NeHC continues engagement push

Empowerment of consumers is 'blockbuster drug of the century,' says Mostashari

One week after unveiling its Patient Engagement Framework, the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) has launched an online tool meant to help health organizations track their progress on involving patients in their care.

The NeHC Consumer eHealth Readiness Tool (CeRT) offers an organizational evaluation tool, real-time progress reports and a comprehensive resource library designed to gauge the strength of organizations' engagement activities and help them prioritize their plans for improvement, officials say.

"The NeHC CeRT is a concrete resource created to help healthcare organizations measure and grow their patient engagement strategies," said NeHC CEO Kate Berry. "We hope the Patient Engagement Framework in combination with the NeHC CeRT will raise visibility and build awareness for the importance of consumer engagement and help the industry make progress in this direction."

NeHC has partnered with Farmington, Conn.-based consumer engagement company HealthCAWS to bring the technology to the market.

As meaningful use Stage 2 fuels a drive toward patient empowerment, the Web-based tool is meant as a cost-effective business intelligence solution for organizations seeking help to accelerate their consumer engagement efforts, officials say  -  offering a structure and support for organizations to measure their progress over time and a resource library to spur development of innovative new initiatives.

It's aimed at an array of organizations, including health systems, provider groups, hospitals, health plans, health information exchanges, regional extension centers and more.

Increasing consumer engagement is a strategic move that cultivates consumer loyalty and increases an organization's competitive advantage in addition to improving health outcomes and, NeHC officials note, it can also be profitable. In addition to being mapped to the phases of the NeHC Patient Engagement Framework, the NeHC CeRT is also aligned with meaningful use consumer engagement criteria and several accountable care incentive programs.

"It has been exciting to work with the NeHC team and their many colleagues to advance consumer engagement in eHealth," said Rose Maljanian, founder and CEO of HealthCAWS. "Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT, said it best when he commented at a recent meeting that 'consumer engagement is the blockbuster drug of the century.'  As an industry, we need to focus our resources on programs and tools that encourage our patients to maintain their personal best health, avoid unnecessary care and partner closely with their providers to achieve the best possible outcomes."