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What is Patient Engagement? Benefits, Strategies, and Solutions

What is PE?  Benefits  Strategies  Software & Tech

Patient engagement plays a major role in the success of your clinic. Take a deep dive into what patient engagement looks like in urgent care, and learn what modern strategies and solutions will make the biggest impact.

What is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is a broad term used to describe how urgent care staff and providers help patients participate in their healthcare — including choosing a clinic, making an appointment, understanding their condition/treatment, and billing.

While methods employed help patients feel more in control of their own healthcare, they also foster a meaningful relationship between the urgent care brand and the patient. This builds trust and helps patients feel cared about. Patient engagement technology also benefits the clinic, especially when it integrates with the EMR/PM or operating system.

Because PE helps patients make informed decisions about their wellbeing, the end goal of these strategies impact long-term health. In this way, PE also lends to

  • Improving patient outcomes
  • Increasing patient satisfaction/retention
  • Reduce costs for patients’ health, providers, and the healthcare system as a whole
Urgent Care Patient Engagement - Mobile Phone

What are the Benefits of  Patient Engagement in the Clinic?

In a convenience-focused society, it’s easy to see why patient engagement tools make life easier for patients themselves. In fact, these rewards are the ones they will notice most – over their future health.

But modern patient engagement technology does a lot to help the clinics, too. And these benefits all impact the bottom line. Here are some PE solutions features that can make a difference for the clinic itself.

Optimize throughput

With a modern solution that integrates with your EMR/PM, you gain capabilities in online scheduling, online registration, smart queues, text reminders, and more. This reduces a lot of time your staff spends on the front end, especially with registration. Plus, staff can see the queue in real time so they can plan better, like knowing how to stagger their breaks. The faster and more efficiently you can get people through the door, the more patients you can see.

Retain patients

COVID-19 brought a record number of new patients to urgent cares, and patient volumes remain high. But COVID testing and vaccination won’t keep you afloat forever. Some patients were introduced to your clinic for the first time — strong patient engagement can be the key to becoming their go-to clinic for their other episodic needs. Learn more about retaining patients here.

Reduce LWBS

Our guest from the UCA shared survey data in a webinar that showed the top reason patients LWBS is wait time. But the actual wait and the perceived wait play a crucial role here. Patient engagement can not only help with faster throughput, but also make the experience of waiting more tolerable. Read how in this blog >>

Refine processes

The data you receive from most PE technology will help you set meaningful KPIs, analyze trends, and measure performance. These things will help you make informed decisions to cut time and costs — like with staffing.

Some examples of KPIs you can use include:

  • Average wait
  • Percentage of patients seen within 30 minutes of arrival
  • Satisfaction with today’s visit
  • Likelihood to return and to recommend
  • Number and quantity of online compliments and complaints

Reputation management

Your patients have a lot of control over how you’re viewed as a business, but so do you. A PE tool with robust reputation management helps you take control of reviews, compare to competitors, and monitor patients’ feedback on specific providers.

  • Survey feedback is scanned to generate team scorecards and engagement metrics that show providers a snapshot of their NPS relative to other providers in the organization, as well as verbatim comments related to their visits.
  • AI-powered ticketing system scans feedback and automatically opens tickets and assigns to specific clinic managers for follow-up (specifically for complaints.)
  • Dashboards let you see and manage Google reviews from inside your system – so you can sort Google reviews by your chosen metric, and also reply or leave comments as needed, all in one place.
  • Dashboards also let you compare your clinic to up to three competitor star ratings in one place.
  • The text surveys can ask questions specific to the patient’s provider, so managers can gauge the overall experience vs that with the individual provider.
Urgent Care Patient Engagement on Mobile Phone

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How to Increase Patient Engagement

Tracking data shows you how you’re performing, but you need to take action if you want to make an impact on those numbers. Here are some strategies that will help you increase patient engagement.

Offer convenience. Patients have come to expect a certain level of accessibility with their chosen services. And healthcare is no different to them than shopping online or making a restaurant reservation. Make it easy for them to find you with a great online presence, and then let them reserve a place in line and register from their computer or mobile device. Some patients will still call or walk in, but you should give them choices.

Ensure providers can properly engage during the visit. This seems like a no-brainer, but think about how overworked your teams are, especially if you’re understaffed. Making their jobs easier will give them more time to create a meaningful experience for patients. Do this by using EMR/PM tools and other technology that eliminate gaps in efficiency.

