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Customer Experience and Design

Letting Patients Get a Word in Edgewise

I have a proposition I would like to make. Today please meet me at the HIMSS Social Media Center at 11:00 a.m. When you arrive, I want to sit you down in isolation, and I want to give you a complete play-by-play of everything that has happened to me since I arrived in New Orleans. This recital promises to be factual, incredibly detailed, and completely out of context. I will continue to talk for at least an hour, and I’d appreciate it if you could just stay silent and engaged.

Sound appealing? Well, then why do we do this to patients and try to call it engagement? Engaging a patient means more than giving access to a medical record, lab results, and schedules. Patient engagement is not such a one wayconversation. Real patient engagement is the path that takes us, as consumers of healthcare, from unknown consumers lost in the barren wilderness of unchecked medical information and into an authentic and loyal relationship with trusted healthcare advisors. For a hospital this means differentiating against other hospitals in this turf war that is now spreading beyond the traditional boundaries of brick and mortar.

What does it mean to go beyond Meaningful Use?32761

The solution to the gap in patient engagement is not complex. It involves creating a conversation, as opposed to an information push, to patients using digital tools. Offering relevant and valid healthcare content is a great start. However, you then need to provide a means by which a patient can then interact with that content and with their healthcare experience. This can take on many forms, such as:

  • Creating social communities for patients with a shared disease state. For example, a social community for diabetes
    patients can be created within the patient portal. These patients can use activity streams and other social features to communicate and gain support from clinicians and others battling the same illness. They can also use the portal to track and comply with their own specific medical protocol in an engaging way. This use case is increasingly important for ACOs looking to manage a disease state within a population. Healthcare gamification can be overlaid on these social communities to provide a fun way for patients to earn social rewards for their healthful efforts.
  • Virtual visits not only create a convenient option for patients, but also offer a new line of service for healthcare organizations that goes beyond the traditional brick and mortar. For example, services provided by a healthcare organization can be offered beyond traditional boundaries and into underserved rural populations.
  • Providing a personalized portal experience where patients can choose the news and information that is most relevant to them. What good is information about healthy pregnancy to a 50-year-old male with prostate cancer? Motivate patients with the information that is most important to them and they will engage with you in return.

These are just a few of the many options healthcare organizations have for engaging patients toward better health, and the reward is that engaged patients do better, and that’s a goal everyone should get behind.

Oh, and please still meet me at the HIMSS Social Media Center at 11:00 a.m. I still am very interested in what you think about patient engagement at our tweet up on the topic. We’ll have beignets, and I’ll try to let you get a word in edgewise.

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Melody Smith Jones

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