Engaged consumers have better outcomes and cost less money. This is a mantra in health and human services with good reason – What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data On Costs, Engaging Patients To Decrease Costs And Improve Outcomes, and Better Outcomes For Less Cost Will Follow Engaged Patients.
By definition, engaged consumers are consumers that take action to become better informed and more proactively involved in decisions and behaviors that affect their health, insurance coverage, and health care. Deloitte’s 2015 report, Health Care Consumer Engagement: No “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach, identified engaged consumers as those who are:
- Taking deliberate steps to monitor and improve their health
- Looking for information to learn more about health concerns and compare treatment options
- Taking cost and quality into consideration when choosing treatments, providers, and plans
- Partnering with health care professionals to make treatment decisions as well as communicating and sharing information with their care team
- Adhering to recommended treatment plans
Health and human service executives are developing strategies to increase the “engagement” of their consumers. This raises two questions: How do you improve consumer engagement among your organization’s consumers? And, how do you know if those strategies are working and improving consumer engagement? I thought the approach recommended in, A Roadmap For Patient + Family Engagement in Healthcare, by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is a great place to start.
They have an eight-strategy roadmap for improving consumer engagement. Two of the strategies – legislation and regulation/public policy partnerships are a more “big picture” approaches to consumer engagement, but the other six strategies (listed below with their recommended tactics) are a great framework for assessing your organization’s consumer engagement status.
“Educate, prepare, and empower consumers and families to engage effectively in their health and health care” – Provider organizations can increase the education of consumer, families, and peers through the adoption of shared decision-making tools and educational materials. The goal is to prepare consumers to work with health care organizations and stakeholders.
“Educate, prepare, and empower clinical professionals to collaborate effectively with consumers and their families” – Clinical professionals and students studying to become clinical professionals also need training, centered on developing consumer and family engagement competencies (including experiential learning, observation, and hands-on practice) that allow them to partner with consumers.
“Redesign system processes, policies, and structures to provide opportunities for and support of partnerships between consumers, families, and the care team” – Active listening needs to be part of both the individual professional’s skill set, as well as built into organizational structures and processes. This comes down to communication tools that both “hear” the consumer and support shared decision making.
“Redesign health care organizations to make consumers and their families part of the governance structure” – Engaging consumers also means including them in the design of processes, policies, services, and facilities. This puts the “consumer voice” closer to the mission of the organization while allowing a deeper level of consumer engagement with their health care services.
“Create measures to improve care, facilitate changes in processes, and assess the relationships among engagement, experiences, and outcomes” – Executive teams of provider organizations need to adopt outcome goals and the measures to gauge progress when it comes to consumer engagement. The focus of these measures needs to be on tracking and understanding consumer engagement, and having the feedback loops in place that gives decisionmaking professionals real-time information.
“Make information on consumer engagement transparent to promote organizational accountability and to enable consumer and their families to be active participants” – To have truly engaged consumers, they need a transparent view of the information available, including information on quality, cost, treatment options, and approaches. Publicly reporting this information and making it part of educational materials will provide consumers the information they need to understand risks, benefits, costs, quality safety, and services.
For more on consumer engagement, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Library:
- Patient Engagement In Healthcare A Key To Value-Based Reimbursement
- In Health Care Tech Investments, Keep Consumers Part Of The Equation
- Social Media Listening As Consumer Engagement Strategy
- Consumer Access & Customer Service Functionality In Population Health Management: Preparing For Value-Based Reimbursement
- Innovations In Consumer Technology: How To Use Tech To Increase Engagement & Improve Satisfaction
- Engaging Consumers To Improve Outcomes: Bringing Patient Engagement To Population Health
For more on how to do this in your organization, join Jeff Reid, Executive Vice President, Digital Center Of Excellence, Humana for his opening keynote address, “Humana’s Digital Transformation: Redefining The Consumer Health Care Experience” at The 2017 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute in New Orleans.