Apr 12 2017

Collaboration and Communication Tools Spark New Ways to Build Patient Engagement

Facebook-like ER feeds and patient-set agendas are proving useful in upping communication.

A recent survey by CDW pointed out that just 29 percent of people would give their healthcare providers an “A” for their use of technology to engage with patients. But across the country, hospitals and private practices are seeing success in pilot programs and tools that look to enhance their use of portal technology and engage more actively with patients and other physicians.

Putting Care Into the Patient’s Hands

Collaboration is key, or so the saying goes, and a new survey by the Annals of Family Medicine points to this being true in enhancing patient engagement as well. According to a study of 101 patients and 28 clinicians at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., released in March, 74 percent of physicians and 79 percent of patients believe that communication improves when patients set the agenda for their own care.

The study piloted a program in which patients typed their agenda for their visit into the center’s electronic health record system prior to their appointment, while in the waiting room. An overwhelming amount of participants on both sides of the care equation believe this more collaborative approach allowed for a more productive visit.

While the study is small and certainly requires further research, it points to an important possibility in improving patient engagement, enabled by new functionalities of EHR systems that allow patients to participate actively in their own care.

Upping Engagement With a Physician ‘Facebook Feed’

New tools are also coming onto the scene to ease communication. The University of Colorado Hospital system in Aurora, Colo., for example, is looking to social media models to close the loop between patients and physicians. In its emergency department, the hospital tested a real-time social feed of information and messages to patients about their care, MobiHealth News reports.

The filterable feed system, supplied by a company called CareLoop, provides patients with access to information such as test results and explanations of care, while also providing a platform for caregivers and patients to pass messages and ask questions. Approved family members can also access the feed to read up on care recommendations.

The system could also help to streamline care by facilitating patient-physician contact without the need for a face-to-face visit. Moreover, it allows physicians and specialists throughout the system to communicate about certain patients, according to MedCity News.

The pilot is proving to be a success, with 96 percent of patients responding positively to the experience, according to a patient survey CareLoop conducted after the pilot.

“We followed patients through their ER stay, and kept them in the loop on their care in the ER,” Foster Goss, founder of CareLoop, told MobiHealth News. “As an ER physician, I see the patient, I take their history, I put in labs and tests, and maybe go back once or twice to deliver updates. In my busy workflow it’s hard to do one or two touch-points to update that patient, but with CareLoop, including the messages in the system, we could do five to 10 times as many touch-points with patients.”

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