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Chapter 5 Patient Engagement

Chapter 5: Patient Engagement

P atients are experiencing the changing healthcare landscape in many ways. They are increasingly encouraged to take an active role in their own healthcare. By being an active participant, patients are improving their health by managing chronic conditions like high blood pressure through lifestyle modifications. It is important to realize that a patient’s well-being is balanced on a three-legged stool. The first leg is the patient. The second leg is the provider. Finally, the last leg is technology. Thus, an equally balanced stool will result in stabilized health care of the patient. In today’s day and time, a large portion of the population relies on social media and the internet for health advice.

Engaging patients using technology encompasses two tools: a patient portal and social media. Both result in improved communication between the patient and the provider. Through the use of these tools, providers can instill a systemic change in their patients resulting in patient focused-care and associated health benefits. These benefits include patient satisfaction, reduced length of stay, and reduced cost per case. Clinicians place a great amount of effort educating and communicating with patients while they are at the physician office. However, these efforts are futile if the patient is not able to apply the information they learn or correspond with the physician about questions they have about their health. The purpose of patient portals and social media tools is to ensure that health care becomes a daily part of a patient’s life and not an aspect of their life they focus on only when they are at the physician office. As the healthcare industry strives to improve the quality of health care each patient receives, it is essential that patient engagement become an important aspect of this movement.

What is a Patient Portal? A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients access to their personal health information anytime, anywhere with an internet connection. EHRs that engage patients through patient portals increase access to information empower patients to take an active role in the management of their own healthcare, and help improve overall health outcomes. Allowing patients to access their own records electronically is a menu measure for Meaningful Use.

Tips for launching the patient portal The patient portal is an effective patient engagement tool when it is utilized effectively. Thus, it is essential for providers and staff to promote the portal. Advertise the portal by posting signs/posters, talking about the portal during telephone on-hold messages, and having staff wear “Ask me about the portal” buttons. Staff should develop talking points that encourage patients to sign up and use the portal. It is also important for the staff to be familiar with using the portal to answer questions, share information with patients, and ensure that the portal is activated and free of technical difficulties. Patient portal is a key aspect of patient education and engagement. Practices can obtain more information about patient portals through their EHR vendor. While portals are a secure tool to engage patients and involve them more in their own health care, physicians can also utilize social media alongside patient portals as a method of disseminating health tips and disease management strategies.

Chapter 5: Patient Engagement

What is Social Media? Social media is a way for people to interact and communicate using virtual communities. Most social media is internet-based applications. Some examples of social media include Facebook, Twitter, texting, Powtoon, etc. Social media can be used by providers to promote healthy living to their patients.

PowToon PowToon is an online cloud-based software that allows users to create animated videos. This PowToon shares the importance of quality reporting. It also provides a more “fun” way of spreading information. Physicians can create PowToon videos to address the needs of their patient population.


Texting can be used to message patients about upcoming appoints or send them occasional health facts.

Twitter Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called “tweets”. Practices can create Twitter accounts and patients can “follow” them. Practices can use Twitter to share health information as well as promote information from local health departments or health organizations.

Examples of how providers and practices can use Twitter to improve patient engagement: Limiting sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day can help reduce blood pressure #bloodpressure #hypertension

Blood pressure varies throughout the day. To monitor BP, take blood pressure at the same time every day. #bloodpressuretips Eat breakfast daily. Skipping meals pushes blood glucose higher. #diabetes #bloodsugar #eatinghealthy

Chapter 5: Patient Engagement

Facebook Facebook is an online social networking service. Like Twitter, practices can create a Facebook page and promote it to their patients. Patients will “Like” the page and receive frequent notifications in their newsfeed whenever the practice posts information. Providers, if they have FB pages, can add links to other FB pages such as those for Diabetes and Hypertension.

Examples of how a practice can engage patients through Facebook: Extra fiber in your daily diet helps reduce cholesterol. (insert link for foods with high fiber) While research is ongoing, scientists have uncovered some interesting (and distressing) information about what cigarette additives really add to the smoking experience. (insert link or share link)

Don’t Fear Social Media Some providers are hesitant about using social media as many patients might start posting their views about the physician along with asking for diagnosis using the website. But, the physicians can do a few things: 1. Promote the social media of other reputable health organizations such as AHA/ADA’s FB, Twitter to learn more about hypertension and diabetes. 2. Control your privacy so that all posts and comments are moderated before going public.

Check out the social media of some popular health organizations! MDCH AASMO Diabetes Hypertension


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