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Consumer Engagement in 2016: What’s the Buzz?

Engagement. For many health systems, it’s like the Holy Grail – desirable but tough to attain. So we asked members of the HealthLeaders Media Council about their consumer engagement strategies – what tools they use, who’s using them and what obstacles they face.

“When it comes to engagement, we need to start thinking about patients as consumers,” said Adam Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer, ActiveHealth Management. “In a population health model, if we wait for people to become patients, we’ve already missed the boat. We want to make it as simple as possible for people to proactively engage in their health."

"For a healthy person, that might mean providing convenient digital tools and rewarding healthy behavior," Scott continued. "For someone more high-risk, it might be a condition-specific care management program or coaching. One size certainly doesn’t fit all and analytics – both clinical and behavioral – will allow us to present personalized experiences to all consumers that allow them to achieve their optimal health.”

Below are the results and analysis from part 1 – stay tuned for part 2, and check out the results from last year’s HealthLeaders population health survey. 
Patient Portals – 71% of respondents are using patient portals to engage patients. This is an encouraging number, but research indicates that there are still growing pains. According to one study reported in Medical Economics, the top consumer complaints are: unresponsive staff (34%), and confusing portal interfaces (33%). But when users do visit portals the information makes an impact, as we saw in our guest blogger’s experience
That impact increases when portal registration is encouraged face to face. In-office portal registration yields twice as many portal activations as more passive methods (text, email), sugggesting that a combination of high tech and high-touch works best.
Condition-Specific or Wellness Outreach Programs – 68% of respondents engage patients through outreach programs. We are seeing health systems proactively connect with consumers through traditional and digital channels, and use marketing techniques such as customer relationship management (CRM) to target distinct populations. One health system uses Pinterest, which has a high concentration of younger women, to promote women’s health. Other health systems work directly with employers, offering risk assessments and follow-up programs for employees at risk. Care management platforms offer real-time connection with patients between office visits. These are all signs that health systems are actively working within their communities to keep populations healthy. 
Post-Discharge Coaching – 58% of organizations actively coach patients after they are discharged from a health care facility. This number is expected to grow as health systems increasingly shift to value-based care. Health systems that do not have a process in place risk penalites for avoidable 30-day readmissions, which may occur when a patient leaves a facility confused about a new diagnosis or prescriptions. We have seen that care management increases the chances of successful transitions, by identifying underlying issues that impact patients.
The other categories for this question revealed that some hot topics, such as cost transparency and remote monitoring, haven’t made it into the mainstream yet, with only 19% and 12% responding affirmatively, respectively. 
Progress in patient engagement would be impossible without the enabling technologies that are themselves evolving. We surmise that the early adopters will reap the benefits for themselves, and by example, will help others to accelerate the learning curve. 
Repondent Profile
The HealthLeaders Media Council is made up of executives from health care provider organizations; 161 individuals responded to this survey:
  • Senior Leaders: 45%
  • Clinical Leaders: 23%
  • Operations Leaders: 21%
  • Financial Leaders: 5%
  • Marketing Leaders: 5%
  • Information Leaders: 1%

Categories: Consumer Engagement


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