The healthcare industry is facing a dilemma: how to actively and effectively engage patients. A recent blog post –Part 1. The Unengaged Patient and The Patient Engagement Concept – details the struggles facilities, physicians, and public-health officials face in terms of patient engagement. With the roll-out of a relatively new concept called patient engagement, goals and initiatives have been put in place to engage patients of any age.
However, goals need tactics, specific actions, to achieve this overall patient engagement concept. With that being said, here are 3 ways providers, facilities, and officials can engage the unengaged patient:
The technology is out there, and the patients are ready for it, but what about the providers? As we mentioned before, even the early stages of embracing early EHR implementation has led to provider frustration and hesitation. But there are professionals out there that think that the gap between patient need and product limitations can be filled adequately by the provider taking both into consideration upon clinical application. One such professional is Steven Beck, CMIO of Catholic Health Partners’ (CHP).
Beck’s organization, which is the largest health system in OH, has been recognized for successfully integrating a standardized EHR system developed by Epic throughout all of its hospitals and employed physician practices. The initiative was known as Care PATH (patient-centered access to team-based healthcare).
“So, what are you doing to deal with your disease?” I ask her. We meet on the wards while I am a first-year medical student practicing my history taking. She’s recovering from her sixth surgery.
“I use Facebook a bit,” she says. My eyes look up from where I’ve nervously scribbled the various components of the medical history I’m trying desperately to remember: chief complaint, history of presenting illness, past medical history, family history. Social media history isn’t on that list.
“Can you explain what you mean by that?” I ask, politely, unsure of what this has to do with her pathology.
Anna tells me about her life: the multiple surgeries, the debilitating pain, the emotional challenges during adolescence trying to fit in at school. She discusses the back braces, the medications, and trying to live a normal life without letting her condition define her.
She then proceeds to tell me about a vital part of her medical history that no lecture or preceptor has yet prepared me for.
“I’m part of a Facebook group for people with scoliosis,” Anna says. She tells me that, while modern medicine has done everything it could to correct her curvature and manage her condition, she, like many people with chronic illnesses, continues to suffer, often in silence.
“All changed, changed utterly.” W B Yeats’s famous line was triggered by the Irish rebellion in 1916. Close to 100 years on, it could describe how digital technologies and social media are changing the world; not least the world of healthcare. At the Doctors 2.0 & Youconference—launched and led by Denise Silber, a Paris based digital health consultant—delegates fizzed with enthusiasm. Their tweets contended with the dawn chorus, as word was instantly spread about “le dernier mot” on health apps, “serious” games for health, “wearables” (think Google Glasses), and the use of social media in health (#doctors20). And on how big data around the global, online discourse on health is being tracked and analysed.
In contrast to many health fora, patient representation was strong, and their contributions equally so. Those who have found the willpower and energy to use their experience of illness to innovate, and help others, tend to be effective advocates. A well known example is e-patient Dave (deBronkart), author of Let Patients Help, which is a must read for doctors and patients alike. He defines e-patients as “empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled.”
If you read some of the stories online you would thing that eventually patients won’t need health care professionals, they will be to do everything online with the help of the Internet and mobile apps. Frankly that is a load of garbage and biopharma should not reach for the hyped golden carrot.
In this day and age of limited time with doctors coupled with ample opportunity to google anything, the temptation for people to reach their own conclusions about their illness is strong. Spend enough time searching the internet for any given symptom and you’ll eventually end up with grave prognosis. Easy access to information does not negate the need for a professional opinion.
It’s a demanding healthcare consumer and patient out there. Active in social media, they are used to being engaged across a wide spectrum of industries on their terms. So why should that be so different in healthcare?
Smart phones, tablets and applications are ruling the day and virtually no age segment is immune from that transformation of how they are engaged by organizations. How a hospital and health system as well as physicians engage patents and the growing healthcare consumer in the form of the newly insured, dictates the effective and efficient use of social media as part and parcel of the engagement strategy.
In December 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended Meaningful Use Stage 2 and Stage 3 deadlines after healthcare providers and electronic health record (EHR) developers lobbied for more time to improve interoperability, patient engagement, and other requirements. In particular, patient engagement has been at the forefront of the meaningful use movement recently. This is likely due to the fact that as the industry adopts a system more heavily focused on value, giving patients access to their health information has become a critical way to make healthcare more patient-centered, and in turn, value-based. However, with requirements such as mandating that five percent of patients communicate with healthcare providers through secure electronic messages, many hospitals and physician practices are becoming increasingly nervous about meeting patient engagement standards. To help boost patient engagement and calm some meaningful use concerns, here are three ideas for healthcare providers to consider implementing if they are concerned about patient engagement.
We can’t turn on the television or listen to the radio without hearing advertisements or commentary on health care whether it be insurance or chronic conditions. Our country is suffering from sky-rocketing costs and poor overall individual health management, in spite of unprecedented access to information and new technology applications being developed daily to support personal and professional healthcare management. So what will be the catalyst to drive us as individuals to take a more proactive approach to managing our own health? In my humble opinion, it won’t be the government, employers, or technology applications like Apple’s Healthbook. The spread of the Internet and the power of social media to inform, connect, support and promote the benefits will be the catalyst to the widespread adoption of proactively managing our own health.
With overflowing schedules, increased payer and patient demands and flat reimbursement levels, ensuring patient engagement with your practice may be low on the priority list. The good news is improving patient engagement does not need to be another expensive or time-consuming initiative.
An inviting reception area and minor workflow adjustments help create an immediate positive patient experience. Information technology tools, however, make the most long-lasting impact. For example, a flexible, unobtrusive electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) system helps you concentrate on patients instead of the software, while an easy-to-use patient portal keeps patients connected to your practice while they’re at home.
