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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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How Do I Engage Patients?

Health IT can help you improve your patients’ understanding of their health and health conditions so that they become more involved in their own care and make decisions that promote their health.  In addition, with the support of health IT, you can encourage the involvement of your patients’ families, partners, and other caregivers, as many patients depend on their support.  PHRs and EHRs have been shown to facilitate patient self-management by motivating patients to care for themselves and by informing patients about their health. Examples of patient engagement activities include:

  • viewing medical records and key medical data
  • conducting transactions with providers, such as secure messaging with providers, refilling prescriptions, scheduling appointments
  • accessing medical knowledge and health information materials
  • managing personal health information (for example, blood pressure, weight)
  • receiving decision support for healthcare and health management decisions
  • participating in health-related online social networks   

The engagement of patients and their caregivers is so important this it was as one of the five policy priorities of the EHR Meaningful Use programs.  Patient engagement is valuable for all patients and is especially crucial for your HIV/AIDS patients, as they must manage complex chronic conditions on a day to day basis.  To qualify for EHR Meaningful Use incentives, you must provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information, including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summary, procedures, discharge instructions, and clinical summaries.  All certified EHRs have the capacity to do this.  

Other objectives from the “menu set” include providing patients with timely electronic access to their health information and using your EHR to identify patient-specific educational resources and providing those resources to the patient.  In the first years of the EHR Incentive Programs from 2011 to 2012, not all certified EHRs will be able to provide patients with access to their information or will be able to identify and provide educational resources to patients.  As EHR systems become more sophisticated over the next few years, it is likely that they will be able to help you to more fully engage your patients.  

Related Resources:

Use the Registry to Generate Reminders and Care Planning Tools for Individual Patients go to exit disclaimer– Instructions and tips for using registries to print off specific “take home sheets” for patients and for generating targeted reminders relevant to the patient’s specific needs.
Feasibility of using audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) screening in routine HIV care go to exit disclaimer– This article describes providers’ experience using audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI) screenings to identify patients who may need additional psychosocial support.  
Consumers and Health Information Technology: A National Survey go to exit disclaimer– This newly released report discusses patient use of personal health records based on a California HealthCare Foundation 2009-2010 survey.
Safety-Net Providers Bring Patients Online: Lessons from Early Adopters go to exit disclaimer– This resource illustrates the range of online approaches that are possible for patients, and includes case studies of several early-adopters.

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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