10 Patient Engagement Strategies to Improve Patient Outcomes

Carol Feigenbaum |
 12/23/22 |
10 min read

10 Patient Engagement Strategies to Improve Patient Outcomes

The industry is increasingly adopting patient engagement as a way to improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and promote a generally higher quality of life in the society. To enjoy these benefits, providers can employ a range of tried and tested strategies making use of advanced technology.

What Is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement refers to the interaction between patients and providers leading to the ability and willingness of the former to manage their own healthcare. Through patient engagement, individuals are turned from consumers to co-producers of health for their own sake, and that of their families, and their communities.

This is achieved in various ways including:

  • understanding the causes of disease and health,
  • understanding the limits of their knowledge and abilities, and
  • seeking help from appropriate sources.

Why Is Patient Engagement Important?

Patient engagement is important to both the patients and providers. Further, it has direct benefits to society in general including greater productivity, better use of resources, and better quality of life.

Through patient engagement, providers are motivated to share more with their patients so they can make better decisions. Consequently, patients are called upon to be more accountable for their own outcomes. The patient being so empowered is more likely to be satisfied with the process.

By building transparency, agency, and accountability, patient engagement forges a better relationship between patients and providers. This rapport can be important in various ways down the line, including discussing difficult subjects and making critical decisions.

Ultimately, patient engagement promotes more efficient use of resources and improves patient outcomes through shared decision-making.

Patient Engagement Strategies

As more HCPs adopt patient engagement, the right strategy determines who succeeds both in achieving the goals of the discipline and competing favorably.

Your strategy must include where you want to go and the steps you’ll take to get there. The following 10 strategies can help you formulate a master strategy tailored to your own unique situation.

1. Identify patients online

Many HCPs are still stuck in their traditional way of thinking where a patient is only identified after checking in and forgotten right after receiving the prescription. Patient engagement is more demanding. But the benefits are worth it.

The first patient engagement strategy is identifying them. If you’re the more traditional HCP, your perspective of the patient must completely change first.

The modern patient journey is much longer than in the past. Gone are the days when one went to the nearest provider just because it was a shorter commute. Today, even before they choose a provider, patients want to learn more about their illness.

And they are learning it from their peers, health content publishers, and HCPs like you. With advances in technology, the patient journey will start even earlier. For instance, wearables are advanced enough to report illness before the patient experiences any symptoms. See our health care trend predictions for 2023.

All this is part of the many sources of patient data that can help you identify patients at the earliest stage and with the most accuracy. With modern patient research tools, you can analyze this data to not only identify the patients but also gain valuable insight into their circumstances and what you can offer to improve their outcomes.

Filtering conversations can help reveal patient voice

Identifying your target is the first step.

2. Go through proper channels

The type of data you get may vary depending on where you find it. For instance, patients may reveal different levels of information to their providers and their peers. Will you guess who gets more?

Partly due to personal insecurities, lack of transparency and trust, and day-to-day contact, patients share more of their experiences with their peers than with providers or even family members.

Thanks to the internet, patients can find each other and interact – mainly for emotional support – so that there is even less incentive to share with the providers. This makes it harder to offer the much-needed professional input for improved outcomes.

The solution for providers is to listen in on these conversations without spooking the patients – remember, they didn’t want to share with you in the first place. Other than knowing what they ae talking about, HCPs get insights that allow them to reduce the barriers.

Given that most of these conversations are happening on public platforms, there is no risk of infringing on patient rights. The catch for many providers is going to the right sources as patients have different preferences and platforms may support limited content formats.

There is a wide variety of social listening tools – to help you listen in on patient conversations – ranging from those that are platform specific to the more advanced which allow you to scan the entire internet while telling you where each byte comes from.


NetBase Quid® takes providers everywhere patients are engaging on the internet.

3. Segment patient groups

Patient needs vary depending on many different factors making it necessary for HCPs to identify these groups in order to implement patient engagement plans. This is known as patient segmentation.

