Patient engagement is essential to improving care, but it can be a tough climb. For example, U.S. clients often note the most challenging government incentive measures are the ones that require patient response.

Health First (Brevard County, Florida, U.S.A.) recognized the importance of genuine patient engagement, including millions of dollars in potential Meaningful Use incentives. Below, Health First shares how – within just a few short weeks – it achieved 52.6% of patients with online access and encouraged 6.8% of patients to view information electronically.

Here are some of the successful strategies from Health First Vice President of Enterprise Applications/Informatics and Chief Nursing Informatics Officer Karie Ryan, RN, MS, BSN:

1. Remember that implementation is just a first step.

During the summer of 2014, Health First implemented Allscripts FollowMyHealth® patient portal (and rebranded it HFConnect). But just building a portal is not enough to achieve true patient engagement.

“…once it was implemented, we also knew we needed to dedicate time and resources to educating patients and helping them use HFConnect,” Ryan said.

2.  Ascend faster by working with patients at registration, in rooms.

Because Health First staff was already working at peak capacity, leaders brought in additional resources and purchased FollowMyHealth Patient Engagement Consulting Services (PECS). Equipped with laptops, PECS concierges worked in the lobbies of the four hospitals and visited patients in their rooms. They explained benefits, addressed email/password issues and helped complete registrations.

“This one-on-one effort was highly successful…patients really appreciated the support and assistance, and immediately felt comfortable with the portal,” Ryan said.

3.  Meet measures, but keep your eyes on the summit: improving overall health.

Health First focused on meeting the patient engagement measures for Meaningful Use Stage 2, which included 50% of patients with access to the portal and 5% of patients viewing, downloading or transmitting data through the portal. Between September 3, 2014 and the September 30 deadline, Health First more than doubled its numbers to exceed both targets.

“We were pleased with our success in meeting MU2…We are confident that this level of engagement will help us deliver better care and motivate patients to become active partners with us. Our ultimate goal is to improve the overall health and well-being of our community,” Ryan said.


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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.

2 COMMENTS on 3 ways to take patient engagement to new heights


Matt Costa says:

02/17/2015 at 7:20 am

Congratulations to Health First, the patient interaction is the tough part of this measure to achieve. This requires oranzation-wide support and responsibility cannot rest in a single area; all areas must work together, especially at the level of the provider’s offices. It is also key to involve the patient when they are on-site and the opportunity is present to emphasize how the portal will benefit each patient specifically; from viewing lab results, to scheduling follow-up visits, to sending inquiries back for clarification on meds and instructions.


Corrine says:

02/26/2015 at 8:15 am

As health information technology continue to increase and become an integral part of the health care delivery system, health care leaders and providers must educate patients about electronic health records. The direct one-on-one interaction proved to be beneficial. Not only did HF meet their target but more patients became engaged and are now empowered to become active participants in their care.


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