Watch out, baby boomers—millennials are on track this year to overtake you as America’s largest generation, according to recent research by the Pew Research Center. These young adults, who will range in age from 23 to 38 in 2019, are positioned to make healthcare decisions for themselves, their own growing families and their aging parents.
Topics: Patient Engagement
Imagine you are one of the 1.1 million people about to have a joint replacement this year. Your doctor gave you information during your pre-op visit but you were so busy worrying about your recovery and how you would manage your daily responsibilities, that you missed a lot of the details. Your husband took some notes but he was also overwhelmed at the thought of you being off your feet for 6 weeks. You’ve been doing the best you can with what you remember of your care instructions and you’re hoping for a successful outcome.
Now imagine, instead, that you started to receive care instructions and check-ins from your surgeon after that first pre-op visit. The information helped you remember what your doctor said, reminded you what you need to know at every point in this process (which can be more than six months from pre-op through recovery) and eased your anxiety.
That level of engagement is known as patient activation – the act of energizing a person to manage his or her own health and healthcare with knowledge, skills and confidence. Patient activation is associated with better post-surgical outcomes, including a 40% decrease in 30-day readmissions and 21% lower care costs in the year after surgery.
Hospitals are making that impact even stronger by employing what is referred to as direct patient activation – motivating patients with regular, targeted mobile connections delivered through push messaging.
When my daughter was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. At the office visit, the doctor told me, simply, “Avoid ethnic foods,” and scooted me out the door. I left—scared, anxious and thinking there had to be more information that I needed to know. I immediately searched Dr. Google for answers (and changed pediatricians).
Every interaction that patients have with their doctors, nurses and others in the hospital—whether in-person or online—makes an impression. Are you paying attention to what matters to ensure that your impression is a positive, long-lasting one?
In our personal lives, Americans have grown used to giving up personal information to technology in exchange for convenience. We manage passwords using smartphone keychain and apps. We share our emails, phone numbers and birthdays to get store coupons. We save our credit cards in online shopping carts.
As healthcare professionals, however, we are cautious—fearful, even—of dealing in personal information because of the 5-letter abbreviation that looms over our work: HIPAA.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, became law in 2002 and was designed to protect the private information of patients and to make sure they are well informed about their choices and their consent for those choices.
Yet even as far back as 2003, HIPAA recognized the need to balance patient privacy and efficiency for healthcare providers. In fact, HIPAA makes digital patient engagement, education and care management easier than you may think.