Healthcare News & Insights

Group publishes 5-step plan for patient engagement

While health IT in general is becoming more popular, providers, vendors and other groups are still trying to find the best ways to use technology to engage patients. 

Some of the health IT tools providers are using to engage patients include online access to medical records, self-service portals for scheduling appointments and requesting prescription refills, and mobile apps that help track symptoms and treatment plans.

But while doctors recognize the benefits of those tools and patients want access to them, there are some challenges that remain before they’re adopted and used to the fullest extent.

One obstacle health care organizations should work to get rid of is that providers have historically been reluctant to involve patients in many processes, according to the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC). Despite an increase in so-called healthcare consumerization and interest from many patients to become more engaged, some doctors still believe patients don’t have the knowledge or desire to be fully engaged in their own care, the NeHC says.

However, the group also warns organizations not to go too far too soon and instead recommends a process made up of simpler steps to get patients and doctors on board gradually. In its Patient Engagement Framework, the NeHC recommends a five-step approach:

  1. Inform patients by offering forms and resources, including directories, maps and other information about the organization, as well as health encyclopedias and information about wellness and prevention.
  2. Engage patients by giving them access to their own records and customized educational information online, as well as letting them request appointments and refills and complete other administrative tasks via the Internet.
  3. Empower patients by offering them the information they need to make better decisions about their own care, as well as gathering their feedback about their experiences.
  4. Partner with patients to develop customized wellness and treatment plans and the health IT tools that support those plans.
  5. Support patients by helping them compare providers, treatments and medications in terms of cost and quality and offering electronic reminders to keep up with their care.

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