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Most Wired: Patient Engagement Initiatives Prove Powerful

By Vera Gruessner

- It seems that one of the key differentiators between 2015’s Most Wired hospitals stems from patient engagement initiatives. With Stage 2 and Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs pushing forward patient engagement initiatives, which were established after the HITECH Act was passed in 2009, many hospitals and medical facilities began developing patient portals to ensure consumers were able to download, view, and transmit their medical information.

Medical Data Security

The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports that patient engagement initiatives and medical data security are the topmost priorities of hospitals around the country, which is based on the 17th annual HealthCare’s Most Wired survey. More than 2,200 hospitals in the US were polled to determine these key findings.

In particular, the survey looked at the optimization of health IT systems, patient portals, and administrative management platforms. Whether it is mobile security purchases or other types of data protection, the healthcare field has been focused on improving health data security across the board. Some top implementations of the year include privacy audit systems, provisioning systems, data loss prevention, single sign-on and identity management, according to AHA.

The results from the survey show that 96 percent of Most Wired hospitals and associations utilize intrusion detection systems and 79 percent perform incidence response operations yearly. Additionally, patient engagement initiatives continue to play a large role in the plans of healthcare institutions.

Most Wired hospitals aim to go beyond Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements and truly get patients engaged with their health outcomes and wellness goals. The survey illustrated that 89 percent of Most Wired institutions offer patients access to a portal via a mobile device like a smart phone or a tablet. Additionally, 60 percent of Most Wired organizations provide “patient-specific education in multiple languages” while 63 percent include self-management applications for monitoring chronic health conditions.

“We commend and congratulate this year’s Most Wired hospitals and their CIOs for improving care delivery and outcomes in our nation’s hospitals through their creative and revolutionary uses of technology,” CHIME CEO and President Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME CHCIO, said in a public statement.  “These Most Wired organizations represent excellence in IT leadership on the frontlines of healthcare transformation.”

The Hospitals & Health Networks 2015 Most Wired survey showed some key interviews with healthcare professionals in which their methods for greater patient participation was outlined. Since Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements called for at least 5 percent of patients to view, download, or transmit their health information among eligible hospitals and providers, many hospitals chose interesting methods and patient engagement initiatives to pursue this objective.

“We had to do some crazy things,” Chief Information Officer of Citizens Memorial Hospital Denni McColm said in an interview. “If you signed up for the portal and sent a secure message, you were entered into a contest to win an iPad or a TV. We had one staff person in particular who would call up patients and say, ‘I saw you were at the doctor’s. I wanted to see how you were doing. Why don’t you get on the portal and let me walk you through it.’ And she would get them signed up.”

The results show that Most Wired hospitals are moving past meaningful use to better engage their patients. For instance, patient-generated data is being integrated into EHR systems among a majority of these institutions. Over the coming years, more hospitals around the country will continue toward conducting patient engagement initiatives and improving the quality of care through new technologies.

“Our mission, our vision, our culture all depend on technology,” Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Lakeland Regional Medical Center Elizabeth Kerns stated in an interview. “Technology is our differentiator. Nearly every business function and clinical process is built to leverage our technology foundation.”

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