The healthcare industry has been buzzing about the concept of Patient Engagement for a little while now, but what exactly is it? Patient engagement is the general idea of involving patients more in their care through various avenues, such as increased communication with doctors, greater access to medical records, or a more user friendly interface for accessing health-related information. Patient engagement can be applied broadly to numerous healthcare sectors and places responsibility on all individuals that are involved in a patient’s well-being- the patient, physician, support staff, friends and family.
Why has Patient Engagement Systems become a new ideal that healthcare facilities, practitioners, and health technologies are collaboratively working to achieve? Greater patient activation, or one’s knowledge, skills and confidence to engage in their own care process, has been demonstrated to lower average costs for care and engage in better preventative health habits. Patients largely want to be a more active participant in their own care, and, with the right accessibility to their own records and other information, will possess the knowledge to make informed decisions.
This recent trend towards increased Patient Engagement is encouraging greater accessibility to information of all kinds- personal medical records, general information about conditions, and easier communication with physicians. In fact, Kaiser Permanante Northwest and eight other healthcare systems have recently signed onto OpenNotes, a program designed to give patients access to doctor’s notes from any location. For patients, this kind of tool is empowering; patients feel more in control of their care, are more likely to follow prescription medication directions, and are more prepared for following doctor visits. Physicians can better communicate with their patients and collaboratively, can develop a more effective treatment plan.
Now, healthcare IT is jumping on the opportunity to develop information sharing programs to facilitate increased Patient Engagement Systems. These programs are intended to engage both physicians and patients, increase compliance by setting up reminders regarding medications, and integrate information from various medical record systems, amongst numerous other features. Not only will such technologies improve understanding, communication, and delivery between physicians and patients, but most importantly, will improve health. The accessibility of personal and public medical information is only growing and providing new methods to increase Patient Engagement in their own care.
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