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How healthcare can fix patient engagement

Brian Eastwood | June 18, 2014
The healthcare industry frequently discusses how to use technology to improve patient engagement, but it's just one step in a complex process that, done right, contributes to the much more formative process of patient empowerment.

The next step, patient education, often occurs at the physician's office. Here, firms such as Patient Point aim to replace the paper pamphlets with a more tailored experience, delivered via waiting room TVs, exam room iPads and, yes, secured messages. Digitizing patient education also brings the advantage of analytics, says Patient Point CTO Raj Toleti, as it lets a practice see which methods of engagement and education work best, as well as which topics matter most for that practice's patient population.

Graduating to patient activation from education means giving patients a prominent part in their own care. Since that care increasingly involves technology, patient advocates have long demanded a part in defining how technology is used, especially when it comes to giving patients access to their own health data. Without information, and without a voice, patients are unlikely to flip the switch to "on."

Just flipping the switch doesn't complete the process. Without a light bulb, the room remains dark. Patient empowerment, then, comes only when people are willing to be held accountable for their own health, Goren says. That above all - not payment reform, EHR implementation or incentives for good behavior - will change the U.S. healthcare system.

The Affordable Care Act, Goren says, shifts only a small percentage of the cost equation. "What will change is that citizens will have to improve their own health. We need to give the average citizen the ability the willingness to impact their health."


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