Patient segmentation is necessary because a large part of engagement is providing education and support to many people at once, not just one person. It can also make it easy to single out individuals when needed.

With a segmented patient population, you can offer targeted solutions that are more relevant hence more useful to the individual patients in each group.

As seen, there are many potential sources of patient data that can help you identify the patient characteristics you need to segment them. However, with so many fault lines, which is the best criteria for segmenting your population?

Patients can be segmented by demographics and psychographics. Demographical segmentation is based on factors such as age, sex, location, and ethnicity. Some situations may also require segmentation by level of education, medical history, insurance, etc.

Psychographic segments use factors such as attitude, interests, values, motivations, and beliefs. Just like the demographics, these factors can help get a better understanding of different patients and group them for effective engagement.

Your patient research platform should allow you to filter the data by different keywords and themes to attain the proper level of segmentation based on your goals.


NetBase Quid® allows you to understand patient conversations so you can offer help.

4. Learn patient language

Clear communication is an important aspect of effective patient engagement. From one-on-one conversations to public broadcasts to self-service and bot-led portals, interactions should be in the language most convenient to the patient.

While medical terminology may be more accurate, it can be incomprehensible to patients. Research shows that not only do patients fail to understand but sometimes they might not even recognize what they don’t understand.

Segmenting your audience can be a useful precursor for learning the language. It helps you mimic their language and also allows you to predict what they will understand e.g. if you know their vernacular, level of education, or career.

Through natural language processing (NLP) technology, advanced research tools can analyze patient conversations to help you understand how patients communicate.

Learn patient language and use it to reach them

5. Identify health literacy gaps

Health literacy is of paramount importance to the success of any patient engagement strategy. Patients can participate in their own care process and make unique decisions if they are more educated.

A low level of literacy, both at the individual and societal level, contributes to more hospitalizations, negligence, and mortalities. By identifying literacy gaps in patient conversations, providers can offer help and in turn enhance their patient engagement strategy.

These gaps can be seen in direct references to “I don’t understand this or that subject”, etc. Thus, by simply looking at patient conversations on social media, in forums, and other platforms, HCPs can know which topics are alien to their patients and apply appropriate measures.

Health literacy gaps can also be identified by analyzing the characteristics of the patients. For instance, less informed patients are less likely to use vaccinations programs or conduct regular screenings. They may also skip or abandon their regimen and may report frequent hospitalizations.

Providers can also collect direct feedback from patients through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. An example would be to create a questionnaire with different sets of subjects and asking respondents to indicate their level of knowledge about them.

AI-backed tools can help you collect this data at scale and analyze it for insights on what you can share with patients which in turn improves their decision-making capacity.

6. Provide access to patients

While it’s fun to analyze patient conversations through social listening (ask any NetBase Quid customer), letting them in is even better. Providers that make themselves accessible to patients are more likely to encourage them to take charge of their treatment.

On the other hand, less accessible providers miss the chance to get personal accounts of patient experiences, demonstrate transparency, and improve patient satisfaction.

Today, there are many ways to provide access to patients. During the pandemic, providers and their patients adopted virtual care solutions such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) and Care Management. These solutions are now being used to enhance patient engagement by eliminating the challenges of in-person visits.

Social media remains one of, if not, the best way to provide access to patients. Providers should set up systems to allow patients to contact them on various social media platforms. This involves being not only present but also active.

As telehealth options increase, the avenues for providers and patients to interact are multiplying. Adopting these advances can improve the ability and willingness of patients to take charge of their own health.

data sources again

The use of technology by HCPs can improve patient engagement.

7. Analyze patient needs, values, and expectations

To formulate a sound patient engagement strategy, providers must be aware of what patients need, value, and expect from the care process. Leading providers turn to techniques such as social listening, social media monitoring, and sentiment analysis.

Patient needs range from health literacy to emotional support. However, they are neither simple nor universal. They may be directly stated in patient conversations or they may be hidden behind emotions expressed in words. Sentiment analysis can be a powerful strategy to apply.

