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

Do Gen Xers and Millennials hold the key to success for the Affordable Care Act?

Do Gen Xers and Millennials hold the key to success for the Affordable Care Act? If they do, the healthcare community needs to change its approach to patient engagement.

InCrowd has been participating in Pathways to Patient Engagement, a webinar series organized by KC Health. Over the last couple of months we have been asking our Crowd of patients and healthcare professionals to share their feedback on the current state of patient engagement. A few of the major highlights include…

  • A notable gap between physician and health consumer reported patient engagement activities currently in use
  • As an industry, we are a long way off from ‘true’ patient engagement
  • Barriers between the health consumer, their data and access to their health care team need to be removed
  • Social, mobile and online access are a ‘must’ if the healthcare community expects to engage younger health consumers

The news media and online healthcare discussions have positioned the younger health consumer as a critical piece to the overall success of the Affordable Care Act. Indicating that the younger health consumer must sign up and be part of the program to help manage the overall costs. While our survey did not specifically ask about the ACA, we did get feedback from those under the age of 50 on patient engagement and their involvement in the current healthcare system.

You can view the health consumer feedback from Gen Xers and Millennials here: Patient Engagement: Health Consumer Insights from Gen Xers and Millennials.

Is it time to take patient engagement beyond a few web-based tools that are mandated by Meaningful Use legislation? If the healthcare community truly wants to include Gen Xers and Millennials, not to mention the digital native demographic that will soon include everyone, things will have to change. Mobile and social can’t simply be buzzwords, scheduling appointments online won’t be considered patient engagement and online healthcare interaction will be the norm.

To get more detail, watch the most recent webinar Pathways to Patient Engagement: Health Consumer Insights highlighting feedback from 330 US health consumers – all under the age of 50. You can also watch the initial webinar Pathways to Patient Engagement: Insights from the Physician Community outlining feedback from 300 US based primary care physicians.

What are your thoughts on including younger health consumers in the healthcare process? Are we on the right path? Do we need to change course and adopt a new way of providing care and interacting with health consumers?

Patient Engagement, It Takes a Village

The term patient engagement gets a lot of press these days. In fact I just did a quick search and in less than 60 seconds Google returned 47,200,000 results. That’s a lot of buzz but does it reflect the real state of the union? What is actually happening in the area of patient engagement?

As partner in the webinar series Pathways to Patient Engagement we’ve been querying our Crowd of healthcare professionals to better understand the current state of patient engagement. For the initial webinar Pathways to Patient Engagement: Insights from the Physician Community we asked 300 US based primary care physicians about their patient engagement activities, the results were surprising to say the least.

  • 40% of the surveyed PCPs participate in NO patient engagement activities
  • 17% indicated they were not familiar with the term
  • 13% feel the results of patient engagement are not worth the effort

We started with PCPs because they’re the gateway to healthcare for many people. The PCP is typically the first physician seen when a person gets sick or needs a test and they become the gatekeeper to other specialties. It stands to reason that this would be an important starting point for patient engagement activities.

You can view the complete results here:

So where do we go from here? Do we wait for electronic health records and the meaningful use initiative to slowly push physicians toward patient engagement activities? Is it realistic to place sole responsibly on the shoulders of the physician community?

Patient engagement is a broad term with a less than clear definition, encompassing many aspects of care. To truly meet the needs of the healthcare consumer all stakeholders involved in the care process will need to work together. It’s going to take a village to make patient engagement a meaningful exchange that benefits not just the healthcare consumer but also the healthcare community.

The Pathways to Patient Engagement webinar series is designed to foster collaboration and discussion between all involved in the healthcare process. The goal is to bring the village together, begin to identify the gaps and opportunities and find solutions.

The next webinar in the series, Pathways to Patient Engagement: Health Consumer Insights is scheduled for Tuesday December 10th at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST. Please join us as we reach out to Gen X and Millennial health consumers to get their feedback on patient engagement. We’ll compare their data to the PCP data, get their definition of patient engagement and learn what activities and tools they feel would be most helpful. You can register here for the upcoming webinar.

What do you think of the PCP findings on patient engagement? Were they surprising? How closely do you think the health consumer insights will align with the PCPs?

Drop us a line, let us know what you think about patient engagement.

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk.