management (HIM) and/or nursing staff on specifi c patient engagement workfl ows and policies should be provided as part of MU readiness eff orts. However, educating staff and even patients often only gets organizations part of the way there. For example, an IDN in the Midwest provided its nursing informatics and HIM staff education on the new MU requirements and trained them on the workfl ow for fulfi lling and tracking requests for electronic copies of health information. But, as the HIM director noted, after six months of measuring MU performance, they had not received any requests from patients for their information in an electronic format. Simply put, most patients are not yet accustomed to having their health information – or healthcare providers – available to them through electronic means.
|Healthcare organizations must educate |employees on how they can – in a |positive manner – help the organization |increase electronic communications |with and for patients.
With a year or two of meaningful use under their belts,
many EPs and hospitals are reviewing lessons learned. Many providers now realize training staff to respond to requests is not suffi cient; rather, employees should have a more active role in promoting electronic interactions between patients, their medical information and caregivers. Otherwise, “everybody’s job becomes nobody’s job.” Many healthcare leaders see enhancing staff engagement as a means to patient engagement as essential for sustaining meaningful use. For example, a nurse executive colleague said she foresees conducting in-services for fl oor nurses to increase awareness about the importance of talking with patients and their families about accessing health information online. T is “in-the-moment interaction” is key. When present with the patient, staff can tailor the message based on what they know about the patient demographically and relate it to something specifi c and relevant. For example, a practice medical assistant can remind the patient that the results of today’s lab work will be available online, as well as past results. T us, rather than suggesting the lab patient “call in a few days” or directing a patient to contact the HIM department, frontline staff can use the moment to mention the portal or PHR – and the patient avoids another dissatisfying handoff . As we look toward Stage 2, eligible professionals and hospi- tals must be innovative in communicating with and engaging patients and staff to ensure more challenging e-health measures are achieved and sustained. Some ideas include: • Refi ne scheduling and registration processes so staff ask patients about their use of e-health tools and, if appro- priate, provide information on how to access and use
portals, personal health records (PHR), etc.;
• Send appointment or inpatient visit follow-up emails alerting patients that information about their recent hospitalization or visit is now online, along with infor- mation on how to enroll and use the secure online tools;
• Include coaching on how to access health information online in pre-operative and post-operative phone calls with patient and family members;
• Off er closed-circuit television programming teaching patients how to access health information on the portal and PHR;
• Send point-of-care alerts to physicians, nurses or clerical staff that the patient has created an account but has not viewed any health information;
• Create avatars for use in waiting room kiosks and portal sites so patients have a personal yet virtual introduction to e-health tools;
• Provide patients in waiting areas with iPads so they can establish their accounts while they wait, and have clerical staff or nursing students available to teach them how to view, download and transmit health information; and
• Use patient entertainment systems to provide education and coaching during hospitalization.
Patient engagement is essential for meaningful use, and studies show it is becoming more defi nitively linked to con- sumer satisfaction. In response, healthcare organizations must defi ne a clear vision of patient engagement and use a variety of tactics – from communications and marketing to upgrading and enhancing usability of PHRs and portals to training and engaging clerical, HIM staff and frontline caregivers as allies in promoting patient engagement. Tactics aside, the positive outcomes – i.e., increase in patient satisfaction, potentially improved treatment compliance and meaningful-use incen- tives – will far exceed organizations’ investments in making patient engagement a priority.
1. “Consumer Engagement with Health Information Technol- ogy Summary.” National eHealth Collaborative. http://www.na- tionalehealth.org/consumer-engagement-health-information- technology-survey. Accessed Dec. 5, 2012. 2. Federal Register Volume 77, Issue 205. Oct. 23, 2012. http://
www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-09-04/pdf/2012-21050.pdf. Accessed Dec. 5, 2012. 3. Lynne A. Dunbrack. “Vendor Assessment: When Will
PHR Platforms Gain Consumer Acceptance?” IDC Health Insights. March 2011. http://www.idc-hi.com/getdoc. jsp?containerId=HI227550. Accessed Dec. 5, 2012. 4. “Customer Experience in Healthcare: The Moment of Truth.” PWC Health Research Institute. July 2012. http://www.pwc.com/ us/en/health-industries/publications/health-care-customer- experience.jhtml. Accessed Dec. 5, 2012.
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