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Patient Engagement: No One is Just a Number

We've been spending a lot of time reading and posting and tweeting about Patient Engagement and now as we get ready for HIMSS14, we are looking forward to meeting other professionals in the same or a complimentary health care space.

What we find today in this ever changing landscape of healthcare are a lot of companies, similar to us, poised to work with those EHR companies that are willing to find a way to share data in a safe and consistent environment. There are companies offering software and services that the EHR has barely even considered. Not to mention, HIE is huge! It’s hard not to constantly jump up and say, “Hey! We can do that, too and probably for cheaper…” anytime we are in discussions with other companies.

In the meantime, to keep our finger on the pulse of patient engagement and HIE, we are meeting with our customers, doctors whom are good at doing their jobs. We are networking to make their jobs easier. We’re sitting down talking to their nurses and we’re reaching out in rapid succession to determine the actual needs of our customers and of their patients.These doctors are not merely “providers” and they don’t wish to be thought of as a “provider number” they are healthcare physicians working hard at something they love, because it’s what they do best.

They are looking to us, the software companies to hear them and see them and work with them to help them not only meet the Meaningful Use requirements, but to help the flow and influx of new patients. It is nice that with Obamacare, more of us may have insurance; but I don’t yet see throngs of new doctors rushing to availability for all of the new patients. In fact, The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.

Sure, we need to engage the patients, but we also need to engage the doctors. What is the root? People. People taking responsibility. People being human. People communicating.

Right now, many doctors are resentful and in fact some flat out refuse to accept some of the new insurance payments. As one, very social doctor has shared online: "So here we are, you are getting new business offering health insurance plans featuring my services without my consent under terms which are unacceptable to me."  To read more of Dr. Held's letter click here. This is not good news to healthcare, particularly if we are already estimating not having enough physicians to accommodate their patients. Waiting times will go up. Patients will be unhappy. This is an interesting rant: http://bit.ly/1mppjcm 

Once more, the answer to “patient engagement” resides in several places. Of fundamental import is realization that we are all human. Each doctor, patient and person deserves some thought. For that matter, I truly believe this is also true of each vendor and software application. The EHRs that are holding on so tightly to their data need to acknowledge their wizzbang developers haven’t thought of it all, and it may just make sense to partner with like-minded companies and offer a truly exceptional suite of products.