How To Measure Patient Engagement

84323b69cfa10cf70e622b093e65ad9dThere is plenty of debate around whether patient engagement can be measured. Many doctors believe patient engagement is an elusive term created by regulators to make physicians’ and administrators’ lives more difficult.

As always, the reality is far from these assertions; patient engagement is pretty simple. You can break it down into three main pillars: mobile technology, communication, and patient health records.

Mobile Health or mHealth is an umbrella term that encompasses many things; including smartphone apps (e.g. pregnancy tracking apps), wearable technology, (e.g. fitness trackers), and consumer home health monitoring tools (e.g. a Bluetooth connected blood pressure cuffs). These tools help people track their health over time and understand different measurements physicians use to assess their level of illness or wellness. mHealth can gather data and health information in ways that weren't possible before, making a doctor's job much easier as each new innovation comes into the market.

Communication is core to good patient engagement. For example, telehealth services allow rural patients to connect to their physicians. Secure messaging services through patient portals such as DoctorBase allow patients to safely inform their providers about their health while outside of the office. The trend in health care is to move from episodic care to continuous care. Along the same lines, homes will become smarter and home health services will no longer be limited to seriously ill patients. In the future, “smart homes” will allow for shorter hospital stays and greater patient satisfaction. Social media is an additional way your practice can engage with your patients, which can be crucial in ensuring they stay within the boundaries of your treatments.

Patient health records and health record banks are examples of health records that patients engage with. Patients are getting smarter and they are starting to recognize the value of their health information. Many people desire to track their health over time. The Blue Button Initiative allowed VA patients to download their patient health record as well as self enter personal health indicators into their health record online. HHS and CMS ruled this year for patient access to lab results directly from testing sites.

These three major principles make up the core of "patient engagement." If you can understand the inner workings of these three core principles, then achieving Meaningful Use will be a breeze.

How are you doing on patient engagement? The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has provided self-assessment tools you might consider looking at to see how your practice is doing:

General Assessment:

Patient Portals:

Social Media:

About the Author

Dr. Molly is passionate about using technology to improve the lives of patients and healthcare providers. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of...

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