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● Meaningful Use

Engaging staff to engage patients

Patient engagement is essential for meaningful use, and studies show it is becoming more defi nitively linked to consumer satisfaction.

by Laura Kreofsky N

ationally, patient engagement is being recog- nized as an increasingly important component of healthcare delivery. Fueling this trend are changing healthcare delivery paradigms, the

proliferation of technology that helps patients connect with their healthcare providers and health information, meaningful- use (MU) objectives focused on engaging consumers, patients and their families in their healthcare, and a growing number of patients and their families who want to be electronically connected to their healthcare providers and information. Most organizations, however, do not have a clear vision of patient engagement and have not established a solid tactical plan to support their patient engagement eff orts, especially when it comes to the use of e-health tools. A recent study by the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) found 53 percent of healthcare organizations rank consumer engagement with health IT as “high” or “very high priority,” but only 8 percent consider their consumer engagement strategies with health IT to be clearly defi ned. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed described their strategies as “evolving toward clarity.”1 For many meaningful-use eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals, the meaningful-use requirements are the foundation of their patient engagement endeavors. In Stage 1 of meaningful use, several objectives are focused on patient engagement, including: • Providing patients with an electronic copy of their health information, upon request;

• Providing patients with an electronic copy of their dis- charge instructions, upon request;

• Sending reminders to patients per patient preference for preventive/follow-up care; and

• Providing clinical summaries for patients for each of- fi ce visit.

T e objectives are small but important steps in moving

providers and patients toward electronic communication. In Stage 2 of meaningful use, patient engagement becomes more prominent and explicit. One of the most widely discussed

12 February 2013

Stage 2 objectives is to provide more than 50 percent of patients with timely online access to their health information, and have more than 5 percent of patients view, download or transmit their health information to a third party. Additionally, EPs must provide patients with the ability to send a secure mes- sage through certifi ed EHR technology to the care provider or team, and more than 5 percent of patients must send a message. Given the industry pushback on these measures in the proposed rule, CMS lowered thresholds in the fi nal Stage 2 rule from 10 to 5 percent. However, CMS also noted they continue to believe EPs and hospitals are in a unique position to strongly infl uence the technologies patients use to improve their own care.2 Indeed, recent market research3 supports CMS’ position, fi nding that among personal health record (PHR) users, 35 percent said a physician recommended its use. Among those not currently using a PHR, many said they would use one if a member of their care team suggested it. With this backdrop, healthcare organizations are pursuing a number of strategies to meet meaningful-use patient-engage- ment objectives. Electronic health records (EHRs) and portals are being enhanced, marketing and communication resources are being engaged to develop materials to better inform con- sumers and patients of e-health tools, and existing forms and policies are being refi ned. For example, one integrated delivery network (IDN) added a statement to printed discharge instruc- tions and after-visit summaries on how patients can access their health information online. Engaging front-line care and service providers can be another important strategy to drive patient engagement. A recent study found “staff attitude” was the main contributor to patients rating their healthcare experience positively. How- ever, it also found that 55 percent of healthcare professionals prefer paper to electronic tools and communication.4 Given this information, healthcare organizations must educate em- ployees on how they can – in a positive manner – help the organization increase electronic communications with and for patients. In-services and training for healthcare information

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com

Laura Kreofsky is principal, Impact Advisors LLC.

For more on Impact Advisors: www.rsleads. com/302ht-205

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