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Activating Patients Through Engagement

October 22, 2013 | By Editorial Staff

Patient engagement is a major focus for health providers across the country. As hospital reimbursements begin to fluctuate based on patient satisfaction and other measures, there’s more incentive than ever before to ensure patients are taking an active role in their care.

With health providers adopting a number of new patient engagement strategies that aim to decrease hospital readmissions and drive down costs, it’s critical to recognize that both the provider and the patient have important roles to play.

Blair Butterfield, North American president of VitalHealth Software, notes in a recent EHR Intelligence article:

“The whole pendulum has shifted away from the early years of PHRs, which was all about what I would call patient empowerment — putting the data in the hands of that patient and giving them control of their destiny and their selective sharing of data with whom they want to see it. It shifted from that to what I would say now is patient engagement…”

Butterfield attributes this change to the fact that many patients revert to their old behaviors once left to care for themselves. This shift reveals why it is increasingly important to engage patients so that they become activated.

Patient activation is essential to advancing quality outcomes, improving health status and as a result, lowering the cost of care. Industry thought leaders advocate that patient engagement, leading to patient activation, must be one of the core pillars to carry out the transformation needed to succeed under a new, risk-based payment paradigm. Many providers acknowledge the importance of patient engagement and the resulting activation, but face challenges in achieving it.

Engaging with patients can be understandably labor-intensive, which is why providers have sought to innovate, automate processes, and implement technologies that keep patients fully invested in their care. Such technologies will improve patient engagement, and the resulting activation of patients can help lead to better satisfaction and outcomes and lower costs.

Patient engagement is as much a provider issue as it is a patient issue. As focus continues to shift to engagement, it’s essential that providers embrace new technologies and innovations that keep patients activated across the care continuum.

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