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Patient Engagement is the Path to Optimal Outcomes

If you’re a practicing physical therapist, you probably don’t need data to tell you that engaged patients tend to achieve better outcomes than their non-engaged peers. While the engagement-outcomes connection is fairly obvious, the reasons behind it may not be. By having a better understanding of those reasons, you can apply strategies that foster better behavior in all your patients, thus allowing them to achieve better outcomes.

Here are three reasons why patient engagement drives optimal outcomes.

Engaged patients are proactive rather than reactive about their health.

The earlier you catch and address a problem, the easier it is to fix. And when it comes to resolving health issues, engaged patients are not put-it-off-until-tomorrow kind of people. Their procrastinating counterparts, on the other hand, are more likely to delay seeking care until those issues have become way more serious—which means treatment will be much more complex. Patients who were more activated about their health had health care costs that were 8 percent lower in the base year and 21 percent lower in the next year compared to patients who were reactive about their health, according to this study.

Engaged patients are invested in their treatment.

As a therapist, you feel accomplishment when patients achieve positive outcomes and disappointment when they don’t. When you’re working with an engagement patients, those emotions aren’t a one-way street because these patients are just as invested in their treatment as you are.

Of course, engagement is a two-way street; if you don’t give your patients the opportunity to participate, they are less likely to speak up. “Patient engagement starts and ends with patient-centered care,” Ryan Klepps, PT, DPT, writes in this post. “Patient-centered care is, at its simplest, offering the patient equal say in the decision making process…If we as clinicians offer patients a seat at the table, and simply find out what they want, we are engaging them.”

Engaged patients are more likely to research their treatment options.

Patient engagement is about having the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage one’s health and health care.

Modern healthcare consumers are just that—consumers. With the advent of resources like online ratings and reviews, patients increasingly are taking their health care into their own hands. It’s now easier than ever for patients to chart their paths to therapy without having to go through their physicians. This in turn results in an engaged patient, seeking the best provider possible to reach optimal results.