Disease management, routine followup fertile ground for patient engagement

Technology to manage chronic disease and provide routine follow-up could help providers get to that 5 percent patient engagement threshold required in Meaningful Use Stage 2, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Getting patients involved in their own health has proven difficult even for physicians to embrace social media and other technologies.

Howard J. Luks, chief of sports medicine and arthroscopy at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., for instance, publicizes his email address and Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts on his website and on his business cards, yet patient response has been low. He persists because he see the technology's potential, he says.

He encourages patients to send photos of how their incisions are healing, and says he has found blood clots earlier than he would have had he not been available online.

Many physicians see post-op and post-acute care as areas most likely to provide patient engagement. Indeed, one recent study found telehealth effective for post-op follow-up for some low-risk procedures, while another found wireless monitoring of elderly cardiac patients recovering from surgery an effective way to assess their post-discharge care.

Patients will have to perceive value in the technologies that healthcare organizations provide for interacting or they won't use them, the article points out. That value could be in the convenience of an online conversation as opposed to visiting the doctor's office.

Patient portals can be great ways to deliver test results, patient education and for patients to ask questions.

"You can make it as powerful as Facebook is," Charles E. Christian , vice president and CIO at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Ga., says in the article, adding that they can be a good way for patients with lots of questions after discharge to get answers.

To learn more:
- read the U.S. News article

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