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Patient Engagement: A defining moment

March 2, 2014

This week on March 5, I’m delighted to have long-standing #hcsmca member and co-founder of #hcldr chat Colin Hung lead a discussion on patient engagement. I’ll let Colin explain.

By Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung)

Colin Hung headshot

Colin Hung

Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2014 annual HIMSS conference in Orlando Florida. Every year, I’m amazed and inspired by all the innovative people, products and projects that are presented or on display. This year was no exception.

One of the trending topics this year at HIMSS14 was patient engagement. For me this was particularly exciting. For years many of us on social media, especially those of us who participate on #hcsmca and other chats, have been advocating for more patient involvement in healthcare. Together we have helped to push the industry towards true patient-centred care and truly engaged patients.

In 2012 Leonard Kish (@leonardkish), a well-respected Healthcare IT consultant, wrote an amazing blog post, The Blockbuster Drug of the Century: An Engaged Patient, that showed how patient engagement could be the “blockbuster drug” of the year. In his post, Kish provides very compelling statistics:

  • 19.74% reduction in hospital admissions
  • 25.31% reduction in bed days of care
  • 86% patient satisfaction
  • $1,600 average cost per patient per year, compared to $13,121 for primary care and $77,745 for nursing home care
  • 20% to 57% reduction in the need to be treated for the chronic diseases studied, including diabetes, COPD, heart failure, PTSD, and depression

As I was touring the HIMSS14 exhibit hall, I was reminded constantly of Kish’s post. Almost every vendor had some form of patient engagement technology. Everything from patient portals to secure communications to personal fitness monitoring were prominently displayed.

HIMSS14 Conference Hall

photo credit: Colin Hung

But by time I watched my 20th demonstration of a “patient engagement platform” (aka a portal where you can see your healthcare information in a raw, untranslated, non-understandable format) I began to wonder about the definition of patient engagement and whether or not it would be worthwhile for the healthcare IT industry to have a common definition. It’s my belief that armed without a standardized definition or widely accepted market norm, we’ll continue to see poorly conceived engagement technologies that do little more than throw patient data onto a screen.

Pat Rich (@cmaer) wrote an excellent Day 1 summary of #HIMSS14,  The patient has no clothes, where he commented about how challenging patient engagement will be to operationalize:

“…while the majority of patients will discover errors in their own records when they evaluate them, there are few mechanisms or resources in place for doctors’ offices to correct those records … and many physicians are unprepared for the impact truly engaged patients will have on their workflow.”

I believe that almost everyone would agree that becoming more involved and engaged in your own health and healthcare is a good thing. But what does being an engaged patient really mean? Is it possible to come up with a single definition that we can all agree to? I thought it would be interesting to see what the #hcsmca community thinks about patient engagement – and how we’d define it. Join us Wednesday March 5 at 1:00pm ET (GMT-5) as we chat about the following topics:

  • T1: How would you define patient engagement? What does an engaged patient look like?
  • T2: What can providers or the government do to encourage patients to become more engaged?
  • T3: What technology can help patients be more engaged in healthcare? Does social medial play a role?

Read the March 5 #hcsmca transcript.

“The Blockbuster Drug of the Century: An Engaged Patient”, Leonard Kish, HL7 Standards, August 28 2012, accessed March 1, 2014
“Patient Engagement: Blockbuster Drug or Snake Oil?”, Dan Munro, Forbes, August 17 2013, accessed March 1, 2014
“Improving Patient Engagement Equal Parts Technology, Empathy”, Brian Eastwood, CIO Magazine, October 14 2013, accessed March 1, 2014
“Patient Engagement: On Metrics and Meaning”, Leslie Kernisan, The Health Care Blog, September 12, 2013, accessed March 1, 2014
“Survey: Patient engagement important but loosely defined”, Darcy Lewis, Fierce Healthcare, March 20 2012,, accessed March 1, 2014
One Comment leave one →
  1. March 3, 2014 12:06 pm

    Great topic, Colin. Always interesting to hear and learn the various perceptions and interpretations of that single word: Engagement. I look forward to the chat.


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