Patient Engagement is not just the new buzz word in healthcare, but it is here to stay. Healthcare providers do not need to look far to find examples. HITECH Meaningful Use, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Home, and Commission on Cancer standards are proof that patient engagement will be required in the new care model. These new models are about giving patients electronic access to their personal health information and personalized patient education materials, or more simply said “Patient Engagement”. To deliver on these new requirements, providers will need to look at technology solutions like patient portals.
New Rules Require Physicians to Provide Patient Engagement
Many providers today are worried about what’s required for them tomorrow. Patient engagement is quickly becoming one of those requirements that providers must be ready to address. Why does patient engagement matter? There’s a universal belief that patients are an important stakeholder in healthcare, after all they have the most at stake, and their involvement can lead to better healthcare outcomes at a better overall cost. While this is true, there is a common perception that it is the doctor’s responsibility to take care of patients. Healthcare professionals are beginning to learn, that engaging patients in their care by informing and educating them is a far more effective way and will deliver better outcomes. A study published by HealthAffairs shows that patient engagement will lead to better clinical outcomes and lower cost. The solution to solving patient engagement is the patient portal.
Patient Engagement: Inform & Educate
To engage patients in their care, providers must inform and educate them about their care. The use of technology, but more specifically patient portals will be instrumental in delivering this new care model. Inform
The first step to engaging patients in their care is by giving patients electronic access to their personal health information. A 2012 Navigating Cancer survey says 75% were interested in having access to their medical records securely online and the top 2 portal features patients were interested in are: 1) viewing labs & tests and 2) online secure messaging with doctor. Giving patients access to their health information now makes the patient an active participant in their care and is the first step in patient engagement.
The second step to engaging patients in their care is by educating them along their cancer journey. Technology solutions exist that will allow providers to educate patients along their cancer journey instead of the previous way at diagnosis. Patients can stay engaged along the cancer continuum by receiving the right information, at the right time, from their preferred source, their providers. A 2012 Navigating Cancer survey shows 77% were interested in reading cancer education materials personalized to their diagnosis from expert sources. Patients who are educated about their diagnosis and now receiving resources specifically related to that diagnosis, make patient engagement the new care model.
Patient Engagement Will Lead to Improved Patient Satisfaction
Besides worrying about future requirements, providers must also focus on patient satisfaction. Patients now have access online to compare providers. Patients will choose providers based on the quality of care. Technology solutions, like patient portals are becoming a key differentiator for providers to demonstrate they give the best quality of care. Portals allow providers to keep patients informed, educated and engaged in their care.
Finding a portal solution that is cancer specific and focused solely on the patient is a challenge. Finding a portal solution that keeps patients informed by providing access to personal health information, but can also educate them long the cancer journey is a must. Providers must find those technology solutions that can be an extension of their care model that will improve patient engagement and lead to improved patient satisfaction.