How do I “Get” Patient Engagement in 2016?

Other than mom’s unusually long wait after dad proposed, I never saw the words “patient” and “engagement” used together.

My new year’s resolution is to not “fake” that I know patient engagement. What I do know is that my practice has to do it well for value-based medicine. But that’s all I know. What makes patient engagement so vital for long-term success?

Can you help me and my practice “get” patient engagement in 2016?

Fakin’ it!


Dear Fakin’ It:

Ah! “Fake it ‘till you make it,” not really working for you? Usually doesn’t in healthcare. I’m happy to help you “get” patient engagement.

The industry is excited about patient engagement because it improves the provider/patient relationship. A key result: Patients want to take better care of themselves. As they do, they create better clinical outcomes and help reduce costs because they become less of a burden on our healthcare system. Triple Aim stuff. Important stuff.

Why is patient engagement such a big deal?

I just gave you a hint: Triple Aim Stuff! The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) originated the Triple Aim framework to optimize the nation’s health system performance through three dimensions: Improve the quality and satisfaction of the patient experience; improve the health of populations; and reduce the per capita cost of healthcare. You can find a primer here that defines the Triple Aim.

Patient engagement drives it all. That’s why patient engagement is such a big deal!

The secret to explaining patient engagement

“Patient engagement” and “population health” are partner concepts in the industry’s transition to value-based medicine. Use the broader concept of population health to help explain patient engagement to your staff.

For example, I tell my staff patient engagement is the engine that drives population health. And analytics are the fuel for that engine. We need both for effective population health management:

  • Patient engagement comprises effective communication, care coordination, and transitions of care with patients across their spectrum of care and care teams.
  • It’s also getting patients more involved in their own care and becoming more responsible for their own health.
  • Consistent performance of these best practice patient engagement activities can steadily improve the collective clinical outcomes of whole patient populations.
  • The use of analytics helps confirm these clinical outcome improvements (or lack of improvement to indicate care delivery issues).
  • Either way, analytics provides the quantitative data both providers and carriers need to create and sign new shared-risk contracts. It’s all connected.

Patient engagement is the everyday activity of delivering healthcare in a better, coordinated, patient-focused approach. Not just one dimensional “dispensing of care,” but the multi-dimensional involvement of a patient’s extended care teams characterized by high levels of care coordination and team communication.

Ask your staff to nurture a culture of patient engagement. You’ll not only have healthier, more satisfied patients but also a practice that’s positioned for long-term stability and financial success in the transition to value-based medicine.

I’ve “got it.” Now, how do I “do it?”

Here’s the secret: It’s a mindset. And that mindset is patient-focused everything.

It’s a different way of thinking. A cultural shift inside your practice. Everyone in the office asks him or herself the same question, over and over again. “Is what I’m doing now, or, is how I’m doing this, in the best interest of my patient? How will the way I’m doing this improve my patient’s experience with our practice?”

Behavioral change is never easy. Forming a new habit takes time. Getting your staff to embrace the discipline to ask themselves the same patient-focused question(s) prior to each task will take practice.

Growing an office culture of patient engagement is much easier, and more effective for both you and your patients, when you use HIT patient engagement tools. Software that either assists or fully automates a variety of tasks associated with patient engagement – integrated into your electronic health record (EHR) and practice management system.

Follow population health to patient engagement

Remember earlier when I recommended using population health as a platform to explain patient engagement to your staff? It’s also the key to unlocking valuable information on HIT vendor sites and learning about the HIT tools that enable and nurture patient engagement. For example, NextGen Healthcare has population health management listed separately under the “Products/Services” tab on the home page of the company’s website.

When you scroll down that section of the NextGen Healthcare website you’ll see how the company positions patient engagement. They do it in context with other key elements of a comprehensive population health management HIT solution:

Population Health


You can also see where patient engagement fits in the company’s integrated population healthcare management platform, NextGen Care™, in this new eBook.

Stop faking. Because “you’ve got” patient engagement now!

Life is so much easier when you really know what you’re doing in any given situation or set of circumstances. Don’t you think? So take a deep breath. Because now you really know what patient engagement is and why it’s so important. Congratulations! You’ve just fulfilled your 2016 New Year’s resolution!

Your EHR

If you’d like to see a demo of NextGen Care™, the single platform to integrate and automate patient engagement, click here.
Do you know how, and why, patient engagement is central to successful Accountable Care Organizations? Find out here, in the ACO eBook.