Portrait of a smiling nurse with her senior patient in a hospital patient engagement concept

Can Patient Engagement Be Enhanced through Relationships?

While we are fully on board with the new directions being forged in order to boost patient engagement, such as leveraging the power of social media, we should not lose sight of this one important fact: all the new tools in the world cannot make up for a lack of relational warmth between patients and care providers.

In fact, there is ample evidence that maintaining good relationships does more than merely increase patient engagement. In some cases, it often leads to better health outcomes overall.

Analysis of recently published reviews underscore this point.

The review found that relationship-focused training had a small but statistically significant effect on the specific health outcomes in patients with obesity, diabetes, asthma, or osteoarthritis. Among other things, it could affect weight loss, blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid levels, and pain (Advisory).

Those are some excellent results.

Experts at UCLA’s School of Medicine likewise remind medical professionals that in order for follow-up engagement to be most effective, patients must already have an established trust. After all, why would people care what you have to say if they have walked away from a visit feeling as if their doctor or their doctor’s staff do not care about them?

No wonder 59% of all patients surveyed stated their belief that a high-quality physician can be identified on the basis of relationships and personality. While this attitude may seem a bit short-sighted (someone with an excellent bedside manner may be less helpful than a less friendly but more knowledgeable doctor), these opinions render a fairly accurate picture of why medical professionals absolutely must invest time and effort in maintaining good relationships with their patients.

In the end, remember that whatever methods you use to boost patient engagement post-visit, you should first provide a good foundation through establishing an open, caring, and mutually honest dialogue with each of your patients.