The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Health IT Playbook

Section 4

Patient Engagement

The ability of individuals to easily and securely access and use their health information electronically serves as one of the cornerstones of nationwide efforts to increase patient and family engagement and advance person-centered health. With access to their electronic health information, individuals can become more involved in their own health and health outcomes. Access to this information can also allow individuals to use innovative applications to better manage their health and their care.

Summary: The Patient Engagement Playbook is a tool for health care providers, practice staff, hospital administrators and others who want to leverage health IT - starting with electronic health record (EHR) patient portals - to engage patients in their health and care.

Check out the Patient Engagement Playbook

Patient engagement can have big benefits for your practice and your patients through better communication, better care, and better outcomes. Research demonstrates that providing patients with access to their clinical information empowers them to increase patient engagement and improve health outcomes. Health information technology (health IT) is a powerful tool to help you get there — so learn how to make it work for you.

Use the Patient Engagement Playbook as your guide. The Playbook is an evolving resource for providers, practice staff, hospital staff, and other innovators: a compilation of tips and best practices we’re collecting from providers and health systems like yours.

Summary: In addition to the Patient Engagement Playbook, we have developed other health IT tools and resources to increase patient education, awareness and involvement, as well as show the value and benefits of patient engagement. These efforts are targeted at both providers/clinicians as well as consumers so that individuals can make use of the health care tools and services available to them.

Using Secure Electronic Messaging Factsheet

Using Secure Electronic Messaging Factsheet

Overview
Factsheet on using secure electronic messaging to support patient and family engagement

Who it’s for
Providers and support staff

When it’s used
When implementing secure messaging to support Stage 2 of Meaningful Use; When communicating benefits to patients or providers or addressing common concerns

Download Using Secure Electronic Messaging Factsheet [PDF - 198 KB]

Data Brief: Electronic Capabilities for Patient Engagement among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2012-2015

Data Brief: Electronic Capabilities for Patient Engagement among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2012-2015

Overview
Research brief on the use of electronic capabilities for patient engagement among U.S non-federal Acute Care Hospitals

Who it’s for
Providers in acute-care hospital settings, health IT professionals

When it’s used
When planning for using patient engagement electronic tools

Download Data Brief: Electronic Capabilities for Patient Engagement among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2012-2015 [PDF - 860 KB]

Data Brief: Trends in Consumer Access and Use of Electronic Health Information

Data Brief: Trends in Consumer Access and Use of Electronic Health Information

Overview
Research brief on trends in consumer access and use of electronic health information, gaps in health information exchange, and recommendations to increase awareness and usage

Who it’s for
Providers, Policy Makers, Healthcare Professionals

When it’s used
When educating about and planning for patient engagement electronic tools

Download Data Brief: Trends in Consumer Access and Use of Electronic Health Information [PDF - 1.2 MB]

Blue Button® PSA Campaign

Overview
Information on the Blue Button® campaign explaining how to get involved by promoting Blue Button in your communities

Who it’s for
Healthcare organizations, healthcare professionals, health IT professionals

When it’s used
When planning for and promoting awareness of consumer engagement in health and healthcare using Blue Button®

Visit Blue Button® PSA Campaign site

How to Optimize Patient Portals for Patient Engagement and Meet Meaningful Use Requirements

How to Optimize Patient Portals for Patient Engagement and Meet Meaningful Use Requirement

Overview
Fact sheet on how to integrate a patient portal effectively into a practice’s operations; helps understand the link between patient portal and meaningful use and provides tips to implement an effective and engaging patient portal

Who it’s for
Providers, health IT implementers

When it’s used
When preparing to meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use objectives in these areas

Download How to Optimize Patient Portals for Patient Engagement and Meet Meaningful Use Requirements [PDF - 114 KB]

Patient Engagement Strategies for Providers

Patient Engagement Strategies for Providers

Overview
This interactive document walks providers through strategies they can employ to engage patients with use of Health IT

Who it’s for
Primary care providers

When it’s used
When educating about effective patient engagement

Download Patient Engagement Strategies for Providers [PDF - 2.5 MB]

Whiteboard on Health Care Data

Overview
Video on creating systems to help people access their health information more easily

Who it’s for
Patients and health care providers

When it’s used
When planning to implement an EHR, and when promoting patient engagement in health care

Below are a few terms you should know that may help with your with patient engagement efforts.

Patient Education
Patient education enables individuals to make informed decisions about their personal health-related behavior. It aims to improve health by encouraging compliance with medical treatment regimens and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Asking patients to make behavioral changes is a complex process and requires more than the simple acquisition of knowledge. By making patient education materials available electronically where and when needed, access to knowing what to do is no longer a barrier. The Patient Engagement Playbook includes resources to guide patients in managing their health and healthcare.

Patient Portals
A patient portal is a secure website where patients can access their medical history and often other health information from their EHR. Using patient portals, patients can typically complete forms online, communicate with providers, request prescription refills, pay bills, review lab results, and schedule appointments.

