Is patient engagement just a monologue instead of a dialogue?
Patient engagement. We engage our patients. We measure patient satisfaction. We are concerned with the overall health of our patients.
Inform me. Engage me. Empower me. Partner with me. Support my e-community.
All of this is wonderful, but I still question if this is just a simple “monologue” in healthcare. It seems to me that most healthcare organizations do a lot to talk about their patient engagement or patient satisfaction. The scores, the process improvement projects, their new programs.
On the flip side, I hear from a lot of patient advocacy groups on their needs, wants, and desires.
I am fortunate enough to travel the globe to observe, question, and gain a better understanding of communities, of people, of cultures, and of healthcare in general. No matter where I am or where I go, it comes down to the same problem: communication and a “meaningful dialogue” between people living in the local geography and the healthcare organization and clinicians that share the same space.
Not that my observations are different than anyone else’s, but I still question, is patient engagement just a monologue instead of a dialogue?
To break it down, the word engagement means a lot of different things too many different people. When you look up the word engagement on-line this is what you see: Click on link
First definition refers back to a formal agreement between two people to get married. Move down slightly and it states that it is an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.
Look at definition 4: A fight or battle between armed forces
Wait, I thought “engagement” meant something good or positive between two people? How did it go from a formal agreement to a fight or battle?
If I move to the word patient, and look it up on-line, this is what I find as a definition (or click here): used as a noun, it means a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment. If you use the word patient as an adjective, it means the ability to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or sufferings without becoming annoyed or anxious.
I believe what healthcare and all of the “experts” have been trying to drive towards is a day in which a person commits and is ready to receive a medical treatment at a specific place and time. Wait….isn’t this what currently happens?
Or maybe all of the experts and publication have been describing the ongoing battle that occurs between the dogmatic practices in healthcare and the new age of consumerism creeping into patient communities? Dare they be so provocative?
Perhaps what everyone is trying to describe is the consensual marriage between patient and healthcare entering into a committed relationship in which both parties are held accountable?
Today we live in a world of fee for service. The approval of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act is pushing to a new age of pay for value. Perhaps one day that value may not be only defined by government and healthcare. Maybe someone will be disruptive and bring communities and their consumers to the table, ask them what they want, how they want it, and when they want it to develop a new definition of value.
A definition that actually allows two sides of the equation to talk openly, define what value means to both, and to set expectations up front to enter into a true partnership. A partnership in which both parties work together over the course of a consumer’s lifetime to achieve lasting healthcare with minimum interventions as a “patient” is valued.
I would like to see a story in which healthcare organization, clinicians, and “experts” actually take the time and spend it talking to consumers, the people in their communities and actually understand what their needs are, and then deliver on those expectations.
You want patient engagement.
I want a true life story on consumer activation.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
This article was originally published on the site, Cancer Geek: Challenging the Status Quo in Healthcare and Industry.
About the Author:
Andrew DeLaO, also known as @cancergeek has an extensive background in healthcare, cancer services, business development, and marketing. Andy has worked clinically in radiation oncology and then moved into administration and operations, where he had the opportunity to tap into patient communities to develop and build new hospitals and several cancer centers
Currently he works in the healthcare division of a Fortune 500 Company, where he spent 3 years leading a national oncology team focused on having conversations with customers and collaborating to improve patient care and access.