Patient values may be personal but often they reflect the zeitgeist. They can be understood by collecting large amounts of past data on patient conversations and analyzing it to reveal trends and patterns.

Again, patient expectations are largely driven by the spirit of the time. Trend analysis can also be applied here to understand the expected patient experience and design systems that can sustain that. At the personal level, providers can help improve/manage patient expectations through direct conversation or surveys.

All this data whether collected publicly or privately, can be run through a patient research platform to reveal insights that may not be apparent from merely looking at what patients say. Having understood deeply the patient needs, values, and expectations, you can design a program that enhances your patients’ ability and willingness to participate in their own care.

Words can reveal patient needs, values, and expectations.

8. Monitor the social determinants of health (SDOH)

A larger part of the patient’s treatment involves their natural environment rather than the regimen. This means that where people live, their place of work, and even economic stability have a direct and significant role in patient outcomes.

These factors, knowns as social determinants of health (SDOH), should be monitored in order to improve patient engagement. Providers may get insights that may explain how involved patients are in their care processes.

Through consumer research technology, providers have an opportunity to monitor the SDOH and understand their patients better.

For instance, conversations about inflation may help understand their attitudes towards certain exercises such as screening. A patient previously presumed to be ignorant of the importance of screening or insurance may later be understood as someone cutting living expenses.

The appropriate measures to be taken change drastically with such a revelation. Instead of telling them about why they need the exercises, the provider can offer a payment plan for the patient.

By analyzing multiple conversations, providers can gain insight into other SDOH that may help formulate policies favorable to specific groups of patients (e.g. marginalized communities) or to certain times (e.g. during an economic recession).

Social determinants of health impact patient outcomes.

Social determinants of health impact patient outcomes

9. Actively gather feedback

Patients are in a good position to judge at least some of the important aspects of your patient engagement strategy. For instance, are you providing enough information to help them make decisions? Are you transparent and trustworthy enough to earn their confidence?

Therefore, providers should have a strategy for actively gathering patient feedback. The method used has a significant influence on the quality of information gathered. And there are many options.

Combining different methods will maximize on their strengths while minimizing the effects of their weaknesses to the research.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests a number of options for HCPs to combine. One is patient shadowing. This is where a staff member such as a nurse or assistant accompanies a patient and quietly observes the process to get the perspective of the patients.

Another method is walking through. An outsider (not familiar with the working of the practice) is recruited to go through some aspects of the process and give feedback. For instance, they may be taken through the scheduling phase and across the physical premises.

Certainly, HCPs that want to improve patient engagement should adopt digital health record keeping as it is a great way to capture information through direct and observed feedback.

Other great methods for actively gathering feedback from patients include surveys, suggestion boxes, and questionnaires. This data must then be analyzed and the insights applied.

10. Measure patient engagement metrics

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Therefore, your patient engagement strategy must be measured by the results it achieves. These are understood as performance metrics.

The patient activation measure (PAM) is an industry standard for gauging the effectiveness of engagement strategies. Activated patients are those that have gained the ability and are willing to manage their own healthcare.

Respondents are given a 13-question form and categorized into four levels depending on how active they are in the care process.

Another way to measure patient engagement is by looking at the performance of educational material including blog posts, social media posts, and brochures. What are people saying in the comments sections? Are patients applying the information given to improve their own experiences?

Sentiment analysis is another great technique for gauging patient engagement by analyzing the attitudes of respondents about select subjects. It uses AI-backed NLP to discover the emotional meaning of words expressed by patients in conversations.


Measuring is the way to improve patient outcomes.

NetBase Quid® helps you implement each of these strategies through its superior consumer and market research technology. From collecting to analyzing data from sources across the web, the platform is equipped to help you tackle the most troubling challenges for HCPs today.

Reach out for a demo now and we will show you how to develop a patient engagement strategy to improve patient outcomes.

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