My Patient Engagement Wish List for 2014

Over the last few months I have been actively involved in the ongoing bigstock-Close-up-of-human-hand-holding-56653880discussion around patient engagement. I’ve been doing a good deal of reading on the topic and have connected with some amazing ePatients.

A company that I helped co-found, InCrowd, was a partner in the webinar series Pathways to Patient Engagement. As part of the sponsorship, I queried Crowds of patients and healthcare professionals, getting their feedback on the current state of patient engagement. The data collected was eye opening to say the least.

Pathways to Patient Engagement: Insights From the Physician Community
Do Gen Xers and Millennials hold the key to success for the Affordable Care Act?

In June I have the honor of presenting on the global state of patient engagement at the Doctors 2.0 & You conference. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share feedback from patients and healthcare providers around the globe.

All of this has me thinking about the future of patient engagement and where I, as a healthcare professional myself, would like to see patient engagement head in 2014.

My Wish List for Patient Engagement

-Healthcare systems, providers and physician practices will hire Patient Engagement Healthcare Specialists to drive patent engagement activities. Some of their efforts might include:

  • Establishing a securing texting program for patients interested in this communication channel
  • Creating a text, email or app based reminder program for healthy eating, weight loss, exercise, BP and stress management, diabetes control, adherence to treatment plans…
  • Sharing relevant and individualized medical education information via the patient’s portal
  • Educating patients on tools and programs the practice provides
  • Following-up after each office visit to see that patient’s needs were met

-The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) begin to include real engagement tools in Meaningful Use. This could include:

  • Patient/HCP life style agreements
  • Educational information around lab test results and common procedures, enabling people to truly understand the health implications of the information
  • Requiring appropriate and individualized medical education information be provided via the patient portal
  • Taking engagement beyond the portal; move on to apps, mHealth tools, educational classes, easy email communications, electronic prescription refills…

Interesting article on this topic: There’s Nothing Engaging About My First Patient Portal…It’s Actually Pretty Disengaging

-Skype or a simple but secure communications tool becomes a commonplace platform for interactions between patients and healthcare staff. This could be used for:

  • Simple Q&A
  • Discussions around lab and test results
  • Easy and fast prescription refills
  • Maintaining engagement between office visits
  • Progress check-ins
  • One-on-one review of procedures patients have been taught (dressing changes, self injections), review of educational information that was provided…

-Health apps become mainstream and are used as a collaboration tool between the patient and their healthcare team.

  • Healthcare professionals prescribe them, suggest them during office calls, include them in educational materials, offer downloads via patient portals
  • Patients and healthcare professionals interact through the apps
  • Health information is tracked, progress is monitored, success and milestones are recognized via the app

I will admit some of the things on my list might not be considered true patient engagement activities but I do believe they are a step in the right direction. These activities provide an opportunity to create and cultivate a connection between patients and healthcare providers. A connection that can drive better health outcomes and isn’t that what we all want.

What’s on your patient engagement wish list?

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk

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