Patient engagement talk is everywhere, but what does the term Patient Engagement mean? In the context of the US Patients Bill of Rights it means patients’ taking an active role in in staying healthy. In the context of Meaningful Use it means activities that healthcare organizations do to encourage patients to:
- View, download, and transmit their personal health data.
- Receive or respond to a secure message using the electronic health record’s (EHR) electronic messaging function.
- Contribute patient-generated data (also called user-generated data) from a non-clinical setting, to the EHR.
These three measures are driving most conversations about what patient engagement means. But Patient Engagement is many things to many people. Ayogo belongs to the Patient Engagement working group of the Global Alliance for Medical Education (GAME). A recent GAME survey of patient engagement subject matter experts asked “what is your definition of Patient Engagement?” and received 22 different answers! Reading the definitions, the story of the blind men and the elephant came to mind. Each of us has a firm grasp on our piece of the story, depending on our top concerns. For some the focus is on imparting knowledge and understanding of disease, for others it is as narrowly defined as patient portal access. More commonly it is about equipping patients with knowledge for shared decision making, self-efficacy and self management.
Definition of Patient Engagement
Patient engagement and Patient Activation are often used interchangeably. Once, patient engagement was the first step of opening one’s eyes to one’s health condition and readying for action, and Patient Activation described the actions that followed. The patient engagement definition from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) clearly includes both:
The involvement in their own care by individuals (and others they designate to engage on their behalf), with the goal that they make competent, well-informed decisions about their health and health care and take action to support those decisions.”