Event Spotlight: The Patient Engagement Imperative

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Joe Selby, Executive Director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, makes his opening remarks. Source: Health Affairs
Joe Selby, Executive Director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, makes his opening remarks. Source: Health Affairs

On April 7, 2016, health care industry researchers and thought leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to introduce the April 2016 issue of Health Affairs. The issue, entitled Patients’ & Consumers’ Use Of Evidence,” examines the new era of person-centered care and its implications for physician practice and health care delivery at large.

The physician’s lament that the patient is noncompliant’ is slowly being replaced with recognition that the patient is co-producer of the outcome for which the physician is now being held accountable,” said Alan Weil, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, in the issue’s introduction.

That outcome, as new health care polices have directed, is focused on quality of care rather than quantity of services. Thus, physician reporting of quality measures is key. But as many of the speakers explained, this time-consuming reporting can make engaging with patients even more difficult. 

Lawrence P. Casalino, Livingston Farrand professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, presented the findings from a survey of physicians from four common specialties. The study found that on average, each doctor spent 785 hours reporting quality measures. Furthermore, 81 percent of respondents rated their quality measure efforts -- such as entering quality measures data into patient medical records -- as more” or much more” than three years ago, Casalino said. 

"The physician’s lament that the patient is noncompliant’ is slowly being replaced with recognition that the patient is co-producer of the outcome for which the physician is now being held accountable."

Steven Woolf, director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, shared his view on how authentic engagement of patients and communities can actually transform research, practice and policy. He asked the audience to imagine if patients were engaged fully, not only in decisions about their personal care, but also in health research from the beginning.

The results might actually be patient-centered,” Woolf said.

Overall, the speakers agreed that there is now a need for a better understanding of patient goals, better methods for engaging people in their own care, and better measures of outcomes that have meaning for everyone.