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:
Tactic 1. Giving Patients Access to Online Records
Healthcare officials and facilities have found that the first step to increasing patient engagement is by giving patients online access to medical records and data.
Online access allows patients to double check records for accuracy and review “after-visit summaries” or doctor’s notes from the visit or checkup. Monitoring health records not only gives patients piece of mind outside of the doctor’s office or emergency room, but also allows patients to be more informed healthcare consumers. Lygeia Ricciardi, director of the Office of Consumer eHealth in the federal office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, says, “Becoming familiar with one’s own health records can help patients better understand their own condition and have more informed conversations with doctors.”
Conversely, there is a problem that facilities and providers face: many consumers are unaware that they can manage, check, and even download their records. To solve the problem, providers can receive incentives and facilities can even quality for federal funding to replace paper charts with EHR systems. Under the “meaningful use” guidelines, providers must provide patients and family members with the knowledge of online access and encourage decision-making.
Tactic 2. Embracing Patient Tools
A key component to patient engagement is convenience and ease during treatment and care. Currently, there are over 100,000 mobile health and fitness apps available for download. From calorie counters to 5k training, consumers have the ability to find and use technology that suits their health needs and goals.
Yet, even with the magnitude of apps available, the problem is finding the right app or tool for each patient. According to Joseph Kvedar, Director of the Center for Connected Health at Boston-based Partners Health Care System Inc., “Personalization is a key factor in engaging patients in their health and keeping them motivated to maintain healthy behaviors.”
For instance, as technology advances, patients will be able to manage blood pressure levels from home via a Bluetooth radio, play interactive videogames that help rehabilitate patients after orthopedic surgery, and allow patients with diabetes to track and monitor their weight and diet.
Providers must stay up-to-date with the latest technology to tailor to every individual patient’s needs and treatments. Attending classes, reading medical technology publications, and browsing the Web is a great way to learn about technology launches and reviews.
Tactic 3. Educating Patients
It’s critical for physicians “to get each patient just the information they need, at the time they need it and in a way they will trust and use it,” says Don Kemper, Chief Executive at Healthwise, Inc.
As a physician, one of the most important things you can do for your patients is to educate them by providing the necessary resources and links to online health guides and apps that teach patients the fundamentals when it comes to conditions and treatment processes.
A great starting point – informing patients about the benefits of EHRs. EHRs now provide patients with prescription information, doctor’s notes, progress reports, goals, and much more. Healthwise, a nonprofit global provider of health information, has been developing unique resources for patients. For example, patients can watch a short health video or read an article and share their knowledge and understanding via the EHR. The patient then can keep track of their progress, see their goals, and share their success or questions with their physician at the next visit.
Educational programs established by facilities can help patients learn about their conditions in a more fun and enjoyable manner. For instance, patients with diabetes can come together, through an interactive game or simple class, to combat struggling scenarios — like being offered a sweet treat — to manage the condition.
These are just a few of the many resources and tips available for facilities and physicians to engage patients. If you’d like to read more about the tactics facilities and physician can use, click here. (The Wall Street Journal)