Patient Advocates, Health Plans Share Patient Engagement Experiences at WEDI Summit

Patient advocate Sherri Loeb, RN, BSN, shared the frustrations and successes of healthcare and health IT professionals during a presentation that included her own personal experiences at the WEDI Healthcare Innovations Summit in Chicago on Wednesday.

Loeb, who has worked as a nurse in the Chicago area for 33 years, discussed her experience as a wife and mother when her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer. A co-speaker in a presentation titled “Moving Outside the Boundaries of the Doctor’s Office,” Loeb reflected on how she has come to view health IT and patient engagement in the time since her husband’s diagnosis, treatment, and death. She shared several observations and advice for providers:

  • Even though electronic health records (EHRs) have medication reconciliation functionality, clinicians often don’t have to go manually through each medication and reconcile it with the others. Dispensing errors can still be made.
  • Although very recent changes have been made with regard to patient access to laboratory results, Loeb and her husband often struggled to get anxiety-inducing lab results from their physician or EHR portal in a timely manner.
  • Communication errors at transitions of care are the norm and not the exception.
  • When possible, as a patient or as a medical professional, try to be part of an “interdisciplinary” team rather than a “multidisciplinary” team. While both approaches combine knowledge from different areas, in interdisciplinary groups the professionals collaborate within the same room rather than silos.

 

Patient Engagement for the Non-Tech Savvy

Kristina Sheridan, associate department head, systems analysis, design and integration for MITRE, who co-presented with Loeb, pointed out that patient engagement shouldn’t always be in the patient’s hands. In rural populations, or among populations that aren’t tech savvy, providers should equip home health nurses and patient advocates with the tools to pick up the phone and call patients directly.

In the following session, “Building the Foundation to Support New Innovative Encounter Models,” panelists discussed ways to improve patient engagement with EHRs among patient populations that were not tech savvy.

Rob Alger, vice president of health plan business technology solutions and services, Kaiser Permanente, discussed his company’s outreach to dual eligibles—people who are both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries—in Los Angeles County, CA. Dual eligibles are among the sickest people and the most vulnerable population.

“You have to think about engagement in a couple ways,” Alger said. “You do intake, that’s the beginning opportunity of engagement. “…Regardless of modality, bring data to the EMR…It doesn’t matter if it’s a hospice nurse, or it’s a triage nurse on the phone or a diabetes nurse educator,” Alger said.

 

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