“Patient Engagement” is one of the health (and often tech) industries hottest buzzwords of 2015, yet no one seems to have locked down exactly what constitutes true patient engagement.
Organizations know that patients need to be empowered; they know that clinicians need to improve the quality of care that they deliver, yet they are lost as to exactly what that entails, and are then in danger of using “patient engagement” as a ubiquitous term to ‘prove’ they deliver quality care.
A recent press release from newswise.com details how the University of Pittsburgh Medicine Center (UPMC) has developed a six-step program ‘designed to break down organizational silos and barriers to achieve ideal patient care experiences.’
The program involves shadowing patients through all of their different care events. This includes having clinicians meet the patient as they arrive in the parking garage, recognizing that a care experience transcends walls and offices and that to really understand what the patient is going through, clinicians must identify and establish connections with the care recipient at all points of their care experience.
The thing about this program isn’t that it isn’t patient-centered care; it’s that it isn’t realistic for long-term engagement – nor is it scalable to other, less-specialized clinical settings. Staffing, budget, and total literal size of the location are all barriers to this type of patient engagement strategy.
“Through shadowing, we gain an enlightened perspective that reveals the entire health care experience rather than just the process. Shadowing leads to empathy, which leads to insight, and provides an emotional connection not possible by analyzing data,” says Pamela Greenhouse, MBA, Executive Director.
It’s an accurate statement until the last part, ‘not possible by analyzing data.’ Capturing data at the point-of-care and analyzing it through EHR systems or a secure cloud portal has proven to demonstrate measurable outcomes, improved quality care, and best of all, a true patient-centered experience. Data tracking is a cost efficient means of checking compliance and adjusting care plans that need improving.
The benefits of using technology to capture this data is that it records information constantly and consistently – not just from the parking garage to the waiting room and back again. Home, work, clinical visits, ER visits, family time; it is always available. Furthermore, information from multiple patients can be viewed and analyzed remotely by a single clinician or care provider. This would not be possible with the shadowing system, given that it is a one-on-one setting and then data is later analyzed by a separate person.
The UPMC is on to something special and has been a leader in quality care for close to two decades – we hugely respect their commitment to innovation in patient engagement. We encourage more organizations to take their own patient engagement and quality of care to the next level, but for most, technology is a more viable and appropriate means of doing so.