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Digging Deeper on Patient Engagement

October 21, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) is looking to help health systems better understand what patients want to get out of interactions with their providers, health records, and health education.

NeHC, the Washington, D.C.-based public-private partnership aimed at accelerating the use of health IT,  is teaming up Healthwise, a non-profit that develops health content and patient education for payers and providers, on the patient experience framework. It’s an evolution of the patient engagement framework, a platform that NeHC developed to give providers a basic 5-step guide to engaging patients. With this project, they will dig even deeper.  

“One of the things that we thought would be really helpful is to flip the [framework] around and make it much more consumer friendly, and to take into consideration, the different categories of people that would engage with the system, or have different expectations and needs and objectives for how they engage,” NeHC CEO Kate Berry said in an exclusive interview with Healthcare Informatics.

Kate Berry

Using a Deloitte Center for Health Solutions research effort, “The U.S. Health Care Market: A Strategic View of Consumer Segmentation,” as a backdrop, the organizations defined six types of consumers that comprise the healthcare consumer market. Those six types are casual and cautious; content and compliant; online and onboard; sick and savvy; out and about; and shop and save.

With this framework, NeHC and Healthwise are aiming to find out what each of those segments wants out of their experience with healthcare providers. From there, it plans on coming up with “journey maps” for these personas, which organizations can use figure out how to best engage particular patients. Those journeys will be mapped across the patient engagement framework, which has five steps: “inform me,” “engage me,” “empower me,” “partner with me,” and “support my e-community.”

The project is being led by Leslie Kelly Hall, senior vice president of Policy at Healthwise. She says an important aspect of the process will be matching the emotive responses of the patients and personas with the proper technology. For instance, when a patient says they want to know if their charges are fair, it’s an opportunity for the provider to be more transparent with pricing. When a patient wants to know what a practitioner has said, it’s an opportunity for medical record access.

“We take verbatim of each one of these [patient answers] and go back and see what the similarities are across the board. I think it will be helpful to providers who want to design their health system to be more engaging, and for HIT vendors to make sure they are addressing that sweet spot of market spot. We think this research will address many needs,” Hall says.

The research is ongoing, and NeHC expects it be completed by 2014. Currently, project leaders have teamed with several provider organizations, Hall says, to further develop the framework. They’re also looking for volunteers to help in this regard, and Berry says NeHC will engage several different groups through webinars that will help stakeholders understand the personas, discuss feedback, and contribute their experiences to the research. Additional, on-site sessions will be available, in which organizational leadership teams can both contribute to NeHC’s research and receive strategic advice.

If the patient engagement framework was the top level, the experience framework will aim to dig deeper, says Hall. It’s about understanding the emotion, need and connect that patients have with their system and their doctor. “It’s getting to the emotion and needs behind the technology,” she says.