Methods to engage your patients

As we shift to payment and care model based on population health and value-based reimbursements, everyone seems to be tossing around the term “patient engagement.” This vague term has been deemed the golden ticket to improving overall patient health and outcomes. Surveys and studies have validated this point, describing how healthcare groups that place an emphasis on patient engagement show improved patient satisfaction and productivity.1 Furthermore, patients who “engage” with their providers have significantly better clinical outcomes.2 Dr. Farzad Mostashari, former National Coordinator for Health IT for the US Department of Health and Human Services declared, “The age of engaged and empowered patients is upon us, especially with smartphones and ubiquitous access to information changing everything; patients now have the tools at their fingertips."

So, how do we best engage patients? Ultimately, this starts with giving patients the tools they need to understand what makes them sick, how to stay healthy, and what to do if their conditions get worse; while encouraging and empowering them.

  • Patient portals
    • Tools within the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) which gives patients access to their clinical information from any location.
    • Encourage involvement of patients’ families and other healthcare providers -- facilitate patient self-management by motivating patients to care for themselves and by informing patients about their health status
  •  Secure email/messaging
    • Practices must comply with the secure messaging requirements of Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use Program to successfully attest and receive their incentive payment
    • Decreases staff time spent on phone calls, delivering a long list of patient communications (general information, appointment reminders, test results, etc.)
  • Social networks
    • The trust that patients have with their clinicians as well as the broad reach of social media places healthcare professionals in a prime position to drive healthcare related topics on the web.
    • Social networking website use has skyrocketed  from 8% (of all adults online) in 2005, up to 72% of U.S. adults online in 2013.3
  • Mobile devices
    • Patients utilize their smartphones as a round-the-clock resource for quick medical references and continued education.
    • With the increasing use of smartphones, followed by tablets, the demand for mobile health information has increased. 86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone, as do 83% of those ages 30-49.4

However, challenges persist. Earlier in 2016, CDW Healthcare reported that while 70% of providers have observed a promotion in patient engagement, only 57% of patients report the same. That's not all; unfortunately, only 35% of patients report that they noticed their providers engaging them more actively.

We need patients to participate in their own health and wellness because it typically drives better outcomes and lowers costs. What is the bottom line for providers? Len Schlesinger and John Fox said it best: “We will need to reorient their thinking to acknowledge the critical job of the patient, design it thoughtfully into new operational frameworks, and invest in the networked technology required to support it all.”

About StreaMD

StreaMD is the easiest way to increase patient engagement. Designed by doctors, it’s an automated text messaging service embraced by surgeons and patients alike. Messages are diagnosis- and treatment-specific, so patients receive the appropriate information at the most critical time points of their care, without additional work for the physician.


1A Leadership Resource for Patient and Family Engagement Strategies. Health Research & Educational Trust, Chicago: July 2013. Available at

2James, J. “Patient Engagement.” February 2013. Health Affairs/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. New Study Shows 72 Percent of European Online Consumers are Social Health Users - Manhattan Research.

4Smartphone data are based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 10-July 12, 2015;