Best Ways to Increase IBD Patient Engagement

As a medical provider or pharma company, you’re doing an amazing job of bringing the best practices to your IBD patients. But in today’s world of seemingly unlimited care options and immediate gratification mentalities, it’s tough to keep patients engaged.


Just like how you strategize and plan to improve the services that you’re delivering, there are steps to encourage your patient participation. Following these best methods can help keep your IBD patients in control and involved on their medical journey.


Be Transparent About the Plan

Just like doing a test drive on a car, patients want to get a feel for the course of their healthcare. They want to know upfront what will be involved and what they can expect. When they are kept in the dark about their treatment and how much it’s going to cost, they get easily frustrated.


Yet, inability to effectively receive and provide communication with health care providers is one of the top patient barriers to accessing IBD care. In fact, according to Crohn’s and Colitis UK, one third of people living with Crohn’s or Colitis don’t have the support of a specialist IBD nurse.


Patients want to feel heard and receive a personalized care plans. They also want to understand what to do after they’re been discharged. Many patients are left to figure it out how to manage their condition on their own.


According to NoriHealth‘s own CEO, Roeland Pater, hospital checkups are helpful for checking in with inflammation levels and biomarkers, but it doesn’t help with the day to day factors that exist when living with a chronic disease.


Scientific study reviews report that effective discharge planning is associated with these patient journey activities:

On admission: prepare detailed and accurate patient record and review information and estimate date of discharge with reference to complexity of patient circumstances.
During admission: regular multidisciplinary assessment of condition and discuss with the patient and the family ongoing and continuing needs.
At least 48 hours before discharge: initiate referrals to community health-care providers and social care agencies, social work/care assessment and necessary referrals, finalize care package, order at home medications, arrange transport.
Day of discharge: contact family or care to confirm follow-up care arrangements, check document completion, issue discharge letter, reinforce patient behavior recommendation and rehabilitation, confirm transport.
Follow-up care: initiate social care package, when relevant arrange consult with practitioner.


Promote Participation


According to Primary Care Collaborative, people who are actively engaged in their health care, are more likely to stay healthy and manage their condition. This includes following suggested care, sticking to treatment plans, eating well, staying active and receiving screenings, immunizations, and medications.


“Patients without the skills to manage their health care incur costs up to 21 percent higher than patients who are highly engaged in their care.” –  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Patient engagement starts with giving them the tools they need to understand what makes them sick, how to stay healthy, and what to do if their IBD condition gets worse. It also means encouraging them to be active in contacting their physician when needed, asking questions, knowing medications, and being proactive about seeking support.


Drive with Digitalization


Positive patient engagement results have been seen with various digital communications systems such as text, email, mobile app, or web portal. The key is to provide factual, scientifically-backed multimedia content in real-time and at the “right time”.


According to Medical Economics, one of the best ways to keep patients engaged is through text and email messaging. A systematic review that they featured, found eight out of nine studies supporting text messaging as an effective tool for behavior change.


The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) published a Kaiser Permanente study which found that patients with higher out of pocket costs were significantly more likely to rely on email as their first method of contact for a health concern. Also more than one in three patients who sent an email to providers reported reduced phone calls and office visits.


Medical Economics compiled five steps that emphasize the how as well as what to focus on, when it comes to digital ways of improving patient engagement:


-Focus on the platform and technology that best connects with the target population and create a sustained connection through the care.

-Make it easy to access so there are no barriers to set-up and use (limited sign-up, downloading, password) and no work needed by the care team.

-Automatic enrollment as part of the standard of care, then give clients the option to opt-out.

-Use real time data to evaluate the efficacy.

-Personalize content and make it authentic.



Nori for IBD Patient Engagement


NoriHealth offers chatbot coaching that’s personal, authentic, and easy to use. The goal is to provide patient support in between hospital or doctor visits. Nori promotes physician recommendations and medication protocols. With de-identified patient data, which can save on office visit time, improve condition care, and allow for better engagement in the health journey.




This article has been written by Lisa Booth, registered dietitian and nutritionist, and co-founder of Nori Health. Content is based on her professional knowledge, and our collection of 100+ scientific research study papers.