How to make consumer engagement more than just talk

Consumer engagement is more talk than reality, but there are actions that can be taken to fix that, according to a paper from Mathematica Policy Research published in eGEMS (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes).

The researchers sought to compare the rhetoric about consumer engagement with what's actually taking place through a literature review and interviews with 11 national leaders and staff from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

While the paper's authors found consumer interest high in using technology to gain access to their personal health information, patients face many frustrations in doing so.

"If consumer engagement is truly valued, it is critical to address technical shortcomings that limit interoperability and functionality and to create the incentives and knowledge needed to make consumer engagement more a priority for providers as well as consumers," the authors write.

For consumers, gaining electronic access to their health records is limited for those outside of large health systems. In addition, existing portals can be difficult to navigate and often are not integrated across all providers, even though consumer support for these efforts remains high, the report states.

The paper's authors recommendation:

  • Resolving technical barriers to health information exchange 
  • Developing more consumer-centric design and functionality
  • Reinforcing incentives that attract provider support by showing that consumer engagement is in their interest

Many consumers lack access to digital health communication tools and knowledge about them, according to a recent survey by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

However, HIE-sponsored personal health records can be more complete by including data from different providers and offer simpler, "one-stop shopping" for both patients and providers, a report from the ONC states.

To learn more:
- here's the paper (.pdf)