As patient engagement becomes more and more important to healthcare patients and the doctors who treat them, it has become imperative for healthcare providers to develop effective patient engagement frameworks that can be used to facilitate patient engagement. Achieving the triple aim of healthcare (improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of healthcare) requires physician-guided patient engagement.
Data is Power
At the heart of the patient engagement framework is the need for quality data. While there is a push to make this information available to the patients, there is an even greater need for comprehensive, reliable data for the doctor. We have many methods of generating data, from EHRs and data warehouses to personalized digital health devices, but collection and analysis of this data is still lacking.
In the past, people tended to remain with the same doctor for most of their lives, but because people are less stationary than they once were, keeping track of their data has become even harder, as healthcare providers can have a hard time gaining access or understanding the data that comes from different providers in different areas. Locating and analyzing the data can become quite time-consuming, which can be frustrating to doctors because it takes time away from face-to-face patient care.
The Importance of Sharing Data
By making medical information available to the patient through eHealth tools and resources, patients begin to feel less like patients and more like partners in their own care. Unengaged patients often feel helpless, which can prevent them from taking actions that might help them in their diagnosis. They begin to feel as if their health is out of their control. Engaged patients are more likely to make preventative changes to their lifestyle, such as a modified diet and/or exercise changes, which in turn can help their prognosis, thus showing the need for patient engagement framework.
In fact, a Harris poll conducted in 2014 suggests that nearly half of Americans are extremely or very interested in being able to check their blood pressure, their heart rate, and their heartbeat on their smartphone or tablet. This would allow patients to view their own health changes in real time, which could help emphasize the fact that they are capable of improving their own health.
Potential Areas of Online Patient Engagement
Broad Information – This section contains information such as physician directories, driving directions, health encyclopedia, printable forms, and individual test results and medication lists.
Engagement – This section contains symptom checkers, fitness and diet trackers, online interactive forms, bill pay, care instructions, reminders, and access to patient records.
Empowerment – This section contains safety reports and patient ratings of physicians, access to an online nurse and secured messaging, record correction requests, and patient generated data such as symptom assessments, questionnaires, and care experience surveys. It could also include online referral requests, Health Care Exchange integration, and images and videos in EHR.
Partnering – This section contains patient accountability scores, clinical trial records, condition specific self-management tools, access to summary of care, shared decision making, home-monitoring of devices, integrated records, and collaborative care.
Support – This section contains chronic care self-management, reminders for daily care, record distribution, and e-visit opportunities as part of ongoing care. This section would also include community support forums and resources for family, friends, and caregivers, as well as providing access to clergy, counseling, and services.
As you can see, patient engagement framework facilitates patient accountability by providing them with the resources they need to truly engage with their health and care options. They can also be incredibly useful for doctors, as they serve to collect and organize important data, guide patients through illnesses, facilitate online requests such as referrals and prescription refills, and allow patients to seek out information on their own so that they can take appropriate action. In the end, patient engagement benefits everyone, and ask it gains traction in the medical world, it has the potential to completely transform and improve the health care system as we know it.