Look beyond healthcare industry for patient engagement inspiration

In an effort to improve patient engagement, providers may benefit from looking for inspiration beyond U.S. healthcare, or even the industry altogether.

For example, Netflix's business model holds several vital lessons for patient engagement, according to HIT Consultant. When the company initially formed in the late 1990s, its primary service was DVD delivery, replicating the video stores that dominated the home video market at the time. But as the stores fell out of fashion, Netflix shifted its model toward video streaming rather than clinging to a less profitable strategy. Healthcare must be as flexible, according to the article.

Technical advances, such as telehealth and online patient portals, can help the industry offer convenience to patients and also involve them in their own care, according to the article. Like Netflix's approach, technology can help meet patient needs without them having to leave home. The combination of convenience and personalization is a hallmark of several other successful companies healthcare can learn from as well, including Disney, Starbucks and Lowe's.

It also pays to look internationally. Despite limited healthcare resources and health literacy, the African continent has made numerous patient engagement advances in recent years, Nick van Terheyden, M.D., chief medical officer for Dell Healthcare, writes at MedCityNews. To boost health literacy, providers in Tanzania send text messages to pregnant women throughout their pregnancies to provide relevant information. Similarly, a pilot project based in South Africa's Cape Town used a texting program to drive up treatment adherence for tuberculosis patients.

A key part of the patient engagement puzzle is understanding that patients don't always make the right choice in their own care, and providers should create engagement processes that allow for that freedom of choice but still point patients in the right direction, Douglas Hough, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Healthcare IT News. "You have to make it easy for them" without doing everything, he said. "You're finding ways of getting patients to do the things they need to do."

To learn more:
- read the HIT Consultant article
- here's the MedCityNews article
- check out the Healthcare IT News article