Stay connected after the visit. Post-visit digital communication can help you maintain a relationship with your patients. This can include follow-up information about the reason for their visit, like resources about staying healthy. It can also be email campaigns about services you offer or news in healthcare. Most importantly, send them a survey to get their feedback about how the visit went for them. And while it’s common to email these surveys, note that one-question text surveys have a 15-40 percent better response rate than emails.

Encourage online reviews. When you send follow-up communication, provide a link to your Google listing and ask patients to give you a review. Know that it’s okay (and even expected) to get some bad reviews. Not only is that more authentic in Google’s eyes, but it gives you a chance to correct things you may have missed. That said, if you want to be really smart about it, use technology that automatically asks for a review when survey responses are positive. When a patient responds negatively in a survey, this same patient engagement platform can direct them somewhere else, like an inbox, so they can still share their experience in a not-so-public way.

Use reviews and responses to improve.  As you give patients voices through surveys and reviews, don’t forget to actually listen to what they have to say. Additionally, reply to negative reviews and report any improvements you make based on what they said.

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Patient Engagement Software Solutions and Technology

Patient engagement technology and software refers to patient-facing tools that make scheduling, communication, and healthcare management remotely accessible. It provides convenience for patients as well as a platform to provide feedback and feel heard.

These solutions offer features that are mutually beneficial for patients and clinics. Typically, they automate all the online conveniences mentioned above, like online registration, reserving a place in line, and more. This technology will also help patient engagement make a greater impact on your bottom line.

How to Improve the Patient Experience with Technology

These are some of the more advanced features that technology has to offer on-demand healthcare.

Online scheduling

Patient engagement (PE) technology has come a long way, providing measurable benefits for patients and staff alike. Allowing patients to reserve and view their spot in line does several things:

  • Manages expectations for patients — the wait is more tolerable when they know how long it will be
  • Gives patients a sense of control over their care
  • Allows patients to choose a clinic with a shorter wait, getting them seen earlier and helping to load-balance your facilities
  • Gives staff an accurate sense of volume so they can optimally schedule breaks and know when to ask someone to come in early or stay home

Online registration

You can also let patients fill out their registration information and upload necessary documents like ID and insurance cards. This will drastically reduce check-in time at the clinic, and improve accuracy.

Smart queuing

Similar to making a reservation, getting in a virtual line tremendously helps with wait psychology and wait time. Patients can see the wait in real time and decide whether to choose another clinic, wait at home, or wait in their car. They can even join a line the night before to secure a spot that works well for them the next day. Knowing exactly how long the wait is — and planning when to show up based on that — can give patients a perception of zero wait. This technology gives patients a better experience and gives your staff better visibility into patient volume.

Integrated EMR made for urgent care

While the above comes from PE technology, your EMR should also be saving you steps. But it is most efficient when it is built specifically for urgent care and integrates with your PE and other technology. An EMR that supports the nuances of urgent care will truly help you save time charting, speed up your workflow, improve accuracy, and ultimately — drive revenue.

An Example of the Patient Journey through PE

All of these strategies and benefits may seem great in theory, but what does it look like in real time? Here is a step-by-step example of how the patient journey looks with Experity’s PE tool.

  1. Patient makes online reservation for the time they want to be seen through the urgent care’s website. Preregistration captures time-saving information, reducing steps once patients arrive at the clinic. The reservation shifts patients away from a “wait time” mentality, letting them wait comfortably at home instead of the parking lot or waiting room.
  2. Patient will receive a text confirmation of their reservation time. They will also receive a text if the clinic is running behind/delayed, and a reminder text when it’s time to come in.
  3. Once in clinic, the patient can check in with the front desk or from a check-in kiosk and wait to be seen. A wait room monitor in the lobby displays the patients’ first names in the queue, and time to be called back.
  4. Staff calls back patient, completes normal visit process, and discharges patient. If the survey product is enabled, the patient will receive a survey text after discharge.
  5. Clinic can track survey results and respond to online reviews through the reputation management system.

Get the Technology, Integrate with Your EMR

There’s really only one integrable PE tool that is built specifically for urgent care. Experity’s patient engagement solution helps you reduce wait times and front desk effort while boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty. Our automated functionality can help you:

  • See 2.5x more patients with online reservation scheduling and registration
  • Reduce wait times by 80% with smart queuing
  • Earn 2-3x more reviews online with surveys

Experity also delivers insights to measure engagement so you can truly achieve continuous improvement. And in a world that keeps changing, our solutions change right along with it — so you can always keep up with new demand.

See for yourself how easy it is to boost patient satisfaction and clinic efficiency with Experity.

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Patient Engagement - Nurse caring for young patient

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