How To Measure Patient Engagement 

Philip Cleave
August 8, 2022
Healthcare professional asking patient survey questions

From public to private healthcare organizations. When it comes to the nation’s health, healthcare organizations are working extremely hard to achieve better patient experiences and outcomes, against a backdrop of increasing cost pressures and an aging population.

So, any concepts and tools they can use to help make these improvements will be extremely valuable. This is where the concept of patient engagement and the ability to measure and improve it comes in.

What is patient engagement?

When we refer to patient engagement, we’re talking about a process that involves encouraging patients to be more involved and informed in their own healthcare decisions.  Also known as “activated patients”, engaged patients are those actively involved in positive behavior, such as taking more responsibility for their own health and care, through activities including preventative care, a careful diet and regular exercise.

Thanks to its ability to improve health outcomes, achieve lower costs and enhance the patient experience, patient engagement is crucial to the delivery of a successful healthcare service.

Patient engagement examples

From educational literature and instructional videos to apps that allow patients to report pain levels and medication intake, as well as track exercise and movement. When it comes to examples, there are many methods that public and private healthcare organizations can deploy to improve a patient’s engagement with their care and treatment and achieve better healthcare outcomes.

For example, consider a patient that has just been discharged from hospital after a major back operation. When armed with a range of educational material and monitoring apps, to help them better manage their recovery at home along with remote assistance from healthcare professionals, they’re more likely to experience lower pain, shorter recovery times and fewer return hospital visits. Such high-level patient engagement not only benefits patients but also healthcare providers in terms of cost and time efficiencies.

There are plenty of other examples we could reference to address different patient scenarios. However, one the best and often understated engagement methods that works effectively with all patients, irrespective of the illness or treatment they may be undergoing is the patient engagement survey, which is what we’re going to look at next.

The patient engagement questionnaire

The great thing about the patient engagement survey, is that besides being an effective method of reaching out and engaging patients directly, it can help you to measure patients’ current level of engagement.  Identifying this is important, because while some factors can improve patient engagement, others can reduce it.

By improving your understanding of what engages and disengages patients, you’ll be in a much better position to improve your engagement with them and enhance your patient experience. And one of the most important aspects of your questionnaire to help achieve this is the questions you ask for patient feedback.

Patient engagement questions to consider

From hospitals, NHS Trusts and local authorities to GP surgeries, dentists, opticians and more. There are a wide range of institutions and practices, both public and private involved in maintaining the health of our nation. And while some questions will need to be very specific to their area of work, there are some that will be important for any patient engagement survey.

Here are some of these patient engagement survey questions we’re referring to and you should consider for your survey.

Are your language needs being met?

Given the diverse, multicultural nature of many communities in the UK, we need to ensure everyone has equal access to healthcare provision, irrespective of what language they might speak. Language barriers can be tricky, but they need to be overcome, because if a patient can’t understand you, it’s difficult for them to engage with the treatment and care you recommend.

To help with this, some practices advise patients to bring a chaperone with them if they’re struggling to communicate in English. Others have hired professionals who are fluent in the languages frequently spoken by patients in their community.

Whatever, solution you choose to address this, the first place you need to start is to assess what patient language needs you have and whether you’re currently meeting them, which this question will help you to answer.

Are we meeting your accessibility needs?

Similarly, to the previous question, meeting patient’s accessibility needs, is just as important as their communication needs if you’re to effectively engage them.

This includes ensuring your hospital or practice is completely accessible to people with mobility disabilities, as well as those with any other physical impairments such as deafness or blindness. In fact, accessibility is important in all aspects of your healthcare provision include communicating through accessible surveys.

This question will help you to assess the mix of accessibility needs among your own patient group.

Do you feel involved in treatment decisions?

When patients feel like they are an active actor in the decision-making part of their treatment and care, they’re more likely to engage with it.

Simply ensuring healthcare professionals within your practice present and explain different treatment options can make patients feel much more involved.

It’s crucial that patients fully understand what their suggested treatment or care entails, why it’s important and what the benefits will be, along with any potential side-effects. Only then will a patient truly be on-board and invested in their care.

This question will help to you measure how well you’re doing for this aspect of your care.

How easy is it for you to book an appointment when you need to?

Often the barriers to effective patient engagement are simple to spot.

For example, if a patient is unable to easily and conveniently book appointments, they’re less likely to feel engaged with their care.

Asking this question can help you make better choices that affect how you manage your practice, as it will help you to identify problematic trends in staffing or issues with your booking or check in systems.

Are you aware of and able to use our patient self-service portal?

Within many practices, the use of self-service portals is becoming more popular for tasks like booking appointments, looking up basic medical advice, ordering repeat prescriptions and viewing test results. If your practice has one, this question is a must-ask.

Putting this service in patients’ hands engages and makes healthcare more accessible to them. However, this is only achievable if they understand how to use this tool, which this question will help you to find out.

Would you recommend us to family or friends?

Similar to the Net Promoter Score ® which measures customer satisfaction for businesses, this question typically referred to as the Friends and Family Test question in healthcare can measure patient satisfaction with the care and treatment you’ve provided.

In the case of a negative response, it’s useful to provide a follow up question. This can enable you to find out more about why the patient responded the way they did, in order to resolve it.

Much like patient engagement, patient dissatisfaction can be influenced by a wide range of issues, from long queue times to poor consultations and treatment. So, this question is useful to include as another way to get to the heart of any issues your patients may have.

Is there anything else you’d like to communicate?

No survey can cover everything patients might want to talk about. Therefore, it can be useful to end it with an open question. This gives patient’s the chance to talk more freely and provides more insights for you to work with.

Benefits of patient engagement

Whether you operate in the public or the private sector, there are many benefits to be gained from improving patient engagement:

Patients become more actively involved in their own health

Better knowledge and understanding helps encourage patients to become more actively engaged in their own health, well-being. and healthcare choices. This is more likely to result in better health outcomes and a reduction in healthcare visits.

Reduces your volume of no shows

Besides the patient benefits, there’s financial benefits for healthcare providers too, as it helps reduce no-shows, aids in increasing revenue and helps maintain your patient base.

Improves decision-making of healthcare providers

Collaborating and engaging with patients in the decision-making process, helps healthcare providers make better decisions regarding a patient’s health. This helps improve the patient-provider relationship and overall patient retention.

Treatment is even more effective

Through increased engagement doctors can treat patients in the most effective way possible, ultimately becoming more time and cost efficient.

Patient experience improves

When you’re able to increase patient engagement, your understanding of your patients improves too, leading to improved care and better healthcare outcomes for all.

What do your patients think?

There are many benefits to be gained from increasing patient engagement and the quality of experiences you’re able to deliver to patients. Don’t risk damaging your relationship with patients. Capture and measure what they really think and deliver more of what they need.


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