Patient Engagement in Outpatient Rehab: What It Is and Why It Matters

What is patient engagement?

Patient engagement is an essential part of high-quality healthcare. It involves encouraging patients to take an active role in managing their own care, from gathering information and making decisions to communicating with care providers and adhering to treatment plans.

There are three main categories of patient engagement: communication and access to care, patient self-efficacy, and patient activation and adherence.

Why is patient engagement important?

High patient engagement has many benefits for organizations, providers, and patients—including better patient satisfaction, improved clinical outcomes, time savings, and lower costs.

Because patients who are engaged with their care plans and providers are empowered to make proactive decisions about their health, they are more likely to have better outcomes than patients who are less engaged. In fact, a higher perception of self-efficacy after discharge from physical therapy is associated with better perceived clinical improvement, lower pain intensity, and a lower number of physical therapy sessions.1 At the same time, disengaged patients are three times as likely to have unmet medical needs and two times as likely to delay medical care.2

An engaged patient is better able to:

  • Self-manage an illness or condition
  • Engage in activities that help improve health or reduce decline
  • Help make decisions about treatment
  • Collaborate with providers and caregivers
  • Select providers and provider organizations that are a good fit for their needs
  • Navigate the healthcare system more effectively

Organizations with more engaged patients experience:

  • Increased patient activity, adherence, and involvement in care
  • Better patient satisfaction and referrals
  • Higher patient retention rates
  • Better outcomes and quality ratings
  • Improved organizational profitability and time savings

How to increase patient engagement?

Patient engagement tools can improve communication and access to care, enhance patient self-efficacy, and increase patient activation and adherence. Based on the needs of your patients and organization, you can select the category and corresponding tools to drive your goals.

Improving ease of communication and access to care

To encourage better communication between patients and clinicians, organizations might offer email, direct message, and/or in-app communications. An effective method for improving access to care is offering telehealth visits as a standalone or supplement to in-person care.

Providing patient-centered care

Caring for patients using a combination of clinical skill and empathy helps patients feel valued, understood, and empowered to complete their care plans. When providers use patient-centered approaches such as active listening and motivational interviewing, patients are more likely to want to make the changes that will lead to better outcomes.

Enhancing patient self-efficacy

Better patient self-efficacy can be achieved by educating patients on their condition and the importance of adhering to their treatment regimen. When patients are better educated on their diagnosis, they can more readily buy in to their plan of care and take a great level of control, resulting in better outcomes.

Increasing patient activation and adherence

Outpatient rehab providers can increase patient activation and adherence by providing effective, engaging, and accessible home exercise programs that they customize to each patient.

How Can MedBridge Help?

MedBridge offers effective, comprehensive patient engagement solutions across multiple settings that allow organizations to elevate the patient experience with patient-friendly education, exercises, and online communication tools that motivate, empower, and support patients.

Our Home Health Patient Engagement Solution helps agencies replace or supplement unnecessary in-person visits and provide the right level of care by using digital tools to extend care between visits and help patients get better, faster.

Our Private Practice Patient Engagement Solution improves patient retention and reduces no-shows by driving patient satisfaction and a better patient experience with high quality home exercise programs, patient education, and virtual visits.

Our Hospitals and Health Systems Patient Engagement Solution allows organizations to engage patients with high quality patient education and HEP to increase their involvement in their own care and improve adherence, in turn lowering costs and elevating outcomes. Measure and track patient adherence, adding critical data points to your arsenal and improving the patient experience.

  1. Souza, C. M., Martins, J., Libardoni, T. d., & de Oliveira, A. S. (2020). Self-efficacy in patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions discharged from physical therapy service: A cross-sectional study. Musculoskeletal Care, 18(3), 365–371.
  2. Hibbard, J. H. & Greene, J. (2013). What the evidence shows about patient activation: Better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs. Health Affairs, 32(2), 207–214.