What is Patient Engagement?
Since the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program, Meaningful Use (MU), in 2011, the term patient engagement has become nearly ubiquitous in US healthcare policy discussions. It is now the driving concept behind CMS’s proposed financial reimbursement paradigm shift that focuses on a move from fee for service care to value based care.
Despite the emphasis that has been placed on the term “patient engagement” and its widespread use among health IT vendors in their marketing campaigns, many healthcare providers still have a vague concept of what patient engagement is and many doubt if it’s genuinely beneficial.
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement is a multi-faceted concept that includes a patient’s knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage his or her own health. The overall goal of patient engagement is to capitalize on a patient’s involvement in shared decision making to promote behavior that has a positive impact on health outcomes. According to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente, patients who are engaged are more likely to adhere to a medical plan, communicate freely with their provider, and be loyal to a particular healthcare system – all of which leads to better health outcomes.
Utilizing Healthcare IT to Engage Patients
As the concept of patient engagement has been pushed to the forefront of US healthcare policy, the healthcare IT market has evolved to meet the growing need. Within the past 20 years, the healthcare IT market has shifted from exclusively focusing on revenue cycle management (RCM) software to a broader focus that includes electronic health record (EHR) systems and now patient engagement technology. A further testament to the importance of patient engagement technology is the fact that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of patient engagement software is expected to significantly outpace the CAGR of other sub categories in healthcare IT.
Current Trends in Patient Engagement Technology
According to a recent HIMSS survey, Patient Portals are the most commonly used patient engagement technology, with 87% of clinics using then as their primary engagement tool. For many health systems, simply having a basic patient portal is the cornerstone of a patient engagement strategy. Basic patient portal functionality includes:
- Viewing medical information like health summaries and lab results
- Messaging providers and staff
- Appointment information
- Bill pay
- Prescription refills
With patient portal use becoming a cornerstone of healthcare delivery and consumer demand for quality healthcare IT increasing, patient portals are developing advanced functionality that facilitate patient engagement. The advanced portal features that are available on the market include:
- Mobile app based access
- Appointment self-scheduling
- Care plans
- Patient Education
- Patient Surveys
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) device integration
Patient Engagement in the 21st Century and Beyond
With an aging US population and limited financial resources to provide healthcare to an ever increasing medically complex population, providers have no choice but to embrace the concept of patient engagement as a tool to lower healthcare costs. The good news is patient engagement works, there is mounting evidence that patients who are engaged are overall healthier with lower healthcare costs. Bridge Patient Portal is an industry leader in patient engagement technology. Our patient portal is the most advanced vendor-neutral patient portal on the market and our newly available mobile app enhances the patient engagement features of our patient portal.