Even without universal agreement on “one” definition of patient engagement, two truths are emerging: a patient’s greater engagement in healthcare contributes to improved health outcomes, and information technologies can support engagement. The HIMSS Patient Engagement framework provides a five-milestone roadmap for health providers looking to support patients through the use of IT tools and resources: inform me, engage me, empower me, partner with me, and support my e-Community.
Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.
Financial health related to healthcare costs and types of insurance coverage also influences consumer health behaviors. Consumers and health providers’ financial incentives are beginning to align to foster patient engagement, including movements to provide transparency. Information and communication technologies may be disruptive to providers’ existing infrastructures, sunk investments and workflows.
Technology developers and providers keen on health informatics are taking advantage of several strategies to drive interoperability and streamlined communications. The growing use of patient portals, secure messaging (including email), and social media are reducing barriers in communication between providers and patients.
The phrase “patient engagement” means different things to different people and health industry stakeholders. One predominant definition for patient engagement is, “the relationship between patients and healthcare providers working together to promote and support active patient and public involvement in health and healthcare and to strengthen their influence on healthcare decisions, at both the individual and collective levels.”
The Center for Advancing Health offers a health engagement behavior framework based on behavior, defining engagement as “actions people take for their health and to benefit from healthcare.” The Patient Activation Measure (PAM), which classifies patients into one of four increasingly engaged levels, is gaining increasing attention among both U.S. and European health providers.
The HIMSS Patient Engagement framework provides a five-milestone roadmap for health providers looking to support patients through the use of IT tools and resources: inform me, engage me, empower me, partner with me, and support my e-Community.
The American Hospital Association’s Committee on Research developed a framework for engaging healthcare users that spans a continuum that includes the individual, the healthcare team, the organization, and the larger community, shown in Figure 1. What underpins this framework are information sharing, shared decision making, self-management, and partnerships—all key ingredients for engaging patients.
Overall, the study, sponsored by InterSystems, found that healthcare organizations are embracing patient engagement, articulating strategies and investing in technologies such as patient portals. But the in-depth analysis reveals that when leaders consider patient engagement, they question whether or not they are currently on a trajectory that will lead to the increased patient involvement required to improve clinicaloutcomes and reduce costs.
That healthcare leaders lack a clear patient engagement strategy is concerning, said Kathleen Aller, a business development executive at InterSystems. “Even if organizations have a vision for real patient engagement, many are 100 percent consumed with checking the boxes for meaningful use,” Aller said.
Even though healthcare organizations are continuously working to engage their patients in their care, many leaders don’t believe their efforts are working: On average, healthcare leaders and clinicians believe just 34 percent of their patients are highly engaged, according to an NEJM Catalyst Insights Council survey.