November 4, 2013

Meaningful use stage 2 is rapidly approaching and this time patient engagement is key.  Yes, earlier stages of meaningful use required physicians to provide Patient Health Records (PHRs) to patients…but not to persuade patients to make use of it.  Stage 2 requires eligible professionals (physicians) to provide patients with online access to their health-related information within 4 business days. Also, at least 5% of the patients must have viewed, downloaded, or transmitted their information to a 3rd party during the reporting period.  There is no doubt patient engagement is the key for success in this stage.  As you can see, patients will be going through many changes in the way healthcare is provided and their adjustment to these changes must be supported and guided by their physicians.  Even with all the changes made by healthcare providers, success will not be reached without patient buy in.  Physicians must encourage and engage patients to use the new technologies, developing them into “patients 2.0”.

But the physicians are not the only responsible parties here; the design of PHRs provided to patients will have a significant impact on patient engagement.  PHR developers must always have in mind that patients need to be provided with easy-to-use tools that not only makes health-related information available, but that triggers them to become engaged in their health.  Let’s be honest, no one would like to use a PHR where the patient needs to do all the work, these tools need to be developed so that they are easy enough to be used and smart and persuasive enough to capture the attention of every patient.  Physicians need to be careful in the selection of the PHR they would be providing for patients. Providing PHRs will no longer meet the requirement; now patients must actually use them.  In order to achieve this, PHRs must provide some value to patients.

Clearly, the rate at which the patient will become engaged in their wellness will depend on the effectiveness of the PHRs available and recommended by physicians, as well as the education and encouragement patients will receive from their healthcare providers.  We have known for quite awhile that patient engagement is vital for the improvement of healthcare services and the success of Health IT.   Naturally, many challenges await us, but many efforts are also underway to surpass these challenges. Patient engagement has been OVERDUE and now it’s time to develop patients 2.0.

Edited by: Mrs. Megan Costilow


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