The Importance of Patient Engagement in a Successful HIE

May 1, 2012
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Written by John Smith, Director of Communications at ICA

Written by John Smith, Director of Communications at ICA

Patient engagement and health information exchange (HIE): These are two of the mantras of the modern healthcare environment. But what are the drivers of success in this environment?

With the clear awareness that HIE is one of the most comprehensive and important channels for moving critical patient information to the point of care at the moment of need, the role of the patient is increasingly recognized as a critical success factor. Without a patient-centric approach that includes engaging individuals in their own healthcare process, HIEs may fall short of facilitating connectivity among patients, physicians, clinics, and hospitals whether they are an integrated delivery network (IDN), a community, or a state.

What is patient engagement as it relates to HIE? As the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Meaningful Use continue to gain momentum, electronic health records (EHR) are inevitably destined to become ubiquitous in physician practices, clinics, hospitals, and IDNs. And while the creation of a longitudinal patient record is key to the core implementation of an HIE, the burden of meaningful EHR use cannot be placed solely on a physician for accountability and continuity of care. The willingness of a patient to participate in and manage his or her own medical care will likely translate into a magnification of existing variances in quality of care. This magnification will also affect the aimed-for reduction of cost of care. As with every other aspect of a patient’s ability to care for his or herself, disparity in patient engagement will hamper the effectiveness of the EHR and the HIE as patients’ access, review, and participation in their own medical records at different levels.  Increasing the consistency with which patients engage with new technology will be critical in achieving higher-quality outcomes at a reduced cost.

This engagement is particularly crucial in the rollout and success of an HIE. By definition, an HIE is broad in scope, often covering numerous territories, counties, regions, and even states. Its goals are to  go beyond the system connectedness often found in a large physician practice by connecting unrelated physician practices, hospitals, IDNs, and clinics in a significant geographic region, such as a large metropolitan area like Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri) or a large rural area like Montana. That means the scope of its mission, requiring comprehensive and complex technology, cannot fully succeed without patients buying into the idea of improving and managing their own healthcare. As consolidated clinical information becomes available through HIEs, patients will need to be educated in the use of that information to effectively take responsibility and accountability for their own health.

As healthcare continues to be increasingly patient driven, patients, as the ultimate consumers of their own healthcare, will be called upon to ensure exceptional healthcare for themselves and their families. This will be particularly true in the case of HIEs. As physician practices, hospitals, and clinics in far-flung geographic areas continue to be tied together by healthcare technology, the coalescing glue for ultimate success will be an attentive and alert patient working together with his or her physician, hospital, and other healthcare entity to improve health and ensure that vital clinical information is available when and where it’s needed. This is an essential step in the transformation of the healthcare delivery system into a system for the delivery of health.

About ICA:

Informatics Corporation of America (ICA) is more than just another health information technology (HIT) company selling “products” to hospitals and health systems. With deep roots in a uniquely clinical background, our mission is to offer you the proven technology already helping practicing clinicians in their quest to transform healthcare. At ICA, our approach goes beyond simple health information exchange (HIE), we are committed to the use of advanced data exchange to transform the healthcare experience.