News Feature | October 21, 2013

Patient Engagement Or Patient Empowerment

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HTO Patient Engagement

What is the difference and which one will help providers meet Meaningful Use requirements?

Stage Two Meaningful Use requires providers engage patients in their own healthcare through portals. According to Blair Butterfield, North American President of VitalHealth Software, before MU the focus was on patient empowerment.

“The whole pendulum has shifted away from the early years of PHRs, which was all about what I would call patient empowerment - putting the data in the hands of that patient and giving them control of their destiny and their selective sharing of data with whom they want to see it,” Butterfield told EHRIntelligence. “It shifted from that to what I would say now is patient engagement. That’s really the buzz word that everybody uses.”

The move from empowerment to engagement means that providers are no longer giving patients their information and allowing them to control the outcome, but rather providers are now actively working to engage patients in their healthcare. The focus has gone from a patient-driven process to a provider-driven one.

“Engagement implies that someone is engaging them and in this case it’s providers. It’s really still a provider-driven process; it’s not really a patient-driven process. The patient is a participant, but they are no longer viewed as really the owner and driver of the process. That’s for a specific reason,” explains Butterfield.

“Many organizations that have experimented with PHRs and so on,” he continues, “have realized that patients left to their own devices typically don’t choose to empower themselves unless there are certain subsets like the chronically ill that do because they’re very active in their care but the other population doesn’t.”

To get patients engaged and meet MU requirements, providers can’t rely on empowerment to do the job. Engaging patients is an integral part of healthcare reform and making information accessible for patients is the key to meeting engagement requirements.

“The next level of patient engagement is going to be able to seamlessly integrate and give the patient access to the data they are bringing with them along with the clinician being able to access that data,” Chris Cashwell told EHRIntelligence.

Cashwell, who recently joined the executive team of Lincor Solutions, a global provider of patient engagement technology, from Nuance Communications, continued, “Then it’s going to be putting the patient front and center at the tip of the spear from the time they’re in the hospital to interacting with technology to understand what their plan is, what they want to contribute to that plan, and what the end result will be if the patient and the clinician and the caregiver all work together.”