Creating the Connected Patient

September 2, 2012
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After watching Mitt Romney speak at the Republican National Convention, I was reminded of the importance of connecting with one’s customer.  While the jury is still out regarding the Republican presidential candidate’s ability to do just that, there is still time for healthcare providers to rethink their strategy for patient engagement.  And with the addition of a meaningful use patient engagement core objective sl

After watching Mitt Romney speak at the Republican National Convention, I was reminded of the importance of connecting with one’s customer.  While the jury is still out regarding the Republican presidential candidate’s ability to do just that, there is still time for healthcare providers to rethink their strategy for patient engagement.  And with the addition of a meaningful use patient engagement core objective slated for 2014, there is no better time than now to dive in.

In order for healthcare providers to draft a successful engagement strategy, Bob Spoerl noted the following trends in consumer healthcare:

  • Legislation is providing health consumers with more options regarding quality and price transparency
  • As patients begin to embrace this new data, providers with a strong brand and customer service orientation will be able to differentiate themselves through digital media
  • With the explosion of mobile, telehealth and social media, healthcare companies become uniquely positioned to deliver prevention and wellness messaging

In addition to noting key trends, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s new report on Engaging Patients and Families in the Quality and Safety of Hospital Care also points to gaps currently existing in many hospital patient engagement strategies:

  • Strategies aren’t attuned to patient and family member experiences of hospitalization; instead they focus on focus on hospital workflow
  • There is a lack of individual tools to support system-level strategies, such as patient and family advisory councils
  • There are too few interactive tools being utilized to incite behavior modification with ‘next steps’ and a concrete plan of action
  • While nursing staff play a pivotal role in patient education, they are not receiving adequate training or tools to leverage their position

Through unique utilization of their electronic medical record’s patient portal and freestanding kiosks, one enterprising healthcare provider, OSU Medical Center, has pushed to the forefront of patient engagement.

While the work that has been accomplished to date is laudable, I can’t help but wonder what OSU Medical Center could achieve if they had the ability to sync glucose or heart monitoring data from mobile devices?  Because, as Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA, a health economist and blogger admits, “you have to create in connected health systems incentives for patients to connect back,” and “you want to enable patient engagement, which requires interactive tools, carrots, and when appropriate, sticks.”