“Patient empowerment is a living, breathing, evolving thing. It looks different for each of us, and it can change with time and by disease and severity. Patients are invariably the hub of our own healthcare, and our buy-in and partnership is essential to make the wheels spin.” Wise words. Not from a big IT company, health IT policymaker or health system executive, but from patient, Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 29.Emily’s words, spoken onstage at the ONC’s 2014 Consumer IT Summit, hit an all-too-familiar cord of frustration that keeps so many of us up at night – striking the balance between consistency and complexity, humanity and technology. While answers may be elusive, examining patient experience from pre-visit to post-discharge can shed light on how healthcare providers can edge toward a more personalized, yet streamlined patient engagement regimen.What might patient engagement before, during and after care look like from an IT perspective? John Sharp, Senior Manager of Consumer Health IT at HIMSS, provided a few tactical examples of what he’s seen in today’s health system:

BEFORE
– Provide online education including videos on upcoming procedures
– Pre-register patients for a visit via a patient portal
– Have patients complete electronic health status questionnaire

DURING
– Provide a medication list during a hospitalization
– Train patient and family caregivers on how to sign up for and use patient portals
– Provide discharge instructions through the patient portal for home review

AFTER
– Provide appointment reminders via patient portal, mobile devices
– Provide a way to request prescription refills
– Provide patient education on conditions, especially post-procedure instructions

By Michael Gaspar
Program Manager, Social Media at HIMSS Media