When providing care to patients, it only makes sense to include the patient as much as possible in composing their treatment plan and assessing their payment options. Yet, patient engagement is truly so much more. It is reaching human beings and establishing a relationship outside the confines of clinical walls. It is caring for men and women and acknowledging not just the cost of medicine, but the cost of handicap accessibility, the cost of transportation, and the cost of anything and everything affected by the illness in question. It is for this reason that it’s so important for healthcare providers to communicate to patients that they are not just a source of revenue. They are people.

In light of this, there a number of things that hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical professionals can and should do to increase patient engagement. By bolstering patients’ role in their own health, these health-care providers will not only see a rise in their patient portals, but will also see increased rates of satisfaction. Listed below are a few integral tips to increasing patient engagement:

Back up theories with facts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a prevailing myth that only the younger generation is inclined to make use of digital patient portals. However, this is wrong. In reality, it has been suggested (according to Mayo Clinic’s Office of Access Management) that the biggest portion of the patient engagement user-base is between the ages of 50-64. The second largest is 65-79 years old. While contradictory to popular belief, these facts make sense when taking into account the fact that senior citizens are likely to be vastly more involved with the healthcare industry on a much more regular basis than the younger (generally more healthy) population.

Make relevant information more accessible.

By making relevant information more easily available, healthcare providers are bound to increase patient engagement rates. Rather than force patients to endlessly peruse a single forum that encompasses a wide variety of issues, providers could implement more effective search functions to ensure patients are able to find the info they’re looking for in a more timely manner.

Hire subject matter experts.

It has been said that hiring subject matter experts can make an enormous difference in increasing overall patient engagement rates. Essentially, a provider should identify two groups of people: consultants and implementers. The consultant will ultimately deem if an idea is worth putting into practice, and the implementer, well, implements that idea. By assigning point people and specific individuals to take responsibility for particular initiatives, there is a degree of urgency. There is accountability, and with accountability comes fault. So, rather than be at fault, these chosen individuals will pursue and execute their assigned tasks to the best of their ability.

It can be difficult to increase patient engagement in the high-risk world of healthcare. With so many different challenges and a constant influx of new problems, unique conditions, and individual circumstances, it is easy to overlook an overarching, although not as pressing, universal concept like patient engagement. However, just because patient engagement is not as immediately apparent as say, sickness, it is ultimately just as significant, and needs to regarded as such.