Why is patient engagement so important?

In a nutshell, patient engagement in healthcare refers to patients being as informed as possible about their options for treatment, medications, recuperation, and all other aspects of the healthcare system supporting them. Patient engagement involves “providers and patients working together to improve health,” noted a report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

It's always been important, but it's finally time to make this a top priority for everyone. Why, because if we can, everyone will win. So many tech companies today are talking all about "solving for the customer." When you solve for the customers, everyone wins. So why isn't this being said in healthcare today? Maybe you'd argue that it is being said, but I'd share that I don't think it's being executed on, even if it's being said out loud. Over the past 6 months, I've shared harper's value proposition to many organizations around the world. However, every time we talk about why patient engagement is super important, the conversation quickly changes, it's not changing because I'm asking a leading question, it's changing because people still are thinking about healthcare and technology backwards. So you might ask, where does the conversation go? Well, it quickly goes to a few key areas:

  1. How are we solving for physician burnout
  2. How are we solving for physician compensation
  3. How are we solving for physician organizations to increase revenue

These are all GREAT questions to be asking, but I think they are the wrong ones. Because just like how the tech industry "winners" are solving for their customers, healthcare organizations will "win" when they realize they should be solving for their customers, the important ones, the patients. Physicians will continue to get paid, some of them will get burnt out, and hospitals will need to continue to understand how to maximize revenue. That won't change and many organizations will be able to help with that. My point here today is, that more organizations, more people should be asking how can we help more patients. The end result is a lot more substantial than a customer growing their business, the end result is life. The end result is someone's loved one, staying alive. People will be able to create more memories, share more stories and enjoy more of each other. Isn't this what life is about? Over the last 6 months, every time I get off a call with a innovation team at some of the world's best hospitals, I scratch my head. "Why aren't they getting it?" It means, why aren't we innovating on how to help patients, why is the focus always on the physician?.

Greater engagement in healthcare leads to improved health outcomes, that is a fact. Patients that are empowered with knowledge (simply understanding what the physician is saying to them as 90% of patients forget the information that has been shared with them) and that take part in the decision making process around their care typically have better outcomes and are healthier as a result.

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