How To Encourage Patients To Get Involved With Their Health

Tim Watt  |  August 28, 2015

Patients are slowly becoming more involved in their own well-being as technology becomes more advanced and relevant health information is readily available online. Tools like mobile applications and patient portals - which give patients access to their medical records online - have made it possible for patients to monitor their health conditions and stay up to date with their bodies' physical state. As this leads to a healthier population, medical providers should encourage this proactive behavior.

Visits to the doctor's office once consisted of physicians performing medical examinations on patients and providing results, which would serve as information that individuals hadn't been updated on since their last appointment. Robin Farmanfarmaian, executive director at the Organ Preservation Alliance and the vice president at INVICTA Medical, pointed out that nowadays, appointments are more like a collaborative effort, where patients bring their providers up to date with their current state of well-being along with any changes to their health or specific problems they're experiencing, according to LinkedIn. She explained that this major change has started to improve patient health across the country. 

To ensure that this progress continues, providers should do their part in encouraging their patients to get proactive when it comes to tracking and improving their health. Here are a few ways they can help:

Ask more questions
A large part of getting adults engaged in their health is asking questions instead of strictly answering the ones they ask, explained Farmanfarmaian. She noted that the patient is the one who knows his or her body, so getting feedback is crucial to enhancing treatment methods and care quality overall. If patients know that their physicians are going to be asking them detailed questions about things like how much they exercise and the types of food they eat, they're more likely to stay physically active and stick to a nutritious diet. 

Show a real interest
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation of New Jersey, which works with health providers to ensure patients are receiving high-quality care, asked almost 65 patients "How could a healthcare professional encourage you to speak up about your needs?" One highlight from the respondents was the fact that showing sincere interest in their well-being will help encourage patients to get involved in their health.

Listening to patient responses without interrupting will also persuade them to share their health information, according to the survey results. Otherwise, adults may feel that their physicians don't value their opinions or take their feedback into account when making diagnoses. If individuals aren't being heard, this may make it challenging to stay motivated when it comes to keeping track of their health. 

Recommend mobile apps
Health-related smartphone apps have come a long way in recent years. There are some available that can track crucial health factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol. Others simply promote exercise with daily step trackers and calorie counters. Farmanfarmaian suggested that health providers recommend FitnessFast for patients in need of a good workout tracker and Cardiio to keep a close eye on heart rates. Older adults may also be taking a number of prescriptions, so health professionals can advise that they use apps like MyMedications to assist them with remembering how much of their medications to take. 

Offer a patient portal
According to The Wall Street Journal, the majority of providers across the health care industry are now offering their patients access to online medical records, largely because the federal government has started providing incentives for doing so. This has increased patient engagement, as adults can view and print their personal records from home. Having their medical information on hand helps them familiarize themselves with their current medical state and identify certain factors that they may need to improve upon without having to go to the doctor.