How to take patient engagement to the next level

Thanks to shifts away from the paternalistic model of care, technological innovations, consumer-driven care and other forces, today's patients are more engaged in their healthcare than ever, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune.

However, barriers to the transition toward patient-centered care remain. Consider the following ways your practice can work through them:

  • Elicit patients' goals. Patients have varying degrees of comfort in making difficult decisions about their care, but almost all can articulate their goals for what they want that healthcare to achieve as a means toward shared decision-making. Physician-patient communication during all appointments may be more effective if doctors ask patients, especially those managing chronic disease, to write down their goals beforehand, said Claudia Nichols, founder of Pilot Health Advocates.
  • Share notes. OpenNotes, a national initiative started in 2010, is working to give patients access to all clinicians' notes, including test results, medications and sometimes physician commentary. Primary care physicians throughout the country, including the Mayo and Cleveland clinics, are participating in OpenNotes, and more than 5 million patients--and counting--now have access to them, the Tribune reported. In fact, a $10 million infusion of new funding is aimed at expanding the OpenNotes program to 50 million patients nationwide, FierceEMR reported recently. Evidence shows that sharing notes helps make care more efficient, promotes dialogue and helps patients become more actively involved with their care.
  • Recognize patients' level of health literacy. All the physician communication in the world won't help much if patients don't understand it, which research shows many do not. Therefore, doctors must determine what health information patients do understand, communicate with any limitations in mind and refer patients to additional resources that help them learn more about their conditions, said Sarah Krug, founder of the Health Collaboratory.

To learn more:
- read the article