Building an effective and efficient healthcare system in America will require re-focusing on patient engagement, according to Tammy Hawes, CEO and Founder of Virsys12, a Salesforce Consulting and AppExchange Partner focused on healthcare technology transformation. In an article on Forbes.com, Hawes makes the case that unlike most other proposals for fixing our healthcare system, patient engagement will help strengthen relationships and trust between care seekers and care providers, and empower patients to better manage their own health.
This collaborative approach involves clinicians and patients getting to know one another, communicating clearly, and working together toward improved health outcomes. The care model has patients taking responsibility for their health, engaging in activities that help their situations improve, and educating themselves on their conditions and how to live healthier lives. Engaged patients also require engaged providers willing to spend the necessary time with patients to explain health conditions, guide patient-driven treatment, and empower patients to share responsibility for making decisions about their healthcare.
Hawes argues that health systems can improve patient satisfaction and care outcomes by boosting patient engagement. She recommends that providers and patients commit to shared decision making, working together to make decisions about tests and treatment options and ensuring that both are communicating in a way that is mutually understood and effective. Both should stay engaged throughout aftercare, tailoring solutions to meet patients where they are at and address social determinants of health, such as affordable housing scarcity and food insecurity.
Technology also plays a role, ensuring that patients can be kept informed and providers have the ability to track vitals, symptoms, medications, and general activity. The Internet of Things can help providers keep tabs on patients in between visits using tools such as smart inhalers, glucometers, thermometers, and scales.
While technology cannot replace genuine attention and care from providers, re-thinking care models to make sure that patients are informed, involved, and heard and that clinicians have the visibility and tools needed to connect with their patients in and out of the clinic can help both be better connected and invested in positive outcomes. When health systems work to ensure that both patients and providers are equally empowered and invested in a positive outcome, everyone benefits.