ellenAs I start to look back on HiMSS 2015, my first reaction is a long, extended exhale.  Boy, do they know how to pack it in! My second reaction is to reflect on some of the hot topics swirling around this year on the convention floor. And one of the things we all heard a lot about in 2015 was patient engagement. In a nutshell:

If health systems can encourage patients to get more interested and engaged in the management of their own healthcare, then patients, hospitals and the healthcare system in general can gain quite a lot. Why? Because more engaged patients lead to better health outcomes.

From a healthcare IT angle, patient engagement conversations tend to focus on things like patient portals, the use of social media, and even remote monitoring for home health scenarios. But there’s another way in which healthcare IT intersects with the issue of patient engagement and it has a lot to do with the face-to-face relationship between patient and physician.

The Leave Me Alone Problem
The simple fact is, the 15 minutes patients that have with their doctor are critical for fostering engagement. But when doctors have their noses buried in their devices for most of that time, the opportunity for engagement is often lost.

Think about your daily life when someone is looking at a device: your kids at the breakfast table, the guy next to you on the train, a colleague during a meeting. In almost all cases, the message is “leave me alone.” That’s not engagement – its dis-engagement.

This is not the message clinicians intend to send. They’re simply trying to access the information they need for the patient/doctor conversation. But when IT gets in the way with poor usability, slow responsiveness, painful log-on experiences, and limited self-service, clinicians spend too much time struggling with the technology. And the patients feel shut out.

Parallels of Engagement
Take a look at the following image and you’ll see that when it comes to engagement in general, there are striking similarities to what patients want and what clinicians want.

What patients vs clinicians want

It turns out that patients and clinicians need many of the same things – and helping on one side of the equation can help out on the other.

This is what we believe at RES – which is why we’re focused on supporting healthcare IT in enabling clinicians to do their jobs better with solutions like:

  • Context awareness that understands a given clinical situation and automates access to the appropriate data and services based on role, location, and a wide range of other attributes
  • An automated service store that empowers clinicians to self-serve for the IT services they need, quickly and automatically
  • Fast, high-performance virtual workspace technology that enables clinicians to work anywhere on any device
  • Automated, integrated security and compliance to help health systems avoid breaches, minimize risk, and adhere to regulations

Physicians can engage more effectively, spending more time focusing on patient needs. This helps to draw patients in, subsequently promoting their own engagement in their own healthcare decisions. The ultimate result is better health outcomes. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that improved clinician efficiency helps to optimize costs and increase revenue as physicians see more patients faster.

waterbury-hospital-150x150Stay tuned for next blog posts, as my reflections don’t end here. In the meantime, don’t just take my word for how RES fosters greater engagement for clinicians and patients alike. Read on for how Waterbury Hospital streamlined workflow and improved overall clinician productivity by accelerating clinicians’ access to their applications and eliminated old login scripts that caused significant delays for clinicians. Read the case study here.