Results from studies show that active patient engagement in the health care decision-making process leads to better health outcomes and lower costs. However, patients cannot easily obtain information about their medical conditions and services due to the complexity of modern health care systems. As a result, private and public health care organizations are finding strategies to better educate their patients about their conditions and making them part of the decision process.
What is Patient Engagement?
Before discussing the broader concept of “Patient Engagement”, it is important to understand what is “Patient Activation”. Patient Activation refers to patients’ skill, knowledge, ability, and willingness to their own health and care. Many of the strategies that will be discussed in this blog post involve strengthening patients’ knowledge about their conditions and the ability to manage their health.
Patient engagement is when patients are involved in their health care decision-making process. The International Society For Pharmacoeconomics Outcomes Research defined the term “Patient Engagement” as follows:
“The process of building the capacity of patients, families, carers, as well as health care providers, to facilitate and support the active involvement of patients in their care, to enhance safety, quality, and people-centeredness of health care service delivery.”
Despite nuanced definitions for patient engagement, all definitions share the common theme of strengthening the understanding of the roles of all parties involved in the health care ecosystem. For example, health care providers in utilizing tools to help patients become more active in taking care of their health.
The Benefits of Strong Patient Engagement
According to HIMSS, greater patient engagement in health care leads to improved health outcomes. Patients who are more actively engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.
How to Improve Patient Engagement
Kristin Carman of the American Institutes for Research created a framework that provides a better understanding of patient engagement on three levels.
The first level is direct patient care. Patients receive information about their medical conditions or get answers to their questions about preferences for treatment.
The second level of engagement is organizational design and governance. Health care organizations would seek patient input to ensure responsiveness to patients’ needs.
The third level involves policymaking which involves patients taking a part in making policies and decisions in regards to health care. Health care providers should make an effort to improve on all three levels.
How can HealthTerm Help?
Shared decision making is a strategy consistent with the first level of direct patient care. Health care providers and patients should consider all facets surrounding a patient’s diagnosis before deciding on a treatment plan. HealthTerm is a terminology solution that can be integrated into existing platforms to manage all clinical code systems. HealthTerm helps to make health information and data more easily accessible for health care providers and patients. Shared decision making then becomes easier once both parties have the necessary information.