As fall waits for summer to pull out of its seasonal parking spot, the kiddos begin school and the weather gets milder. Football beckons. Pumpkins become a thing again. And the fall trade shows, conferences and seminars abound like leaves on the lawn. Poetic, right??
Healthcare trade shows are what we do, so we see a lot of the agendas, seminars and keynotes offered at conferences across the country. Looking through the programs of some upcoming healthcare trade events, it’s hard not to notice the prevalence of recurring subjects among the offered courses. The old saying goes: “If it weren’t important, people wouldn’t talk about it so much and make CEU courses about it.” Socrates was right on the money. Stuff that’s relevant is what’s on everyone’s mind, and Patient Engagement is, well, engaging everyone.
What caused patient engagement to become a staple on every conference agenda? All of the session descriptions and topics point to three key drivers:
1. Practices got busier than a bottle of mustard trying to ketchup.
Somewhere amidst getting practices ready for EHRs, learning the new ICD-10 codes, and oh yeah, that recent fundamental shift in our healthcare system, healthcare providers got really busy. And that increased volume means that resources are spread thinner than ever before. Now in addition to serving patients, there are all these other initiatives. How can anyone keep four different things as their top priority?
2. Patients are making the healthcare bus wheels go round.
Patients have more knowledge of healthcare, pre-diagnosing themselves via smartphone applications, researching drugs and treatments, tracking their own health stats and generally becoming better-informed patients. As a result, expectations are raised in terms of care quality, partly because patients have more visibility into their treatments. Additionally, patient satisfaction is now tied to the Physician Quality Reporting System via the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, so providers are now more deeply vested in keeping patients activated and engaged.
3. Noise has gotten noisier.
As our reliance and evolving fascination with technology grows, so does the ‘noise.’ Just take a peek into a practice waiting room: patients are making phone calls, texting, e-mailing, posting, tweeting, pinning, vining and streaming. Somewhere in that mix practices have to keep them informed, compliant and healthy. A vital function of patient engagement is winning the ongoing battle for their attention and focus.
It’s no wonder so many CEUs can be earned via courses and seminars on Patient Engagement. It’s a big deal because the forces behind it have pushed it to the forefront. And it’s a good thing. At the end of the day patient engagement helps physicians, practice administrators, support staff and healthcare vendors support the end goal: healthier, happier patients.