patient communication that aligns with an individual’s preferred contact method and frequency of outreach;
- Patient education that emphasizes the benefits of preventive care, as well as services and screenings specific to an individual’s risk factors and care needs; and
- Identifying and addressing social determinants of health, such as geographic location, racial bias and income, that prevent certain populations from accessing routine care. Heath recommends developing interventions that remove these barriers.
MLMIC recognizes that effective communication practices, providing patient education and prioritizing patients’ health needs are vital components of successful medical practices. We advise our insureds to continuously monitor the effectiveness of their patient engagement and address any areas that may perpetuate gaps in care. Additionally, we offer a number of resources that can be beneficial in formulating an approach:
- Effective Communication with Patients, a risk management tip for promoting effective patient-physician communication;
- Promoting Adherence to a Medication Regimen, a risk management tip for managing patient nonadherence to a prescribed medication regimen;
- Communicating with Low Health Literacy Patients, a risk management tip for effective communication with patients with limited knowledge and understanding of medical terminology;
- Risk Management Tip: Utilizing Telehealth in Your Practice, a blog post with recommendations for engaging patients via telehealth encounters; and
- Managing Patient Noncompliance, a risk management tip for addressing underlying issues related to noncompliance.