Patient portals and Meaningful Use in The Affordable Care Act stresses patient engagement.  Do you have a portal?  Have you been on one?

According to Dr. Mostashari, former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT):

“Patient engagement is the blockbuster drug of the century.”

With the new payment models underway where reimbursement will depend on patient outcomes as opposed to simply being paid for services rendered,  hospitals, healthcare facilities and medical practices are adopting the team-based approach stressing patient decision-making. Physicians also must make “meaningful use” of electronic health records and show that at least 5 percent of their patients communicate electronically about their care. This comes in the form of how many patients are registering and logging into patient portals that are provided by the medical site.

4 Ways to Engage Patients

  1. Provide updated online information for patients
  2. Promote interactions that encourage patients to communicate digitally with their doctors
  3. Provide educational resources
  4. Supply patient information in an easy to understand way that encourages viewing, downloading or discussion of information

Patients need access to health records through secure online portals, where they can also receive important treatment information without visiting the doctor. They should be able to make appointments and manage prescriptions remotely. Electronic health records  mark the beginning of a new interchange that allows patients to ask questions about their care digitally.

Patients must be involved in each step of their medical care.  In both hospitals and in medical practices, patients must be part of their care team with a true contribution or say in every decision that affects them.

Patient engagement  encourages connection to health professionals through monitoring devices and telemedicine. This enables them to stay home longer without hospitalization.  This also saves money for both the patients, family members and the medical community itself.

All aspects of the medical team need to be engaged with the patients including:

  • Nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Aids
  • Pharmacists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Family members

Tracking mental health issues, and mood as well as physical health can predict the imminent need for readmission to the hospital or healthcare facility. Discovering these problems earlier on, will enable professionals to address and correct these problems before they snowball out of control.  It will also enable compliance with treatment plans.

Determine which avenue your patient is more likely to be comfortable with.  Older patients can wear monitoring devices whereas younger patients may feel comfortable with iHealth devices and their smart phones alone with texting.

There is no doubt that patient engagement spells better health and shows that patients and medical professionals are indeed on the same team!

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