Opinions + Insight

Engaging Consumers Makes For Better Care Coordination

“Consumer engagement” is a buzzy term bandied about in industries from packaged goods to tourism to media and more. But in the MLTSS world, consumer engagement is a central strategy for lowering costs and improving outcomes as well as the consumer experience.

Judith Hibbard and Jessica Greene describe engagement in the journal Health Affairs as a form of activation: skills and confidence that equip patients to become actively involved in their health care. The move to a value-based model of care that focuses on health, wellness and clinical outcomes involves building a truly collaborative partnership with the consumer and encouraging an ongoing dialogue.

Deloitte Center for Health Care Solutions calls it a matter of transitioning “passive patients and purchasers” to “active health care consumers.” Their summary underscores the provider’s role in educating consumers and their families. But getting consumers more invested in managing their own care actually means talking less and listening more. That may require a cultural shift across the provider organization as well as new processes and procedures to translate feedback into better-coordinated care.

Being a lifelong member of the advocacy community, I have made many efforts to utilize technology to engage consumers. The more progressive health plans around the country are investigating ways to leverage social media to supplement learning from CAHPS and other surveys. Centers for Independent Living are also leading the community by making access to online resources free and convenient.

This is not to say you won’t get pushback. Getting a consumer’s inner circle on board is vitally important for closing the feedback loop but occasionally family members are resistant to their loved ones taking on a bigger role in managing their own care. Elderly consumers, consumers with physical disabilities and caretakers are very protective of their privacy, and are sometimes reluctant to allow outsiders to look in.

And even with stakeholder buy-in, it can be a fine line between texted reminders, for example, being viewed as motivational or perceived as nagging. However, access has proven to be a two-way street, with community based organizations bridging the divide, helping to establish and build trust to provide an accurate and consistent consumer input and insights.

I’ll be addressing these issues and more with specific examples and case studies during my informational session on “Improving Quality Through Consumer-Focused Care Management” at The 2017 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovations Institute June 6-7, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. I hope to see you there.

Onward!

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