Patient engagement can be explained as patients working together with healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, clinicians etc to improve their health. In patient engagement, the patients are involved in the process and take a more active role in their treatment. When there is active engagement of a patient it contributed to improved health outcomes. Most patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process as the more involved they are the better the outcome. Using information technology and data can further help doctors in increasing patient engagement.
Patient engagement and efforts to improve it is most effective when it’s driven by the patient care team. A patient care team usually contains individuals who are patient-facing every day. A patient care team is a group of physicians and caregivers from diverse fields who communicate with each other regularly about the care of a group of patients who are receiving care from them under a patient care management program.
Patient Care Management
A Patient care team is usually required in patient care management and is vital in patient engagement especially for chronic diseases or for long stay patients. For a group of healthcare practitioners to constitute a patient care team, they would have to have explicitly defined roles and meet regularly about patient care. These teams usually cross practice and organizational boundaries for example general surgery practitioners and neurosurgery. This cross-disciplinary care teams sometimes could experience communication nightmares, power struggle or disagreement in decision making this is why quality data and data management is essential for proper patient engagement.
Also in a patient care team, there are nonmedical staff members that perform supplementary functions. Some of these functions are paperwork, logistics, giving injections, taking patient blood pressure, lab work, nursing care, MRI scans, patient counseling, etc. These functions could be performed by doctors but that would be inefficient as it takes away time from performing the other complex functions that require a high skill level and most of all they would take away from patient-facing time which is important for patient engagement.
As mentioned earlier quality data and data management is essential for patient engagement and here’s how and why.
Data Is What Will Make the Difference
Data drives efficiencies by letting care teams know which patients are high-risk or in need of preventive or follow-up care. It also enables physicians to engage patients who need it the most all while gaining efficiency in their practice. When doctors have access to comprehensive and reliable data it gives that extra boost needed to get patients involved and engaged in their treatment process. Just having the data and collecting more is not enough, proper analysis and application are needed for it to be effective. Managing populations of patients are increasingly becoming more and more essential to the viability of the healthcare system and for this reason, impure data will have drastic consequences. There has to be continuity in data especially during aggregation as this will enable doctors, physicians and their care teams manage a large population of patients effectively.
Physicians typically want to engage patients, but they don’t have much time to do so. According to a RAND study from 2013, 80 percent of doctors said they were dissatisfied with electronic health records because of increased documentation time and decreased patient engagement time. If a doctor has so much paperwork they know they need to attend to, they can't spend as much time as they will like talking to patients or engaging them in other ways. This is another reason why clinical environments need to operate as efficiently as possible. Patient portals sometimes present as a burden to physicians as it appears to introduce more work. Increased patient engagement should not be a problem that management just throw theoretical solutions at because that could achieve the opposite effect. The doctors need to be involved in the process and they can come up with more viable solutions and effective ways to increase patient engagement because they are patient-facing and more familiar with the actual practicality of patient engagement.
Good data can help solve the problem of patient engagement, physician engagement, and also drive a culture of quality. A culture of quality improvement goes a long way toward motivating physicians to engage their patients. All physicians want to deliver quality care to their patients and they know that patient engagement will help make this happen. A data-driven environment keeps that quality on the physician’s mind at all times having easy and quick access to good, valid, and accurate data serves as motivation to physicians. The availability of good data means doctors and nurses can put all their attention and focus on providing care. It also drives evidence-based decision making and enables process and workflow improvement. It allows physicians to concentrate on the thing that matters most which are improving lives.