Going Back to the Future with Community Engagement

In NorthBay Healthcare’s early days, the sole focus of our only hospital in Fairfield, Calif., was to provide care for everyone in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. That remains a key component of our mission today, but our quest has greatly expanded to encompass a vast array of advanced medicine.

During the last decade we’ve gone from simply treating illnesses to focusing on wellness. Providing comprehensive primary care, focusing on preventive care, managing chronic disease and using technology to deliver compassionate care in every service line gets us closer to the ultimate goal of keeping patients out of the hospital.

We have avoided merger and acquisition to remain independent and locally focused because we never lost sight of our roots: the need to stay connected to the community we serve.

Whether we are administrators, physicians, nurses, lab scientists or housekeepers, we chose a healthcare career because we wanted to contribute to a healthy community. It’s why most of us went into healthcare.

Ingredients for good health

As healthcare providers, we believe delivering excellent medical care is the main ingredient in producing healthy outcomes. Of course, that is only one ingredient. Another is the role of individual behavior. If we want to improve the health of our communities, we must not only provide great care, we must also engage patients to take an active role in their health.

One way to promote better health and empower the community we serve is through digital patient engagement. Increasingly, patients expect providers to offer a means to communicate regularly and conveniently with their care team. Hospitals that meet these patient preferences with an automated engagement platform demonstrate a commitment to their community that separates them from the competition.

Community engagement fosters loyalty

Today, patients can easily go online and compare the scores and ratings of hospitals. When patients have a bad experience and choose to go elsewhere for care, that revenue and anyone influenced by the negative online reviews, go with them. Understanding that dynamic, seeing more patients, and keeping those patients loyal are among our top concerns at NorthBay Healthcare.

Since implementing GetWell Loop in our orthopedic practice, we’ve found that the vast majority of patients who engage with their care teams via automated, daily check-ins are extremely likely to recommend their healthcare provider to others. These patients are also more likely to rate their physician online and less likely to go to other providers for care.

For administrators seeking to boost community engagement and loyalty while bringing new patients through the door, daily engagement is a powerful way to deliver an outstanding experience to the community.

Regular engagement keeps communities healthy

Besides making patients happier, engaging with patients also directly impacts the bottom line, offering a way to provide high-quality care at a lower cost.

Patients who engage with providers daily are less likely to experience health complications and readmissions. They are more likely to be discharged to home, where providers safely and carefully monitor them.

Since implementing GetWell Loop, we’ve found that frontline staff now handle many inquiries from patients that might previously have gone to physicians. Most of these inquiries come in through the platform, which has reduced the volume of calls to the offices. This means physicians can now spend more time delivering care.

Community engagement is a two-way street

The demand for patient engagement is growing. Patients appreciate the ability to have a daily dialogue with providers and get the information they want when they want it.

When organizations don’t offer a means for patients to easily communicate with providers, patients are increasingly voting with their feet and finding a provider that does offer an engagement platform. They’re also sharing their experiences, positive or negative, online.

Patient engagement is a powerful form of community engagement. When patients are highly engaged, it keeps them out of the hospital, prevents complications from escalating and gives them the information they need to manage their health when they’re outside of the care setting. A digital engagement platform boosts referrals, builds patient loyalty and grows market share.

A digital patient engagement platform extends your care providers into the lives of patients, family members and the community. This close connection is what’s best for the patient and your hospital’s reputation.

It’s a win-win situation, because community engagement is truly a two-way street. 

Brooks, Andrew, MD, 9-8-11, 4x5, labcoat

Andrew Brooks, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon and medical director for the NorthBay Joint Replacement Program, in Vacaville, Ca.  He earned his medical degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, served an internship and residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and also completed a fellowship in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine at Royal Perth Hospital in Australia.