by Mary Helen Yarborough
The next trend in improving health care and outcomes could depend on
how well medical providers engage their patients to better understand
their conditions and what is required of them.
The new patient engagement initiative announced in May by the
GetWellNetwork will include input by MUSC’s executive medical
director, Patrick Cawley, M.D., and other top health care industry
leaders across the country who will develop models of best practices
and new tools through the Institute for Interactive Patient Care
Through IIPC, researchers work to establish the efficacy of patient
engagement on advancing hospital quality, safety, service and financial
outcomes, as well as patient outcomes; and to utilize these findings to
establish and promote patient engagement policy, standards and
requirements for health care providers.
The goal is to impress upon patients the importance of their roles in
improving their health. On a national level, the concept is to enhance
the overall quality, service and cost performance outcomes in American
“This is built on the premise that ‘I’m not just going to take care of
you, but you are going to take care of yourself,’” said Cawley.
“Patient engagement is more than education, as it teaches the patient
to participate and be responsible for their care.”
For example, Cawley said for a patient may be deemed a fall risk due to
medication, “we would explain to the patient that he is a fall risk
because, for example, he may be taking pain medication, which could
make a person light-headed. “If the patient recognizes the issues
before they get worse, he will experience fewer injuries and get
better quickly. He also would avoid un-necessary repeat visits to
Effective patient engagement works best with a team approach, rather
than relying on a single nurse or physician. Nurses, physician’s
assistants, dietitians, physical therapists, and other clinical staff
could play a significant role in helping a patient become his own best
advocate and caregiver.
“We’ve always done a better job of this in pediatric care than we have
on the adult side,” Cawley said. “That’s because we have always engaged
the parents in explaining about their child’s health and condition, and
parents listen when we tell them what they are responsible for in
caring for the health of the child. For some reason, we’ve failed in
engaging adult patients as effectively.”
Research by member institutions including MUHA will use
GetWellNetwork’s PatientLife System as the primary patient engagement
tool to measure the impact of patient engagement. This emerging
inpatient care delivery model, known as Interactive Patient Care, uses
bedside technology and is proactive in engaging patients and their
families in their care process.
Findings and developments by IIPC could become important to improving
the economic health of the health care industry. “Patient engagement is
the next wave of the future of patient care. The very best
hospitals will be able to show that they effectively engage the
patient,” Cawley added.
The IIPC board, which met in the spring, will meet again in November to
identify models to use for patient engagement surveys. These models
would focus on diseases and/or conditions that result in the most
return visits to the hospital, such as congestive heart failure or
For additional information, visit http://www.getwellnetwork.com.
Friday, June 19, 2009