It seems that while everyone in healthcare is talking about patient engagement, many are struggling to come up with strategies to achieve it.
Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use electronic health records (EHR) incentive program requires 5 percent of patients to log into and upload data via a portal or personal health record for providers to earn incentive payments from the program. And last year, the National eHealth Collaborative and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) created the Patient Engagement Framework, which was vetted by over 150 healthcare stakeholders, and is meant to help providers understand how to start and continuously improve a patient engagement initiative. According to the lead authors of the framework, a properly implemented patient engagement strategy should transform the way a health system delivers care.
To further push the patient engagement movement and give recognition to those medical centers that make a true commitment to getting patients invested in their own health, Axial Exchange, a Raleigh, N.C.-based health IT software provider, ranked U.S. hospitals state-by-state based on an analysis of publically available data in three categories: personal health management, patient satisfaction and social media engagement. Personal health resources was given the highest weight and took into account tools that hospitals make available to patients like websites, mobile apps, or interactive tools to help them manage their health.
Axial has constructed a Patient Engagement Index (PEI) in three states thus far—Florida, Texas, and California—with rankings for the other states coming in the next several months. The company says that while the US News and World Report has produced its popular hospital rankings for 23 years running, those rankings don’t include patient satisfaction. Consumerization in healthcare is driven not only by the transparency brought about by the internet, but also by rising deductibles and a boom in patient engagement. The term ‘patient engagement’ has been so widely used that its true meaning has been diffused; people talk broadly about improving patient engagement, but have not done the analysis and research to determine exactly what types of patient engagement programs improve outcomes, Axial officials say.
Axial said it decided to focus on Florida first because the state's demographics are a "bellwether" for the rest of the U.S. As such, in Titusville, Fla., Parrish Medical Center (PMC), a 210-bed acute care hospital, landed atop the Florida PEI, which included 74 major hospitals in the state. PMC scored 89 out of 100 on the index, one of just three Florida hospitals to score above 80.
For Axial’s index, maximum points in the personal health management category are awarded to health systems that not only offer electronic access to patient health records, but also provide resources needed for the day-to-day management of disease. The best health systems offered these tools via the device of the patient's choice: desktop, tablet, and mobile. The information was gathered from publicly available websites and mobile applications.
Natalie Sellers, chief communications officer at PMC, says the medical center’s HealthBridge program— an online patient portal designed to be the community’s ‘bridge’ to manage all of their health needs—“provides a health management platform that helps to coordinate care in a way that enhances the overall healthcare experience and provides easy access to personalized health resources including education, breaking news, personal messages from your physicians, and health tracking tools all delivered via your smartphone, tablet, computer, or by mail.”
HealthBridge includes: a personalized page based on health interests; communication whichever way the patient wants it; one- click access to an exclusive health education video library; the ability to RSVP online for events and classes; and for patients of Parrish Medical Group physicians, the ability to e-mail physician offices, request prescription refills, schedule office appointments, and view lab results.
“We use patient relationship management technology (also known as customer relationship management, or CRM) to engage the right patient, at the right time, with the right information based on an individual’s specific health profile. We use that technology to deliver personalized health management education and tools from anywhere, at any time,” says Sellers.
In other attempts to improve patients’ personal health management, PMC has launched a series of online presentations, called Emmi, that make complex medical information easy to understand, says Sellers. “We empower patients to take action around their particular healthcare event or condition in language they understand, at a time when they are ready to learn, and through the devices they already own. Using a soothing voice, animated graphics, and easy-to-read text, Emmi programs take you through your upcoming procedure or help you manage your chronic condition.”
A further example of personal health management at PMC is its Ask 3 Initiative, which urges patients to ask the following three questions every time they talk to a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist: What is my main problem? What do I need to do? Why is it important for me to do this?