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A Look Back at the CHIME Fall CIO Forum: CIOs, Other Health IT Leaders Broadly Discuss Patient Engagement

April 1, 2016
by Matthew Weinstock, director of communications and public relations, CHIME
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Last October, at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Fall CIO Forum, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CHIME conducted a roundtable discussion that broadly focused on patient engagement. Included in the discussion were several prominent healthcare IT figures: Tim Stettheimer, CIO, Ascension Health; Brennan Lehman, CIO, Heartland Health; Marc Probst, CIO, Intermountain Health; Tom Crawford, CIO, Jupiter Medical Center; Brad Carey, vice president and general manager, population health, Cerner; Frank Nydam, healthcare vice president and chief technology officer, VMware; and Jim Giordano, CEO, CareTech. Matthew Weinstock, director of communications and public relations at CHIME, served as the moderator of the roundtable discussion. Below are excerpts of the discussions, edited by Healthcare Informatics.

Weinstock: This roundtable is really to collect your ideas and thoughts on the topic we're going to be touching on, which is patient engagement, and all the things that go into patient engagement, from security to disease monitoring, all of those topics, and get a sense of how hospitals and health systems and vendors are working together to achieve better patient engagement and achieve better care. 

The theme that we're looking at here is patient engagement and how hospitals, health systems and their vendor partners are working to achieve greater coordination and engagement with their patient populations. And, Marc, I kind of want to start with you on this topic. So, we have a lot of definitions of    patient engagement. I know a few years ago Intermountain kind of replaced the idea of patient experience with the patient engagement. Tell me what that meant organizationally and especially from your role as CIO how you were involved in that conversation. 

Probst: So, it really came down to the payment mechanisms that are coming out.  I mean, that's certainly what started the thinking, and what we really needed to focus on. I mean, we still need to have a great experience for our patients, but the goal is to not have them there at all.  If you're not going to do that, then you need to be able to engage them well before they show up, if they're at a clinic or at a hospital, or wherever else we might have an interaction with them.  That's what really started the thinking of how do we better engage with the patients. We even redefined the term patient to mean anyone, a member, a family member, any of those people, because the engagement wasn't external to the facility itself.  And we didn't like the word consumer, so we went in that direction. 

From an information systems (IS) perspective, what it meant was how can we use technology to better create that engagement or help facilitate it—the portals, mobile, telehealth, even voice communication is much better coordinated. So building call centers and professional centers and that type of thing, so that's really the direction we went and how IS got involved. 

Weinstock: And as Marc said, the definition of patient engagement is when they looked at them. I'm curious, for the rest of you, is that something you guys have struggled with internally?  How do you define a patient, and then how do you define patient engagement? 

Stettheimer: You know, we have had discussions now for years on this topic, some of it originating in the idea of patient centeredness, but then as you go deeper into that conversation and you realize that what we do is really not just about some acute incident in the patient's life, it is about the whole person, and you begin to expand your vision and the conversation.  So, you know, we've gone back and forth.  We've thought about the ideas, concepts of patients, customers; but we really laid it on a little bit with a few more words to describe this, which is, those we serve, because we realize it's not just the person who might be in a hospital bed or coming into a physician's office.  It really is about them and their families.  It's also about our providers, our clinicians who are interacting with them.  And so this concept of service, and really it's about all of these people, makes its way into our vision of engagement. 

Crawford: I’m with Jupiter Medical Center, a small community hospital in Florida, and half our population leaves, comes from, and goes back north. But we worked on an actual meaningful use, in terms of IT, it was a driver for us with the patient portal and getting those standards, and we were very active. This isn't high tech, but we brought in college kids to meet with the patients while they're in the beds in the hospital and actually showed them the portal, educated them on the portal, gave them a login, and actually when they left the organization, that same person called the patient back and said, hey, remember me, I'm Tom, and helped them log in. 

So we got our meaningful use numbers up very quickly with the hands-on approach.  But patient engagement in Jupiter really starts with the leadership team.  We're all involved in community clubs and organizations.  There's nine of us, and we are very active in the community, talking with patients, engaging in the community. It's a wealthy community, so they help us with our mission, which is very important.