By Kate Berry
In July of 2012, National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) convened a meeting of the Consumer Consortium on eHealth. The Consortium was created in early 2011 and has since developed into a diverse group of over 300 individuals and organizations, united in the common goal to use health IT to engage patients in their care. During the 2012 Consumer Engagement Summit, it became clear that something had changed in the way people were talking about patient engagement. In 2011, there had been a persistent question: “Why patient engagement?” By this past summer, the questions were: “How do we do it?” and “Where do we start?”
It was with that zeal and enthusiasm that NeHC, led by Board member and Senior Vice President for Policy at Healthwise Leslie Kelly Hall, embarked on an effort to help organizations identify that starting point and give them a finish line to strive toward. This year NeHC, with the participation and contribution of over 150 collaborators, pointed out the path to the finish line with the Patient Engagement Framework.
The Framework provides a guide for healthcare organizations to think about patient engagement using eHealth tools and resources. It encompasses five phases of development to strengthen organizations’ patient engagement strategies: Inform Me, Engage Me, Empower Me, Partner With Me, and Support My e-Community. The characteristics of some of these phases include information and way finding, e-tools, patient-specific education, and the build-up to patient access to records, patient generated data, interoperable records, collaborative care, and community support.
The progression and examples of health IT tools and resources featured in the Framework are based on many successful patient engagement strategies. The process began with a look at some of the 100 Most Wired Hospitals and a focus on heavy hitters like Kaiser Permanente and Beth Israel Deaconess. We also drew from some lesser-known healthcare organizations that are quietly doing some amazing things in patient engagement like Bellin Health in Wisconsin, best known for their EHR rollout plan named for patient “Betty.”
The goal of the Framework progression is to allow organizations to reach for that low-hanging patient engagement fruit before moving on to the higher branches that hold things like patient portals and shared wellness planning. As Leslie Kelly Hall said on a recent webinar, “There was a time when Kaiser [Permanente] stopped talking about engagement in terms of the number of patients using their secure email system and started talking about the number of heart attacks and hospital readmissions they were preventing as a result. That is where we want the Framework to be able to take followers.”
The Patient Engagement Framework was officially launched on November 19. For the launch webinar, NeHC hosted Leslie Kelly Hall along with Jeff Donnell of NoMoreClipboard and Eva Powell from the National Partnership for Women and Families. Both organizations had served as examples for the Framework, demonstrating how health IT can be successfully leveraged to engage patients. NoMoreClipboard has given us a more intuitive patient portal and the National Partnership reminds us of the importance of the patient voice in healthcare and health IT implementation.
Shortly thereafter, on November 27, NeHC released the Consumer eHealth Readiness Tool (CeRT), a survey assessment and business intelligence vehicle designed to bring the Framework to life and give healthcare organizations an unbiased, real-time measure of their progress in engaging patients through health IT. Mapped to the five dimensions of the Framework and expanded to include measures of technology infrastructure and organizational culture, the CeRT is a support service that assesses an organization’s capabilities, current progress and potential for improvement in utilizing health IT as a vehicle for patient engagement. It includes access to a comprehensive resource library designed to help guide improvement efforts. The CeRT is available for an annual subscription fee that is tiered based on organization type and size. For more information, visit www.nationalehealth.org/cert.
The industry is beginning to embrace the Patient Engagement Framework and there is significant interest in the CeRT. NeHC has high hopes for the Framework and CeRT to become the industry standard for improving patient engagement by leveraging health IT. Despite the myriad technologies and rapidly changing trends in health IT, these NeHC tools can serve as a compass and point the way forward for many providers who would like to make progress in this direction but may not know where to start. Patient engagement is critical to improving quality, containing costs, and achieving better outcomes, especially in the newly emerging environments of accountable care. National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari called patient engagement “the blockbuster drug of the century” in a recent speech. At NeHC, we think the Patient Engagement Framework and the Consumer eHealth Readiness Tool can help the industry accelerate progress toward that blockbuster.
To learn more, join us in promoting the Framework and CeRT, or to give us feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org.