Here are three areas to consider as you strive to deliver the type of excellent service and care that ensures patients will stay adherent to your recommendations and remain loyal to your practice.
In the new world of community (population) management, your role as a health care marketer will change dramatically. Your hospital will receive a single payment to care for all the patients in your community. Your goal will be to treat every patient at the least expensive point. And that will mean keeping patients out of the hospital rather, than driving them in.
The Advisory Board says that three things will be essential to successfully manage patient communities:
Imagine getting a call from your doctor if you let your gym membership lapse, make a habit of buying candy bars at the checkout counter, or begin shopping at plus-size clothing stores. For patients of Carolinas HealthCare System, which operates the largest group of medical centers in North and South Carolina, such a day could be sooner than they think. Carolinas HealthCare, which runs more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and surgical centers, has begun plugging consumer data on 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients so that doctors can intervene before they get sick. The company purchases the data from brokers who cull public records, store loyalty program transactions, and credit card purchases.
Before you jump all over me, I have already outlined why I think we (doctors and medical offices) are the biggest part of the wait time problem. But, patients can help. Here are 3 ways you can help avoid long wait times at the doctor’s office.
An estimated 65 percent of the population are thought to be visual learners – people who retain information better by seeing pictures and videos rather than reading text or hearing information delivered orally. In fact, the percentage of visual learners may be much higher (some studies put the figure as high as 85 percent), depending on the methodology of the study and the categories of learning styles included.
Couple that with the sobering statistics from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy showing that nearly half of American adults demonstrate low levels of literacy, and it’s clear that there is no downside to doctors incorporating high-quality visual elements into their patient education materials. Not only will you improve patients’ comprehension of their health and treatment – you may even increase compliance as well.
In another sign of the changing times, a new CDMiConnect report says that patients are using their mobile devices in waiting rooms and, to a lesser extent, exam rooms, more and more to search the Internet for information about the particular health problem that brought them to the waiting room in the first place.
3000 patients, all 18 years of age or older, were surveyed for the report, named “The Patients First Reports: In-Office Mobile Device Use.” Deb Deaver, agency president for CDMiConnect, said that these 3000 patients had over 200 different health conditions and were surveyed in order to “understand the impact of healthcare at our fingertips and uncover how it has influenced the roles we play in each other’s lives.”
Mark Matulaitis holds out his arms so the Parkinson's specialist can check his tremors. But this is no doctor's office: Matulaitis sits in his rural home as a neurologist a few hundred miles (kilometers) away examines him via the camera in his laptop.
Although some physicians and hospital leaders utilize social media platforms, many healthcare executives still express considerable skepticism. As a physician who uses various social media services to keep up on industry trends, I'm continually impressed by how innovative healthcare leaders and consumers use these tools in new and imaginative ways.
In late April 2014, Twitter announced it will allow researchers to data mine its archives of hundreds of million tweets to try to discover actionable correlations that can be of clinical utility.
In the mid-2000s, Dr. David Van Sickle had a more critical cause in mind. While working as a respiratory disease detective in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, he didn’t need to dig much to identify a major problem in the health care system. That was easy as breathing—breathing for him, anyway. “People think about asthma, and think we must have a handle on it in the U.S.,” Van Sickle said. “But the grim reality is that most patients’ asthma in this country is uncontrolled. There’s a higher rate of going to the hospital than there should be. We have been doing the same thing about asthma for years, and we have made basically no dent in hospitalizations. The majority of those people think they are doing fine, so no one treats them with a course correction. And, so, there’s inexcusable morbidity. There’s this really ridiculous gap between what we should be able to do and what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
One of the most interesting parts of the TEDMED Google Hangout on how to dispel health care myths were the exchanges that revolved around how physicians and patients could improve their interactions. Trust is essential to improving patient engagement but that’s required on both sides. The level of interest patients demonstrate in their own health and a lack of understanding of the point of view their patients bring with them.
Physicians need to work to understand their patients perspective. Myths such as needing to drink eight glasses of water a day, cold weather increases risk of sickness and vaccines as a source of autism tend to come from people perceived as authority figures from parents to celebrities. The vaccine issue dominated the conversation, which isn’t surprising considering the tremendous risk it has created after so many years of reducing incidents of measles and mumps in the U.S.
Here are five insights to boost trust and improve patient-physician relationships.
Let’s tackle health literacy once and for all and move our health care system forward. Let’s remove complex and hard-to-understand messaging in all forms of communication. Let’s use innovative technology such as digital signage in hospitals to consistently engage patients and employees at the point of care.
Tell people what they need to do and where to get help and watch them take action. When you are clear and direct you help people assimilate, absorb, and retain information. You are empowering them to them to change their thoughts and behaviors, ultimately increasing the trust between patient and provider.
Improve health literacy and optimize digital signage communications with these five strategies:
There is no app for engaging patients in their own health care absent a strong doctor-patient relationship.
Physicians, hospitals and other providers are being misled by industry pundits claiming that more health information technology (as in EMRs, PHRs, Smart Phone apps, and web portals) is the key to greater patient engagement. It’s not.
If health information technology were all that was needed to “engage” patients then patient and member adoption rates of provider and payer web portals offering Personal Health Records (PHRs) and Electronic Health Records (EHRs) would not still be hovering around a disappointing 7% (with several notable exceptions Kaiser, Group Health and the VA).*
Part of the misunderstanding concerning the role of HIT comes from how the discussion about patient engagement is being framed. According to the pundits, patient engagement is the physician or hospital’s responsibility… and like everything else these days…we can fix it if we just throw more technology at the problem. Can anyone say Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements?
Here’s Why HIT Will Not Solve The Patient Engagement Challenge