5 steps to engage patients in their healthcare data

The patient engagement requirement included in Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use incentive program has many providers worried about whether or not they'll be able to convince their patients to use interactive online tools to access their health data. The National eHealth Collaborative, a Washington, D.C.-based public-private partnership geared toward enabling nationwide health information exchange, thinks it might be able to help.

NeHC today released a model framework provider organizations can use to help spur patient engagement efforts. The model--dubbed the Patient Engagement Framework--is divided into five phases, each of which incorporates advice from organizations that have successfully launched and sustained patient engagement efforts. The five phases of the framework are:

  • Inform Me: The most basic level of patient engagement. In this phase, providers make tools and forms available to patients.
  • Engage Me: In this phase, patients have access to their electronic health records and take care of administrative tasks online, rather than in the office.
  • Empower Me: In this phase, patients use secure messaging to communicate with their providers
  • Partner with Me: In this phase, care is more seamless, as more advanced care management tools are utilized by patients to provide timely data to doctors.
  • Support My e-Community: In this phase, providers likely are participating in accountable care or patient-centered medical home efforts using a full array of electronic tools to communicate and manage patients.

"We are at a critical moment when patient engagement is becoming increasingly important given the movement toward Meaningful Use and accountable care," NeHC CEO Kate Berry said in a statement. "We as individuals should be more engaged in managing and improving our own health. This framework is intended as a guide organizations can aspire to as they move in this direction."

The model's creation likely was spurred on by a NeHC survey released earlier this year that found little agreement among health leaders as to the definition of patient engagement. Some providers, according to the survey, view patient engagement as patients having access to educational tools, while others see it as interaction via electronic tools. Still, almost all respondents agreed that patient engagement was a high priority.

"Given where health IT is as an industry--it's still so new--I think it's appropriate that people are thinking about consumer engagement in lots of different ways," Berry told FierceHealthcare. "These findings reinforce that we need to think broadly at this point."

To learn more:
- here's the NeHC announcement (.pdf)
- here's the framework overview
- check out the five steps (.pdf)

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