It’s a simple concept: patients who are engaged in their own health care are more likely to experience positive outcomes. But how do we engage them? That’s the million-dollar question.

At our recent user conference, Population Health University, three clients shared patient engagement experiences, tactics they use to drive registration and participation, and how their approaches result in better care. Here are highlights from those presentations:

Baylor Scott & White: Achieved initial 10% adoption rate with phased “go-live”

Baylor Scott & White, one of the largest health systems in Texas, went live with FollowMyHealth™ this year in both its ambulatory and acute facilities.

According to its clinical coordinator of information technology, Paul Bassel, MD, the organization believes there is even more opportunity to engage patients through its ambulatory arm, Health Texas. “Here the value proposition is much greater, given the ongoing nature of the relationship with the patient,” said Dr. Bassel.

Baylor Scott & White triggers invitations to its ambulatory patients based on encounters with the office, and also sent invitations over the course of several weeks to 120,000 patients with email addresses on file.

“We registered about 15,000 active accounts in just a few weeks,” said Dr. Bassel. “It’s about a 10% adoption rate, and we’re pretty happy with that as a starting point.” Dr. Bassel also credits some of the success to an internal awareness campaign and training to encourage clinician acceptance.

On the acute side, Baylor Scott & White started a phased “go-live” approach throughout February and March. The hospitals sent emails inviting patients to register through the FollowMyHealth portal based upon two trigger events – admission and discharge. There are currently about 5,000 activated accounts, enabling patients to see medications, allergies, conditions, immunizations and discharge instructions.

“The potential of FollowMyHealth platform is very exciting,” said Dr. Bassel. “It’s like a beehive of possibilities and ideas, enabling our care coordinators to communicate with patients.”

UC Irvine Health: Measuring patient activation levels

UC Irvine Health (Orange, Calif., U.S.A.) uses FollowMyHealth in several ways to help patients navigate and engage with the organization. For example, UC Irvine uses electronic wellness tools with educational opportunities specific to each patient’s needs. It’s also using secure health messaging to improve communications between patients and caregivers.

“A lot of people are talking about patient engagement, but we’re really measuring the patient’s activation level,” said UC Irvine Health Informatics Outreach Architect Jamie Anand.

UC Irvine will soon incorporate a four-stage Patient Activation Measure (PAM) protocol to determine each patient’s engagement. This scale defines progressive activation levels as: (1) patient believes s/he is responsible for health, (2) patient has the confidence and knowledge to act, (3) patient takes action to maintain and improve health, and (4) patient stays the course even under stress. This scale will help UC Irvine understand the patient’s current activation level, and help caregivers track progress.

“Measuring this activation is predictive of behaviors, and research is showing that an engaged patient is more involved in preventative behaviors,” said Anand. “It’s really important to stimulate them and increase their activation.”

Pottstown Medical Specialists, Inc.: Big value for small practices

A physician-owned practice outside of Philadelphia, Penn., U.S.A., Pottstown Medical Specialists, Inc. (PMSI) signed up for FollowMyHealth in 2011. While acknowledging that being a small practice has its challenges, Clinical Applications System Specialist Kimberly Slifer, RN, said PMSI’s size helped it move quickly to launch its patient engagement initiative. “My IT budget would fit into a shaving bag if it was converted to cash…but being a smaller organization makes decisions a lot easier, and we selected FollowMyHealth after just two meetings.”

PMSI found that patients were immediately more engaged through FollowMyHealth. If patients detected an error or omission in their chart, for example, they called the office right away. “Everyone at PMSI is now more accountable to keep the chart leaner and cleaner,” said Slifer.

Slifer also offered advice for inviting patients to join the portal. “If you don’t invite the patient within two days of collecting their email addresses, they’re not going to join.” PMSI’s procedure is to send invitations to patients the same day that they are in the office.

Adding secure messaging in January 2013 has further enhanced communication between patients and clinicians. They’re hoping to improve clinical outcomes, such as increasing smoking cessation rates, by using FollowMyHealth.

One thing was clear after spending time with Allscripts FollowMyHealth users: Our patient engagement platform is encouraging people to become active members of the care team. To learn more, click here.

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About the author

John Pacione is Vice President of Development Leadership for Population Health at Allscripts. He brings more than 20 years of information technology experience to this role, primarily in health care. Formerly the president of Jardogs, John leads efforts to develop FollowMyHealth solutions and align them with market needs. Prior to Jardogs, John worked at Allscripts as Vice President of Development Operations, responsible for quality, standardization and service releases across several product lines. John also previously served as Vice President of Development for Allscripts TouchWorks®EHR product line.

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