What is Patient Engagement?


Patient engagement can mean a lot of different things to different people. It means one thing to the healthcare provider and it means one thing to the patient. It may mean something else to the patient’s family or it may mean something else to the head of your organization. Healthcare is changing and with change means new ideas and new ways of providing care to our patients. Healthcare is expensive and we need to figure out how to get the job done with the least amount of cost but the best care possible for our patients.  We need to figure out how to improve the patient experience while focusing on outcomes and reducing costs. This is not an easy task.

 

According to athenahealth, a leading electronic medical record company, true patient engagement refers to three things.  The first is that patient engagement refers to the knowledge, skills, ability and willingness of patients to manage their own and family members’ health and care. The second is that patient engagement refers to the culture of the health care organization that prioritizes and supports patient engagement. The third is that patient engagement refers to the active collaboration between patients and providers to design, manage and achieve positive health outcomes.

 

  1. The knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness of patients to manage their own and family members’ health and care.

 

This is huge in patient engagement. If the patient is not engaged in their care then the patient will likely not have good outcomes. In physical therapy if a patient is not doing their home program and only sees the therapist 1-3 times a week their progress will be slower than the patient that is compliant with their home program.  If you are able to get your patient to “buy in” to what you are saying and if the patient sees themselves as an active participant in their own care than they will have a better outcome. Family members are important in this as well because in some cases it is the family member that is taking care of their loved one so they need to understand what they have to do at home to achieve their goals and have positive outcomes.

 

  1. The culture of the healthcare organization that prioritizes and supports patient engagement.

 

If an organization does not believe in getting patients engaged in their own health care then this is a failure for the organization, the employees and most of all for the patients.  If the organization values patient engagement and patient satisfaction, the patients’ will have better outcomes.  The organization that values patient engagement is the organization that invests in equipment and tools to improve patient care. This type of organization also invests in the best people to work for their company.  The patients’ first mentality is the only one that truly drives patient engagement and patient outcomes.  If you treat your patient like they are your family member or your loved one and you want them to get the best possible care you need to understand what will drive that person to be successful and own their care.

 

  1. The collaboration between patients and providers in order to achieve positive health outcomes.

 

It is paramount for the patient to take an active part in their healthcare. The healthcare provider needs to teach the patient about their condition and how to manage their condition in a way that the patient can understand in order to improve follow through at home. The patient may not understand medical language so the provider needs to educate the patient in a way that will make sense to them. The patient and provider need to work as a team in order for the patient to achieve maximum outcomes.

 

While patient engagement means something different to everyone, the goal is the same whether you are a healthcare executive, doctor, nurse, patient, or family member. The goal of developing positive relationships in healthcare is to get the best outcomes possible. When patients are given the tools to take control of their health and have strong relationships with clinicians working in organizations that foster patient engagement, patient receive treatment that is exponentially better in a more cost effective way.