Engagement is active participation. Its empowerment. It’s the knowledge and confidence to meet a goal or task head-on. It produces a can-do attitude and better follow-through.

Why is it important?

We know that engagement leads to improved performance – from the student, to the athlete, to the patient. Those who feel empowered with knowledge, understanding, and the tools they need, do better. Patients feel better. More importantly, they experience less fear, more consistently adhere to pre-op preparations and medication regimens, come better prepared for procedures, and experience improved outcomes.

What does an engaged patient look like?

1. They are educated and informed, so they are less fearful and frustrated.

We fear what we don’t understand. A survey by the U.S Department of Education (2003) shows only 12% of Americans demonstrate a proficiency in health literacy, while more than 75 million Americans demonstrate a basic or below basic health literacy.

What this means for facilities is that the majority of their patients do not have the basic medical knowledge or context to effectively understand diagnosis, treatment options, procedures, and instructions. Compounding this lack of health literacy is the gap between what a physician assumes her patient is understanding and what that patient is actually comprehending. In a survey of orthopedic surgeons, 75% believed that they communicated properly, but only 21% of those patients reported satisfactory communication1. With lack of understanding comes fear and frustration, both of which increase the risk of complications, delays and cancellations, as well as dissatisfaction with the facility.

Through texting, the care provider can present the information in a time frame and manner that is much more conducive to patient understanding and ease of retention. Patients are much more likely to arrive for their procedures with the ease of mind and confidence they need to experience successful outcomes.

2. They understand their pre-op instructions and come better prepared for procedures.

Along with a sometimes complicated description of a prognosis and a procedure, patients are then bombarded with important instructions for pre-op preparation. Even with their best intentions, it can be difficult for patients to process and apply all the information given to them. Through texts, information is reinforced with links to educational articles that patients can review at their leisure and share with family members. Pre-op preparation provide patients reminders that are timely and relevant with links to clear demonstration videos and detailed NPO compliance instructions. Directions and day-of reminders give patients that last-minute information they need to help their procedure day go smoothly.

3. They feel supported through post-op and are less likely to experience complications or to be readmitted

Patients are supplied with detailed paper instructions regarding recovery procedures, follow-up, and prescription at discharge, which can be a less than ideal time to understand and process that amount of information. Timely text messages can effectively supplement these instructions and remind patients about setting up appointments and filling prescriptions. Texts can also automate the post-surgery check in, saving time to allow personnel to focus on patients requiring an actual conversation.

4. They feel happy with their experience and happy with your facility

In addition to being well informed throughout the perioperative process, patients are more likely to complete patient satisfaction surveys via a mobile device than via traditional paper or voice-based interviews. The responses generated through text surveys tend to be more timely, accurate, and honest.

How can surgical facilities engage?

Many facilities are turning to technology to connect with and better engage their patients, and they’re seeing the benefits first hand. Specifically through texting, facilities are easily able to send pre-op reminders and inform patients of routine information with this extremely affordable and time-efficient tool. Platforms that customize texts by procedure and surgeon are incredibly helpful in automating communications particular to the patient. With this simple and accessible tool, facilities can provide the level of care and ease in communication today’s patients expect.

There is no question engagement is a critical component to good care and that text messaging is one of the most affordable, efficient, and simple solutions to encourage engagement.


This article was brought to you by One Medical Passport. Please feel free to forward it on to colleagues or associates or find out more about our cloud-based solution for better perioperative care at

1 Tongue J. R., Epps H. R., Forese L. L. Communication skills for patient-centered care: research-based, easily learned techniques for medical interviews that benefit orthopedic surgeons and their patients. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005;87:652–658.

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