“To be Effective, Patient Engagement Must be Defined”

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By: Waco Hoover, CEO, Institute for Health Technology Transformation

By: Waco Hoover, CEO, Institute for Health Technology Transformation

In April 2011 the Institute released a research paper on patient engagement entitled, “Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Engaging Patients”. The paper was produced in collaboration with leading industry experts from UCLA Health Sciences, Harvard University Health Services, FasterCures and other leading organizations with the goal of providing practical actions organizations can take to begin engaging their patient populations. Since that time patient engagement has become more than a ‘nice to have’ concept and now appears to represent a significant component of Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements. Countless industry experts suggest patient engagement is and will play a crucial role of Meaningful Use, ACOs, PCMH, population health management and other initiatives to streamline and reform health care.

It’s not just HHS and ONC that feels patient engagement will become a center piece for a safer, more affordable and cost effective health system. Over the past year patient engagement has received considerable attention from the media but also from industry think tanks and associations. Although the concept promises to deliver significant value creation for providers, patients and other stakeholders many gaps still exist for patient engagement to make an impact on the U.S. health system at large. Perhaps most important is the fact that patient engagement has yet to be defined which would enable organizations to build a framework for a patient engagement strategy and measure the efficacy of those programs. A recent National eHealth Collaborative stakeholder survey reported that there is little consensus among health care leaders as to what patient engagement is. So where then do we go from here?

The next logical step in fostering the patient engagement movement is to work with a broad base of industry stakeholders to define what patient engagement is and what affect it should have on patient care. A number of organizations have attempted to define patient engagement but most definitions are incomplete and lack actionable steps that truly engage patients in their care to affect outcomes. In an effort to establish a starting point, the Institute has proposed the following definition of patient engagement:

“Patient engagement is an activity that involves a series of proactive and calculated actions between providers and patients. Actions should be taken based on patient data, population health data and evidence-based best practices. Patient engagement activities positively affect the quality of care received and ultimately improve outcomes”

In an effort to aid the health care community in developing patient engagement strategies that will enable them to meet Stage 2 MU, improve coordination of care and assist in other initiatives the Institute is launching a broad based industry coalition to define and establish best practices for patient engagement. The Institute is currently confirming participation and support of the project with key industry leaders. If you and your organization are interested in participating in this important initiative please contact Wyatt Royce, Director or Education of Programs at or 561-748-6775.


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