Patient engagement: Docs need more training on how to talk to patients

Something as simple as mandatory remedial training for doctors on how to talk to patients will help accountable care organizations better engage with patients, experts said at the recent National Accountable Care Organization Summit.

Timothy Ferris, M.D., vice president of population health management at Partners HealthCare and medical director for Mass General Physicians Organization, said providers have to engage if they expect patients to engage, ACO Business News reported. Partners decided to conduct in-house training to teach doctors and nurses about patient engagement and how to communicate with patients.

"This has the potential to be denigrating or insulting," he said during a panel discussion, "but if you do it [carefully] it can be highly effective."

That type of physician engagement makes it more likely that patients will participate in population health management priority programs, including virtual visits with a specialist and shared decision-making, Ferris said, according to the article.

Provider engagement is key to a successful ACO partnership, Doug Chaet, senior vice president of contracting and provider networks at Independence Blue Cross, recently told FierceHealthPayer.

Doctors are the "quarterbacks of our healthcare delivery system," Chaet said in the interview, but they practice medicine differently. Another barrier to patient engagement may be widespread confusion over engagement, experts say.

For more:
- read the ACO Business News article