HIStalk, a popular health IT blog, recently conducted a poll on what practices and hospitals consider their top priorities for 2014. Over and over again, readers brought up three things: ICD-10, Meaningful Use Stage 2, and patient engagement.
With vendors still certifying for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and many medical organizations still in the beginning stages of preparing for ICD-10, the priority practices may have the most control over right now is improving patient engagement. Somewhat ironic, considering the patient involvement required for patients to be engaged.
Most doctors aren’t thrilled about the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirement that patients be able to view, download, and transmit their records to a third party, and with good reason. However, shepherding patients to their patient portals may not be as difficult as many assume it will be.
Because patients want to be there.
In fact, the patient engagement requirement may be the most useful Meaningful Use requirement because it is something that patients have wanted for years: the ability to not only access their records electronically, but to also be able to share those records with caregivers and other doctors. Patients have waited a long time for this capability, and many are even willing to switch doctors to get it.
Of course, to engage patients in this way, your practice will have to install a patient portal system, if it hasn’t already. Once that’s done, getting patients involved can be as simple as spreading the word: informing patients during check-in/check-out that they can send messages to their provider and view test results through the portal, encouraging patients to complete their patient registration forms online before coming into the clinic, and putting up signs or creating phone messages directing patients to the portal.
Just like with Meaningful Use and ICD-10, patient engagement must be a high priority now in order to pay off later in the year. Fortunately, guiding patients to the patient portal is a relatively simple process, at least in comparison to most other health IT challenges.