Patient engagement tips from the pros

'We'll be able to tailor our approach'
By Erin McCann
06:59 AM
Chanin Wendling

Looking to move forward with a patient engagement initiative? Best to talk with the folks who have been ahead of the game for some time.

Geisinger Health System's Chanin Wendling is one of those people. Wendling, the director of Geisinger in Motion in the applied research and clinical informatics division, has been spearheading patient engagement initiatives since late 2010.

We're talking using iPads, text messaging appointment reminders, patient portals and mobile apps for lumbar spine surgeries, all with the common goal of improving care by better connecting with patients.

Healthcare IT News caught up with Wendling to hear her advice and lessons learned that could be offered up for other organizations embarking on a similar trajectory. One of the biggest tips, she extended?

"The key to our success is partnering with the clinical team," she said. "We do not go off and do anything in a vacuum."

One of the key clinical relationships Wendling and her team have is with Jonathan Slotkin, MD, a neurosurgeon at the health system, who teamed up with Wendling to boost patient engagement levels specifically as it relates to lumbar spine surgery. 

[Learn more: Meet the speakers at the Patient Engagement Summit.] 

Both Wendling and Slotkin will be speaking at the HIMSS Media Patient Engagement Summit October 12 in San Diego to talk lessons learned and on "taking patient engagement further to the next level," Wendling said.

As Slotkin described of their efforts, they first went for the "low hanging fruit," that is the in-office deployment of mobile devices for administering the formal outcomes questionnaires. 

After that, they decided to take on patient education by including video animation and interactive material in addition to patient scheduling functions with date sensitive content delivery. In the 90 and 120 days following spinal surgery, patients were given an iPad pre-populated with these digital education materials in addition to the formal outcomes surveys.

Ninety days following surgery, "the device will prompt that patient to fill out those surveys, and it was wirelessly transmitted to our database," Slotkin explained. The devices were a huge success in collecting these responses, but shortly after the health system received notification from CMS that they could no longer give these devices to Medicare and Medicaid patients, which eventually shifted Slotkin and Wendling's attention to a BYOD strategy.

"Our strategy is really focusing on having the tools to be able to cater to each person so we'll be able have preferences," added Wendling. "We'll be able to understand what motivates (the patients)…and we'll be able to tailor our approach."


Here's what happened

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