Why is engaging patients more important now than ever?

If we were to ask you what medication or treatment has recently been referred to as:

  • “The blockbuster drug of the century”

  • “The holy grail of healthcare”

  • “The evolution of this will be what shape the future of healthcare”

  • “No other intervention will have as much of an impact on improving quality of care and reducing healthcare costs”

What would come to your mind? Is it a new cancer treatment that has undergone millions of dollars in research? Or perhaps a new surgical technique with the promise of completely eliminating pain and disability? Or are we at the cusp of a treatment that heals diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and heart disease with 5 simple steps?

 Two words: PATIENT ENGAGEMENT

The retail business world has placed a heavy emphasis on consumer engagement for years. Their marketing teams have spent millions of dollars and years of research in strengthening their brand, engaging customers, and creating effective relationships in hopes of obtaining loyalty and improving their outcomes. Over the last few years, the healthcare world has been taking some lessons from the business world: in order to be successful in a growing, competitive marketplace with increased regulations and declining reimbursements, healthcare providers have seen a shift in its “customers” (patients) becoming shoppers of services. This macro trend will only become more prevalent as patients are struck with high deductible plans and now must use their own money set aside in health savings accounts (HSAs). Healthcare providers need to provide patients with more information, access, accountability, and support faster than ever. Healthcare is now in the customer service arena. Doctors and healthcare facilities who don’t adapt will be left behind.

So, how important is “patient engagement”?

  1. Recent studies have shown that simple patient engagement may play a significant role in improving population health, lower healthcare costs, and improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. (1-3)

  2. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has unveiled a “playbook” for patient engagement. (4)

  3. Our own family and friends have all faced and overcome various illnesses/injuries and have wished that their provider and his/her team would have provided them more information, guidance, encouragement, and accountability during their treatment periods.

Over the next few blogs, we will discuss the goals of engaging patients (specifically through technology), the obstacles in implementation and effectiveness, and how this all gets tied to their overall outcomes!

Kevin Campbell