CIO: To increase engagement, use the IT tools you have

Technology will be central to hospitals' efforts to engage patients in their care and meet Meaningful Use requirements, writes Joey Hobbs, CIO of Community Hospital Anderson, in a recent post to healthsystemCIO.com.

"When the Stage 2 requirements originally came out, many in the industry talked of how unfair it was to force hospitals to make patients become engaged. My stance is more the mindset that if we as hospitals don't work to engage patients, who will?" he writes.

The Anderson, Ind., hospital's efforts include recording discharge instructions so that patients or family members can go back and review them later. After all, when they're all set to go home, they might not be focused on what they need to do later.

Hobbs argues that to get patients on board, hospitals have to use the tools they have. Big Data also holds the potential to capture an enormous amount of data that can be used to not only improve care, but show trends that might convince patients to make healthier choices, he says.

The Bipartisan Policy Center has called online tools the key to engaging patients in their own care. It advocates more education about available online tools as well as adoption of standards and policies to promote patient involvement.

Meanwhile, the National eHealth Collaborative has called engagement a must to transform healthcare. It is creating a Patient Experience Framework on using health IT to bring patients and providers closer together. A companion to its Patient Engagement Framework, the new advice will include a guide for providers regarding how different personas think, feel, act, experience and interact with providers, along with maps and other tools.

In its most recent survey, if found that most providers still communicate by phone or face-to-face, but use of health IT applications including smartphones, text messaging, social networking and email is growing. It foresees online and mobile technology becoming more important as use of print media declines.

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