Patient Engagement Takes Center Stage


This month’s entire edition of Health Affairs was dedicated to the "New Era Of Patient Engagement." With the conversion of U.S. healthcare from fee-for-service to an accountable care models, along with the need to control the stem of rising costs from patients with chronic conditions, calling it a "new era" doesn’t seem too far fetched.

A letter from the editor-in-chief leads off with her opinions on patient engagement being recently referred to as the "blockbuster drug of the century." And the great thing about patient engagement is that it’s the "drug" that everyone can take to improve outcomes, no matter the condition being treated. Easier said than done, but certainly there is great promise if we can bring more focus, resources, and a systematic effort to the table.

Not surprisingly, a key study published in the issue found that patients with lower engagement scores cost more to treat. Modern Healthcare quotes: "Projected costs were 8% lower, on average, for those ranked in the top tier than the lowest ranked patients."This also enforces the notion that a knowledgeable and confident patient can help affect their outcomes.

Becker’s covered a Health Policy Brief from the same issue and from it distilled the 5 challenges of engaging patients:

  1. Patients’ health literacy
  2. Diverse backgrounds
  3. Cognitive issues
  4. Aversion to considering costs
  5. Provider culture

I believe these challenges are not insurmountable and that teams with the right tools collaborating and delivering information in the right way can overcome them. For example, we’ve been testing the increased use of video as a means to break language barriers. In other cases we’re using data analytics to help provider teams collect and understand patient biographic information.

There are lots of other great nuggets in this month’s publication so I encourage everyone to check out the full edition. We are hopeful to see even more industry research dedicated to patient engagement in the future. Our clients’ experiences with our patient engagement system have already shown value in multiple areas including costs, education, and satisfaction.

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