As IT professionals prepare to convene for the Health Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) annual conference and exhibitiion February 23-27 and the topic of patient engagement takes center stage, guest blogger Jim Rattray offers his thoughts on effective engagement.
Hardwire. Analytics. Evidence. Patterns. Models of care.
These terms all mean something to health care and IT professionals.
They mean nothing to patients.
This vocabulary divide was highlighted in a recent interview with David Muntz, system vice president & CIO at GetWellNetwork, on the HIMSS website (“Ask the Expert: Patient Engagement – The ‘New’ End Game,” December 23, 2013):
Q: Why is Patient Engagement so Critical to the Overall Success of Health Reform?
A: The role of the patient and family has become increasingly important. We can successfully install the new EHRs and associated products, but without true patient engagement, without a new effective partner relationship, we as individuals and as a nation will not get the complete potential value available to us. Patients must become activated. The best way to do that in both the existing and evolving models of care is to use information technology to hardwire processes and to perform analytics which will be crucial to affirming existing evidence as well as discovering patterns that we didn’t see without the new tools.
Muntz’s ideas are right on. And while he’s speaking to IT folks, who understand the terms and syntax, the choice of words excludes patients and families at a time when their role, as Muntz notes, “has become increasingly important.” Let’s deconstruct the last two sentences, which are the most important.
Patients must become activated. The best way to do that in both the existing and evolving models of care is to use information technology to hardwire processes and to perform analytics which will be crucial to affirming existing evidence as well as discovering patterns that we didn’t see without the new tools.
Where Engagement Really Begins
And now present it in a way patients and families can understand: We want patients to become partners in their care. The best way to do that — right now and in the future — is to help them get comfortable with technology and make it an important and easy part of their daily lives. When we do that, together, both patients and providers will be able to see what is truly happening with a patient’s health and take steps to improve it.
Patient engagement starts by talking the same language. We have to speak in terms our patients and their families can understand — and we can accomplish that by dropping the jargon and biz-speak and getting back to plain language that everyone can understand — with no translation required.