Biggest trend from HIMSS 2014

Impressions from HIMSS14

More Than Patient Engagement – The Evolution Toward Patient Activation

Among the many trends emphasized during last week’s massive HIMSS 2014 Annual Meeting, “Patient Engagement” as the cause celebration for EVERYONE in the health information technology space. Well played Ms. Sebelius — message received loud & clear.

We interrupt this blog post with some background context for those who do not spend all of their working lives completely immersed in healthcare minutiae:

Part of the plan to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a carrot and stick approach to encouraging providers and health systems to gradually increase the number of patients who use technology to access their health records. This initiative is called the “Meaningful Use” requirement. In a nutshell, by the end of 2014, 50% of a health system’s patients must be able to access their Electronic Health Information (EHI) and transmit it securely to a third party. Of those who have been discharged from the hospital, 5% must be engaging the provider’s electronic patient portal to access their EHI. Systems that meet the standard are eligible for financial incentives that are baked into the program – that’s the carrot. The stick comes in the form of financial penalties levied against those health systems that do not meet the standards on schedule.

We now return you to your blog post already in progress…

It seemed as if every one of the 1200+ exhibitors at HiMSS, had a “unique and distinctive” solution for conquering the Patient Engagement conundrum. The problem is that every one of their 1200+ definitions was equally unique and distinctive. With no standard definition, the term is rendered meaningless, and will be thrown on the healthcare vernacular scrap-heap just as soon as the next “It” buzz word comes along.

The larger issue however, is that engagement is only the first step in an evolution that ultimately leads to an individual’s active and sustained self-management of their health and wellness. That process can be tracked according to four distinct stages:

1. Engage – Establish a sustainable bi-directional connection between the healthcare provider/system and the patient.

2. Personalize – Seek to understand each patient’s individual values. Foster genuine relationships between the patient and each stakeholder in the continuum.

3. Empower – Provide the tools, resources, incentives and encouragement necessary to maintain the patient’s active participation, moving toward establishing new positive habits.

4. Activate – Patient takes ownership of their health management as the center of of an integrated support system.The Affordable Care Act promises to bring the most radical change to the American healthcare system since Medicare was enacted in 1965. The debate over the merits of the law will continue to rage, but one certainty is inarguable – Health Information Technology will play a central role in this transformation. That fact does not however change the fact that an individual’s health is a deeply personal subject. Assisting people in the evolution from engagement to activation requires a human connection based on a real relationship; and founded on a genuine interest in them as people, not just patients. The technology companies that understand this fact and tailor solutions accordingly, will be the ones we’re still talking about at HIMSS 2020.


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