Patient engagement is one of the many aspects of the health care industry that the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been continuously working to improve with the help of electronic health records. If people are more up to date and involved in their health through tools like patient portals, the sector may begin to see healthier patients.
What can practices do to increase patient engagement?
The CMS and the ONC have made it clear that patient engagement is crucial to better patient outcomes and satisfaction through the recently proposed stage 3 meaningful use requirements. The regulations require that providers make sure that at least 25 percent of their patients are using patient portals to download, access and transmit their health data.
Although many health professionals have expressed that this percentage may be too high, the CMS has assured the industry that further involving patients in their wellness and physical health has a good chance of resulting in better population health outcomes. Individuals who are invested in their well-being through regular management and monitoring of their health will often end up eating more nutritious diets, adhering to their medications and exercising.
To push patient engagement in the right direction, providers with EHRs and patient portals must continue encouraging their patients to use patient portals. According to EHR Intelligence, as long as patient portals are being promoted, it does not matter who sits down with patients and explains how to use it – everyone from the physicians themselves to the nurses and administrative staff can play a role in increasing patient engagement.
Survey shows EHR updating increases patient engagement
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society recently issued a report featuring a roadmap as a guide for health care providers who are trying to enhance their patient engagement strategies. The report also explains the importance of patient engagement and how it can significantly improve health outcomes for all of the providers who have not prioritized it.
The HIMSS even provides a clear definition of patient engagement to better emphasize how vital it is to the future of health care. The organization sums it up as the necessary relationship between health care providers and their patients, one in which they work together to improve public health and increase the impact that patients have on industry decisions.
EHR systems are vital to improving patient engagement, as they strengthen communication channels through secure messaging within the patient portal. It is important that providers are investing in technology from a vendor that has provided them with the right tools to better engage with their patients. Monitoring health information is difficult for patients who receive care from providers without EHRs and tools like patients portals.
"Effective patient engagement technology is not about what people should do, but how to make it easier to do the right thing," stated HIMSS officials in the report. "For too many patients, and particularly for those people managing multiple conditions, health care access is a hassle with different slices of personal data stored with different providers and payers and no 'easy button' to press to get a comprehensive view of their health journey."
A 2015 survey by Accenture showed that heath IT is benefiting patients and providers in certain areas. For example, the fact that patients can update their own medical records has had a positive impact on patient engagement. A total of 82 percent of the 2,169 doctors surveyed agreed that the ability for patients to update their information through EHRs has also led to improvements in patient engagement, while 71 percent reported feeling this has also resulted in enhanced communication between patients and their doctors.