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Patient Engagement Initiatives Driving Healthcare Trends

- Patient engagement initiatives continue to be major drivers of healthcare reform across the country. From mobile health apps and telehealth technology to patient portals and mobile devices, the medical field is poised to improve the quality of healthcare services, reduce costs, and boost patient health outcomes. Hospitals and clinics will likely use patient engagement initiatives to reach these goals.

Patient Portal Engagement

One example of boosting patient engagement comes from Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia where using Vox Telehealth’s web-based program helped improve health outcomes among surgical patients, according to a company press release.

The program was started 30 days before surgery and lasted for two to three months after the operation. The Virginia-based hospital used these patient engagement initiatives as a way to remind patients of follow-up care and appointments as well as offer educational resources and a customizable alert system.

“The benefit of VOX’s program is that it takes the whole process into account—from pre-op to the hospital process to post-op,” Dr. Matthew A. Dobzyniak, of St. Mary’s Hospital, stated in the press release. “It creates a better medical state for the patient before surgery, leads to shorter hospital stays, and a quicker recovery. We agree with the fundamental and philosophical structure of the program, and the results speak to its efficacy.”

The results from the web-based patient engagement program show that the majority of patients were discharged directly to home, 91 percent of patients had high satisfaction ratings, 55 percent were satisfied with their hospital and doctor, 91 percent stated the program helped teach them what to expect in surgery, and no patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.

Other major patient engagement initiatives taking place across the healthcare spectrum involve the implementation of patient portals, which allow consumers to access their personal health records and message their doctors securely. EHRIntelligence.com reported that these portals drive patient engagement and current healthcare reforms the federal government has initiated through its meaningful use incentive programs.

However, since the everyday consumer only visits their primary care doctor yearly or less, these portals may not be the most effective means for engaging patients with their health and wellness on a regular basis.

“Despite the success of the implementation of portals across the United States, our readmission rates into our hospitals is remaining relatively consistent,” Marcia Cheadle, RN, Senior Director of Clinical Applications at Inland Northwest Health Services, told EHRIntelligence.com. “We have not reduced the high cost of readmissions into the healthcare setting.”

Even if some patient engagement initiatives are not making as much of an impact on enhancing outcomes, the trend behind patient engagement is still spreading throughout the healthcare industry. The Puget Sound Business Journal described how certain trends like the implementation of mobile and cloud-based solutions along with value-based reimbursement tie into the adoption of patient engagement initiatives.

The publication details how patient engagement initiatives could lower overall healthcare costs as well as improve outcomes among patients with chronic medical conditions like diabetes. For example, engaged patients with diabetes will track their blood sugars regularly and could make an appointment with their primary care physician before symptoms worsen, thereby preventing a more serious incidence.

“So what does patient engagement mean? It means that patients are motivated in their health and have the tools to improve their well-being,” the publication clarified. “It means that patients comply with their provider’s care plan, and the provider knows about it. It means patients have more ways to track and measure their chronic conditions. It means that patients are active players in their health, versus passive recipients of treatment.”

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