Value-based care is driving investments in patient engagement strategies and technologies, but patients are not experiencing the full potential of technology capabilities.

Patient engagement is a primary focus for health plans and providers, but the stakeholders have different agendas when it comes to engagement priorities and efficacy. In a recent study, 72% of patients reported their experience with providers and health hasn’t improved – or has even exacerbated – in the past 24 months. However, according to the same study, 80% of payers and 72% of providers puts patient engagement as a top priority, allotting as much as one-third of their health IT investment dollars aimed to improve the patient experience. The importance of having better alignment across the clinical continuum has never been clearer.

Based on The Engagement Gap: Healthcare Consumer Engagement in 2017, providers and payers show a growing commitment to invest in patient-centric strategies. The top reasons come to no surprise: Number 1 driver is value-based care, followed by competitive pressures and consumer demand for a more “retail-like” experience. Interestingly, the study also found that providers and payers are mostly aligned on strategic priorities – increasing patient/member accessibility, and improving websites and call centers.  In addition, their objectives are similar – to improve patient/member satisfaction and increase market share.  Both providers and payers report seeing positive results from their efforts with enhanced websites, patient/member portals, and email communication.

Despite of all the efforts, patient perceptions differed in the survey, with nearly three quarters of respondents indicating that their experience hasn’t improved – or has even exacerbated – in the past 24 months. Less than 21% reported an improved experience on any given measure.

Delving to specific provider engagement measures, only 22% of patients indicated they found it easier to schedule an appointment when needed and only 18% said that they were able to easily get information from their provider’s portal.

Why such a disconnect?

Patients want better tools to engage with their healthcare providers. Payer and providers have opportunities to engage patients through innovative services that promote tailored experiences and increase satisfaction and retention.

Studies such as this offer guides on where the strategy should start. Among provider technologies, patients rated care alerts as the most important engagement technology. E-mail was the preferred method for engaging with providers by two-thirds of patients, followed by text messaging.

While there has been success in the provider and payer’s perspective with some of their investments, patient response shows that this is just scratching the surface for engagement improvement. There remains to be a big satisfaction gap to be closed; which can improve if providers and payers tailor the healthcare experience to patient preferences, promote adoption of services and technologies, and constantly solicit feedback.