Personal Health Records (PHRs)
A PHR is an electronic application used by individuals to maintain and manage their health information in a secure and confidential environment. PHRs are managed by individuals, can include data from a variety of sources, are separate from and do not replace the legal medical record, and can help individuals collect, store, and monitor their health information. The purpose of a PHR is to help individuals manage their health information and engage more actively in their health care.

Consumer Applications (Apps)
Consumer apps include web-based and/or mobile software applications that help individuals manage their health and healthcare. Consumer apps refer to any electronic tool, technology, or system that:

  1. is primarily designed to interact with consumers (anyone who seeks or uses health care information outside the delivery or management of care);
  2. interacts directly with the consumer who provides personal health information to and receives personal health information from the tool, application or system; and
  3. is one in which the data, information, or recommendations or other benefit provided to the consumer, may be used with a healthcare professional, but is not dependent on a healthcare professional.

Patient Generated Health Data (PGHD)
PGHD includes health-related data created, recorded, or gathered by patients (or family members or other caregivers) to help address a health concern or to monitor health. Historically, providers have had limited access to data on patients’ health and well-being. They’ve relied on information collected during patient visits, like self-reported lifestyle habits and family health histories.

Technology is transforming the ability to collect accurate, reliable patient data. Today, by using consumer apps and other technology, patients are able to collect and track data about their health. Across the nation, patients’ mobile phones and computers are teeming with information on their diet, exercise habits, and vital signs. The wealth of available data presents a new challenge - how to harness this data to improve clinical care and patient health.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services. There are several other definitions and resources for telehealth. See the below websites below:

Although the terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth” are often used to describe similar types of technologies, the term “telemedicine” has historically been used to refer specifically to bilateral, interactive health communications with clinicians on both “ends” of the exchange (e.g., videoconferenced Grand Rounds, x-rays transmitted between radiologists or consultations where a remote practitioner presents a patient to a specialist). Whereas, the term “telehealth” incorporates not only technologies that fall under “telemedicine,” but also direct, electronic patient-to-provider interactions and the use of medical devices (e.g., smartphone applications (“apps”), activity trackers, automated reminders, blood glucose monitors, etc.) to collect and transmit health information, often with the intent to monitor or manage chronic conditions. Currently, there are four basic modalities, or methods, of telehealth:

  1. Live video (synchronous): Live, two-way interaction between a person (patient, caregiver, or provider) and a provider using audiovisual telecommunications technology. While these videoconferences had historically and exclusively been provider-to-provider telemedicine encounters, many companies such as Teladoc and LiveHealth Online are now videolinking patients directly to clinicians on a daily basis.
  2. Store-and-forward (SFT): Transmission of videos and digital images such as x-rays and photos through a secure electronic communications system. As compared to a “real-time” visit, this service provides access to data after it has been collected. Generally, diagnostic information (e.g., x-rays, CT scans, EEG printouts) are recorded or captured at the patient’s site of care, and then sent to a specialist in another location. Because of the lag, or delay, between the time an image is sent and when it is interpreted, SFT is often referred to as “asynchronous.”
  3. Remote patient monitoring (RPM): Personal health and medical data collection from an individual in one location, which is transmitted to a provider in a different location. RPM is used primarily for the management of chronic illness, using devices such as Holter monitors to transmit information including vital statistics (e.g., blood pressure, blood oxygen levels) to clinicians.
  4. Mobile health (mHealth): Smartphone apps designed to foster health and well-being. These apps range from programs which send targeted text messages aimed at encouraging healthy behaviors to alerts about disease outbreaks to programs or apps that help patients with reminders to adhere to specific care regimens. Increasingly, smartphones may use cameras, microphones, or other sensors or transducers to capture vital signs for input to apps and bridging into RPM.

Telehealth Resource Center

Overview
Comprehensive online resource center that provides assistance, education and information to organizations and individuals who are actively providing or interested in providing medical care at a distance

Who it’s for
Providers currently providing or seeking to provide telehealth services

When it’s used
When seeking resources to explore or expand the availability of health care to underserved populations or those in need

Visit the Telehealth Resource Center site

Telehealth Start-Up and Resource Guide

Telehealth Start-Up and Resource Guide

Overview
This guide provides an overview and framework for implementing telehealth in critical access hospitals and rural areas. It is also intended to point the reader to reliable and informative resources for learning about telehealth and the organizations that support the use of telehealth in various ways

Who it’s for
Critical access hospitals in rural areas, Health IT implementers

When it’s used
During planning and implementation of telehealth resources

Download Telehealth Start-Up and Resource Guide [PDF - 1.8 MB]

Section 4 Recap

Use health IT to engage patients in their healthcare.

  • Check out the Patient Engagement Playbook
  • Explore other patient engagement resources
  • Learn more about Telehealth

Join the conversation.

Let us know how we can improve and expand on Patient Engagement.

Content last updated on: January 23, 2017