Engaged users are healthy patients. It makes sense. Patients who are invested in their health will work harder to maintain wellness creating the optimum preventative feedback loop. They understand their current health statuses and are actively improving them. Even key organizations like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid recognize the importance of patient engagement and have named it as a goal.
What’s the difference between patient engagement and activation?
Patient engagement and activation denote varying levels of interaction and accountability in the process to maintain prime health. A hypothetical example best illustrates their difference. Say a provider recommended that a patient begin using a wearable to log personal health data. Also suppose the data that wearable collected could be viewed through a smartphone app.
An engaged patient might use the wearable and check the app every once in a while.
An activated patient, would use the wearable, check the app data and begin to modify and improve behavior based on conclusions they drew from viewing their habits captured via the technology.
Patient activation matters
Researchers have found a link between activated patients and the populations who engage in preventative behaviors like taking prescriptions as directed and living well. Patients with higher activation levels also seek information about their health more readily and engage in self-health management.
Judith Hibbard, University of Oregon Professor, studies patient activation at the Institute for Policy Research and Innovation. Her work has further reinforced the link between patient activation and proactive health management.
- 88% of level 4 activated patients (the highest activation level) take prescriptions as directed compared to 31% of level 1 activated patients.
- 78% of level 4 activated patients read about complications related to their conditions compared to 36% of level 1 activated patients.
Providers have incentive to invest in patient engagement and activation
In the fee-for-service based care model, patients are billed based on the number of services performed. Thus in this model, providers are implicitly incentivized to provide more services to patients. The fee-for-service model doesn’t encourage institutions to streamline services or incorporate preventative tests, like Cardiac Calcium Scoring. Cardiac Calcium Scoring detects early signs of a potentially fatal heart attack. Instead, it’s more lucrative to treat patients for services required after a heart attack occurs.
The times they are a changin’
Now there’s a nationwide effort to hold each member of the care cycle accountable for patient outcomes. For providers that means looking at variables like hospital readmission to help secure government funding.
Beginning to hold providers accountable for quality patient care points toward the increasing emphasis on wellness and preventative health.
As research has shown, patient activation represents a valuable component to consider in teaching and normalizing wellness activities. Incorporating wellness technology into healthcare can help.
Wellness software, designed intuitively, offers the potential to engage patients and encourage positive activation behaviors. Read our Complete Guide to Wellness Software Development to learn more.
Photo courtesy of phipatbig.