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Survey: Patient Engagement Remains a Priority and Mystery

July 24, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a recently released survey from the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC), healthcare organizations are making consumer engagement a priority, even as they continue to figure out and define their strategies in the area. The survey found that 53 percent of respondents ranked consumer engagement as high or very high in their organization’s priorities.

Additionally, in the survey of 450 members of NeHC’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) Learning Network,33 percent say their strategies for consumer engagement with health IT are not clearly defined at all and 59 percent say their strategies for consumer engagement are evolving toward clarity. Only eight percent say their patient engagement strategies are clearly defined.

The survey was distributed in advance of NeHC’s recent Consumer Consortium on eHealth Engagement Summit. It looked at how organizations define consumer engagement, how they are using health IT to engage consumers and what challenges have been encountered.

“Effectively leveraging health IT to engage with patients and consumers will lead to better healthcare outcomes,” NeHC CEO Kate Berry said in a statement. “Our survey shows that a majority of organizations believe in the strategic importance of consumer engagement yet their strategies are understandably nascent. NeHC’s Consumer Consortium on eHealth and HIE Learning Network can serve as forums for sharing consumer engagement lessons learned to help accelerate progress.”

According to NeHC’s survey, 68 percent of the respondents wanted to use patient engagement to improve health outcomes, 66 percent want to use it to deliver information to patients, 59 percent want to use it to enable consumers to take more responsibility for their health, as well as reduce healthcare costs, 57 percent want to use it to improve consumers’ experience in interacting with their  organization.

The survey found there are many definitions for consumer engagement with health IT. Some of the respondents said it was patient uses electronic educational material or online resources to learn about better health or their own health conditions (74 percent). Others said it is patient refills prescriptions or accesses lab results or other personal health data online (72 percent). These were just a few. The rest are as followed:  

·      Patient engages with provider through electronic means (e.g. telemedicine) – 71 percent

·      Patient understands how their health records are stored securely, how they will be used and shared – 69 percent

·      Patient enables friend or family member to review medical records electronically when appropriate – 64 percent

·      Patient manages own health through the use of electronic home monitoring devices, health-related smart phone apps or online tools – 63 percent

·      Patient uses IT tools and resources to manage his or her medical record – 62 percent

·      Patient downloads his or her medical record and other health data to a personal health record or to a personal electronic storage device – 62 percent

·      Provider emails or texts reminders to patients – 60 percent

·      Patient makes medical appointments online – 60 percent

·      Patient emails provider with questions – 58 percent

Of the approaches, leaders are using to engage patients, 53 percent say they are delivering information electronically to patients, 47 percent are offering a patient portal, 43 percent are providing marketing or educational materials electronically, 31 percent are offering a personal health record, and 21 percent are offering remote monitoring to enable patient information to be transmitted to provider via electronic network.

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