Patient Engagement: In it for the Long Haul

By Mary Butler

Marc Perlman, global vice president, healthcare and life sciences at Oracle, recalls being “blown away” by the Patient Engagement Framework. The framework was developed after the National eHealth Collaborative merged with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation to create the Center for Patient and Family Centered Care (CPFCC).

The framework, according to CPFCC, “is a model created to guide healthcare organizations in developing and strengthening their patient engagement strategies through the use of eHealth tools and resources.” But Perlman, who has spent years working on patient engagement initiatives, was impressed that the framework, within one or two pages, is able to offer providers guidelines that truly help them get patients involved in their own care.

“When I looked at the framework for the first time I said ‘this says it all.’ Yes, it’s a high-level framework, but it really does help us to focus on how to look at it,” Perlman says.

The framework’s objectives are aligned with those of the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program, the federal initiative that rewards providers who engage patients via its, “view, download, and transmit” phases. After Perlman saw a draft of the framework, he contacted the members of the committee that formulated it and asked to be involved. He is now a member of the HIMSS Center for Patient and Family Centered Care.

The framework includes five dynamics, according to Perlman. They are “Inform Me,” which is aligned with “emerging meaningful use” awareness; “Engage Me,” which is aligned with meaningful use stage 1; “Empower Me,” which aligns with meaningful use stage 2; “Partner with Me,” which is aligned with stage 3 of meaningful use; and “Support My e-Community,” which is aligned with meaningful use stage 4+. Click here to download the framework.

Perlman says both providers and vendors would do well to take a close look at the framework to determine what capabilities they should be providing for clients and patients.

However, Perlman notes, “the burden is going to be on the provider, and getting the patient to take care of themselves and care. And it’s all good—it’s the way we’re evolving the healthcare system,” he adds.

The Future of Patient Engagement

Federal healthcare regulators have taken a soft stance on personal fitness tracking devices and other mobile health tools. Unchecked growth of these devices will only increase their popularity.

I would tell you is that as long as there are interoperable standards and trustworthiness in the data, and trust in the framework, people have to decide what they’re comfortable with,” Perlman said. “We should let the industry focus on standards and outcomes of what we want to accomplish and let the industry take care of itself.”

Perlman, who’s in his 50s, is an active user of such tools, including a Jawbone activity tracker.

“You can put all my data to my doctor, to the cloud, wherever it had to go to help me be healthier,” Perlman says. “In other words, as long as you’re not going to discriminate against me,” Perlman says, he doesn’t mind that his health data is stored in place like the cloud. “But we have to make sure privacy is there and make sure [the data generated] is used for the right purposes.”

Perlman says patient engagement must be treated as a long-term initiative, “For the healthcare of the future to be successful, you’ve got to look at a health system without walls, patients who are engaged in their care. We’re going to continue to look at new forms of technology that will support that system.”

One such long-term initiative is the formation of state and regional health information exchanges (HIEs). Although Perlman said he couldn’t predict what HIEs would look like in 5 or 10 years, he thinks that within “five to 20 years, however we accomplish it, there will be free-flowing rivers of data being transmitted throughout the US. We will have accomplished the goal of interoperability and using healthcare resources that longitudinally we haven’t had that capability before,” Perlman says.

Original source:
Butler, Mary. "Patient Engagement: In it for the Long Haul" (Journal of AHIMA website), September 01, 2014.