- Throughout the healthcare sector, a major aspect of improving medical services and reforming the industry as a whole has been the pursuit of patient engagement. According to a study published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine, the term patient engagement seems to hold multiple definitions and understanding across various medical facilities.
The study was conducted to determine what patient engagement means to different stakeholders and groups across a variety of medical care settings. Using both focus groups and interviews, the researchers found the definitions around patient engagement to lack any consistent guidelines or terminology. While the definitions may be complex, the need for finding “common language” when it comes to patient engagement is imperative, the researchers wrote. It’s the only way to successfully attest to meaningful use requirements and objectives related to better engaging patients with their health.
“Although the term ‘patient engagement’ is commonly used in discussion about meaningful patient involvement in health care initiatives, the term was rarely found in the literature. Upon reviewing the literature and with participants providing definitions, it became evident that there is a lack of common language, terms, and definitions used for ‘patient engagement’ and also for the description or interpretation of this term by stakeholders,” the researchers wrote in their report.
“While the terms used to describe patient engagement are unclear and used differently in the literature, they have also been found to be interpreted and understood differently by patients, providers, and administrative leaders. This leads to ambiguity and confusion,” the researchers continued. “The lack of common language, and multifaceted terms and definitions, suggest that there is need for clarity and communication when referring to patient engagement.”
Over time, the definition of patient engagement may become more clarified. As the months move on, however, it is still necessary for healthcare providers to meet the patient engagement objectives under meaningful use requirements. Along with incorporating patient portals, mobile health applications and devices can play a significant role in boosting patient engagement as well.
As previously reported by mHealthIntelligence.com, providers find mobile health tools useful in managing patients with chronic diseases. Additionally, a survey from the CommonWealth Fund described how mobile health strategies can be used to engage patients from underserved communities to improve communication and the physician-patient relationship.
For example, text messages with health-related instructions and appointment reminders can lead to better health and wellness within many communities around the country. Additionally, many patients could use their smartphones or other mobile devices to access their patient portal and view any pertinent healthcare information including lab results and medical history.
However, healthcare professionals will need to work toward encouraging their patients to utilize the portal on a regular basis. Results from a consumer survey issued in 2013 show that less than half of patients offered the ability to view their information electronically took advantage of the opportunity.
As healthcare reforms continue to shape the future of the medical industry, mobile health strategies will likely play an important role in forming patient engagement solutions.