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Patient Engagement: It’s Personal

Sep 06, 2013 02:29PM ● By MED Editor

The new era of healthcare focuses on patient engagement as a way to reduce costs and 

Jane Schuster

improve outcomes. Practically everyone in the industry agrees that patient engagement is important, but there is no consistent definition.

A survey conducted by the National eHealth Collaborative last year revealed that some health leaders thought patient engagement meant using educational material and online resources to better understand their condition, while others believed it meant being comfortable enough to discuss questions and health issues with doctors face-to-face.

While patient engagement will continue to be difficult to define, the lack of consensus gives health-care organizations flexibility to experiment with different approaches. Keep these things in mind as your organization seeks to improve patient engagement:


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to patient engagement. 

Proactive, personalized outreach is key. Healthy patients need to focus more on disease prevention and wellness, while those with chronic illness will need more intensive care management. The future is data analytics, which will help healthcare organizations identify high-risk patients who require more intervention.


Embrace EHR technology. 

Technology has empowered consumers in nearly every part of our lives—from online banking and bill paying to social networking and entertainment—and now it’s enabling us to become more active in our healthcare. Engaging patients in their healthcare is a central tenet of Meaningful Use, also called the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program. This policy aims to improve patients’ understanding of their health and related conditions so they can take a more active role in their healthcare. Experts say providers’ adoption of EHR is critical to transforming a health-care system to one that focuses on outcomes rather than services.


Mobile health provides an incredible opportunity. 

A recent article says mobile health strategies will drive greater patient engagement and provider accountability—helping your organization stay plugged into every patient need. Consumers are increasingly turning to apps on their smartphones to help them manage their diet and fitness, and even measure their blood pressure. New mobile health monitoring devices are constantly being introduced to the market, giving organizations another opportunity to engage and empower their patients.

Patient engagement is not a new concept, but it’s certainly the buzz phrase of the healthcare industry. At the end of the day, the goal is to reduce costs while engaging consumers to proactively manage their care.

Jane Schuster is a marketing specialist at Cassling, a Midwest health-care company that provides local imaging equipment sales and service, and marketing and professional services.

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