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Louisiana shares lessons learned from a year of patient engagement work

The state has already achieved a marked increase in people using its patient portal and HIE. One big surprise: Its most active patients turned out to be the ones widely considered least interested in technology. 
By Tom Sullivan
02:21 PM
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Louisiana patient engagement

Jamie Martin of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum

Louisiana launched a patient engagement campaign a little more than a year ago. Along the way, the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum found a few tactics for success that any healthcare provider should heed: Start small, know that certain demographics might surprise you and don’t merely presume the tech-savvy 18-24-year olds in your patient population will come to you.

The state's patient portal in particular achieved a tremendous increase in use, according to Jamie Martin, marketing and communications manager for the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum — as did patient awareness of the statewide health information exchange. Very few states can say that.

"We are opt-in, so for us this was an important goal," said Martin. "We wanted consumers to know what the HIE is, what it does and why they need to opt in. We were ultimately very pleased with the results."

Those results? The program already earned a 28 percent spike in the number of Louisianans tapping health technologies to better manage their health.

Other achievements Martin highlighted include a 9 percent increase in patients who have up-to-date copies of their health data, a 12 percent uptick in patients requesting access to their health record, and a 26 percent spike in awareness of the Louisiana Health Information Exchange, LaHIE.

"For a state that is traditionally at the bottom of healthcare rankings across the board, we are very excited about these results and continue to monitor them so we can try to gauge the impact on outcomes," Martin said. 

Martin added that the biggest surprise during the last twelve months was the demographic that became most active. LHCQF’s direct-to-consumer initiative, in fact, garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from senior citizens.

"I went into the campaign with the misconception that seniors were not going to be interested in health IT because they were perhaps not as tech savvy as younger audiences," said Martin. "I could not have been more wrong."

Indeed, among all the people LHCQF aimed its campaign at, seniors were not only the most receptive but also the most vocal about wanting 24-hour secure access to their data, Martin said.

"Since then, I've heard lots of people in our health IT world suggest that seniors are the least likely to engage in health IT, and I'm the first one to argue against that idea," Martin said. "Truly, a valuable lesson learned."

Another lesson Martin shared: Just because 18-24 year olds are very comfortable with technology doesn’t automatically mean they’ll rush to check out the patient portal or the HIE. Martin noted that with strategic messaging and outreach specific to people that age, LHFCQ could really spark utilization of health-centric technologies in that population.

She added that targeting those people is something to strive for in the future, as is ramping up the state’s efforts to get even more people using the HIE.

Martin advised that other providers embarking on patient engagement efforts should start by understanding the challenges that exist, learning about the audience you intend to reach, and crafting a practical approach that will make a difference.

"You know the old adage about how a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step?" Martin said. "When it comes to patient engagement efforts, even a small step can yield tremendous results."

Martin and her colleague Nadine Robin, LHCQF health IT program director, will be presenting at HIMSS17 on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 2:30-3:30 pm in room 304E. The session is titled The Patient's Perspective on Patient Engagement: One Year Later.

HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.


This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.