Do Hospitals Think About Patient Engagement?

Posted on August 2, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This week’s #HITsm chat revolves around the subjects of patient engagement and patient experience. For those not familiar with the #HITsm chat, you can follow the #HITsm hashtag on Twitter and every Friday at Noon ET various people from healthcare IT get together to discuss 4-5 questions. For example, here are the questions for this week:

T1: How would you define patient engagement vs patient experience? Does the difference matter?
T2: Is improving patient engagement a prerequisite to improving patient experience?
T3: What #HealthIT solutions have you seen that are effective at improving patient engagement? Which are not?
T4: Should patient engagement technologies be mandatory and should there be penalties for not adopting them?
T5: What #HealthIT solutions do you predict will be the most effective at improving patient experience? mHealth? Big Data? Quantified Self?

I took a look at the topics today and decided to look at many of these questions from a hospital perspective. I found this to be a real challenge, because I really don’t think that most hospitals think about patient engagement. They certainly have things they do that engage patients, but most hospitals have a goal to stop engaging with patients.

There are a whole series of projects that hospitals are taking on now that engage the patient, but that’s not how I think most hospital administrators think. I’ve never heard a hospital CIO say, “We need to do more patient engagement.” Instead, they think about ways to lower readmissions. They think about ways to decrease length of stay. They think about ways to improve how quickly they collect payments.

The interesting thing is that some of these goals can be achieved through patient engagement. However, if we use that terminology I think that most hospital execs will turn off the discussion. I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong that hospital executives think this way, but the worst thing that can happen is for hospital executives to turn off the discussion.

I think a similar thing can often happen with the idea of patient experience. Most hospitals are just trying to keep their heads above water, so trying to take on patient experience is a real challenge. However, I’ve heard some amazing discussions from hospitals in competitive regions really taking patient experience to the next level. In many ways, their discussion of patient experience feels more like what you’d hear at a five star hotel than a hospital.

What are your thoughts when it comes to patient engagement and patient experience from a hospital perspective?