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Why patient engagement is so challenging to achieve

Get the "hows" and "whys" of healthcare patient engagement at HIMSS16

Publisher, Netspective Media

Patient engagement, one of the most important topics at last year’s Health Information and Management Systems Society 15 (HIMSS15) conference in Chicago, Illinois, returns to #HIMSS16 this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, 29 February – 4 March, 2016. The primary problem with defining patient engagement is that it’s multi-faceted, so there will be many educational sessions surrounding the concept. Take a look at some of the institutions that are involved in managing patients.

Given the different kinds of stakeholders, we have to ask ourselves several questions. What does patient engagement mean to a health insurance exchange (HIX) versus a health information exchange (HIE)? How do caregivers engage differently than casual consumers? How do insurers and employers see patients similarly? How do patients interact differently with pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies even though both manage drugs?

Removing layers

As you can see, things can get complicated pretty quickly, and we’re just looking at a few of the many kinds of institutions that patients have to deal with. And as if the issues raised by these questions were not convoluted enough, consider a few of the reasons why patients might want to engage with various stakeholders.

The reasons why patients may want to engage and how those reasons would need to be mapped to various stakeholders in diverse ways only further obfuscates patient engagement. For example, professional interactions with long-term care facilities would be slightly different and would require different tools than interaction with acute care hospitals. Similarly, participation in a clinical trial at an independent physician’s office would be different than patient engagement in a trial provided by a pharmaceutical firm. Their approaches and services would differ. As you start to remove the peel from the onion, you begin to realize that the reasons why patients would want to engage are as wide and varied as the groups that engage patients.

Taking note

Consider the two mappings just described as you take a look at the various facets of engagement that patients can encounter.

Ask yourself the following key questions while attending patient engagement education sessions or evaluating vendor solutions at #HIMSS16

  • Conditions: Will the engagement be disease specific or specific to patient condition? Will solutions be able to recognize that patients have been recently diagnosed with some ailment or that they are managing a chronic condition?
  • Procedures and therapies: Will engagement tools be capable of understanding whether a patient is being treated for specific conditions or that some therapies have been prescribed—medication or otherwise?
  • Active versus passive: Active means patients are supposed to be engaging in some action or interacting with a device or tool; passive means patients can use wearable devices or their data is used in other ways behind the scenes to ensure engagement. A passive approach is often the best course, but sometimes an active one is necessary. How can a solution accommodate both characteristics?
  • Institutional versus enterprise: Will a single institution manage the engagement on its own, or will multiple institutions work together in a group to manage it?
  • Personal versus institutional: Is the engagement being initiated on behalf of a patient or on behalf of an institution? If engagements are initiated on behalf of institutions, are patients’ goals and desires being appropriately accommodated?
  • Demography: Will age, gender and other patient demographics be taken into account to ensure the right level of engagement functionality is present?
  • Geography: Will geographic engagement based on targeted localization be available as part of the engagement? Can local retail pharmacies and similar organizations be integrated into the engagement? 

What are the facets you’ll be looking for in patient engagement solutions?

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