patient engagement

doctor-and-patientpatient engagement as defined by healthcareITnews.com:

“Patient engagement refers to ongoing and constructive dialogue between patient and practitioner. Within the scope of healthcare IT, patient engagement is driven by technology ranging from patient portals, which enable patients to view test results and records online and communicate with doctors, to electronic data capturing platforms that result in more accurate and streamlined diagnostic information. A high emphasis has been placed on patient engagement in Stage 2 meaningful use.”.

the healthcare system in the US is wonderful in focusing on one thing that has gone wrong and fixing it. it is not so effective in dealing with comorbidities and not so much when it comes to taking daily actions to maintain a state of harmony. mobile devices seem like the right channel to revolutionize the current state. can healthcare be as engaging as our digital social lives? can the same social circle serve as a catalyst to push us in the right direction when it comes to making healthier choices?

why does it seem like we are not getting patient portals and PHR right? to start off, the sicker the patient the less likely they are to use the portal. to put this in perspective, 78% of physicians use EHR while 17% of patients use portals (this data dates back to 2013 by Research Ancker). it is clear that patients do not see the value of the portals yet nor gaining access to their PHR. what is the right model to bond the patient and provider together?

considering that PHR is mostly provider facing, i.e. they are laid out and detailed in a clinical way which makes more sense for the physician than the patient. take clinical notes for example which include terms which do not make much sense to the patient.

but hold on for a second. aren’t the patient already so very much engaged? they suffer the pain, go through the medical procedure, pay the bill… patient are indeed engaged as they fill out the same form multiple times as they visit different departments within the same hospital. as they are expected to accurately name the medications they are taking and the dosage. isn’t it the system that, inadvertently, discourages engagement?
today providers are almost exclusively responsible for deciding a patient’s treatment, next site of care, medications, etc. seeking patient engagement, those key decisions should include the patients and their families, where they can voice their opinion, participate and share responsibility.

consider nutrition and financial wellness as important gaps. patient should know who is responsible for delivering their care. critical data elements can be tied to services rendered to improve outcome in a clear and concise way. regardless of a patient’s spoken language, in order to engage them they should be able to specify clearly and effectively specify what is going on, why they need help and know that someone got their message and is “working on it”. all that within as little clicks as possible.

patient engagement may be the holy grail when it comes to improving outcome and reducing costs. having the patient and their family and friends participate in the process in a meaningful way and be proactive in a timely manner can assist advancing the healthcare system in our country forward.