Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

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Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

Cleveland Clinic chief experience officer Adrienne Boissy shares patient engagement advice

Success requires finesse on several fronts: engaging clinicians, care givers, IT vendors and patients themselves, all at the same time.
By Diana Manos
09:18 AM
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Cleveland Clinic Adrienne Boissy

Despite so many myths about how difficult ramping up patient engagement efforts can be, it is possible and realistic at scale, according to Cleveland Clinic’s chief experience officer Adrienne Boissy, MD.

Cleveland Clinic has been focused on the patient experience for more than a decade and, in fact, was the first network in the country to appoint a chief experience officer, effectively elevating the quest for patient engagement under the C-suite, she said.

Value-based care is driving the need for more patient engagement to improve outcomes, but the use of technology to aid in that endeavor has the potential to be interpreted as “harsh, cold and unfriendly” to patients and clinicians when compared to human empathy, Boissy said. She hears this a lot from doctors.

The solution is to remember that technology has a real role in encouraging patient engagement, while at the same time, recognizing what doctors want, which is to not be distracted or disengaged from their patients.  

Digital patient engagement carries a different meaning, depending on whom you ask, Boissy said, and that to electronic health record vendors it often means, “did the users click on the buttons they were supposed to?”

For the medical profession, it means: Are patients demonstrating the actions and behaviors they need in order to drive better health outcomes? Are doctors confident that their patients can help to manage their own health? Are patients motivated to manage their health?

“These questions may seem simple, but they have very different meanings depending on the community you ask,” Boissy said. For that reason, it’s important to get an entire staff on the same page, she said.

”Unless you can agree with what you’re striving for,” Boissy said, “you’re not going to get there.”

Digital patient engagement is a hot phrase right now, but it’s critically important to think about what that really means. To be fair, this takes a partnership between the clinical side and the technology side of things.

That makes it important to look at patient engagement through various lenses; the side of physicians and the side of the vendor, Boissy said. Sometimes, there’s the misconception that doctors don’t want to embrace the technology, but this isn’t true, she says. “I’ve never met a clinician who doesn’t want to be doing the right thing for their patients.”  

Yet doctors have some valid arguments against technology, sometimes. EHRs and patient engagement tools often add administrative burdens and disengage doctors from caring for patients. Healthcare executives need to focus on remedies for this. The greatest potential for technology is for it to help clinicians feel more engaged — not less so — with their patients, while helping to artfully engage patients at the same time. “You’ll get the maximum potential, if you engage both.”

Developers will get further, faster with doctors if the technology demonstrates a real benefit for them, Boissy said.  What makes doctors’ work meaningful is what they do with patients. Clinician buy-in takes place when that aspect is taken into account. With that in mind, maybe “slow adopters” aren’t resistant to technology, maybe they simply aren’t able to connect with their patients, because the technology is too intrusive.

When it comes to the vendors’ side of the equation, there are reasons for what they do, too, Boissy said. “You have to address the needs of both sides,” she said. “There are limits on what the technology can do.” Most healthcare organizations already have an EHR. The real question is, “where is the patient engagement technology going to sit?” If it’s outside of the EHR, then that creates another layer of work for the doctors and the IT team. But sometimes it has to be located outside the EHR, and that results in workarounds that are hard on everybody.

Last, but not least, there are the patients to consider. They expect a seamless experience when they use engagement tools — and, naturally, they don’t care what it takes or how difficult it may be on the back end.

Boissy will be sharing some patient engagement insights at the Digital and Personal Connected Health forum at the HIMSS annual conference on February 19th and 20th in Orlando and 

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.


This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.


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