News & Views

Media Coverage
12/19/2016

Positive Momentum Toward Person & Family Engagement

By Paul Roscoe, CEO, Docent Health

For the past three decades, significant effort has gone into creating standardized care delivery pathways — evidenced-based, peer-reviewed processes have been established for virtually every clinical condition. Until now, though, there has been no equivalent methodology for the patient in a non-clinical ‘experience’ pathway. It’s been left to individual caregivers to act on their patients’ needs as best they can in the time between clinical touchpoints.

We at Docent Health are encouraged to see that this gap is being identified and targeted as a key capability required to deliver the most impactful and satisfying healthcare to our citizens.

Case in point: last week, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Person and Family Engagement Strategy (PFE) aimed at making patients partners in decisions about their healthcare. Some progressive healthcare organizations have already begun adopting enhanced patient engagement, and CMS has now developed the PFE strategy to share this vision and encourage the entire healthcare community to consider and take action to incorporate the principles into their work practices.

The four main goals of PFS as outlined by CMS are:

Actively encourage person and family engagement along the complete continuum of care and well-being.
Promote tools and strategies to help people actively engage in managing their own care.
Create an environment where persons and their families work cooperatively with providers to develop health and wellness goals.
Develop meaningful measures, tools, best practices, and techniques aimed at improving the experience and care outcomes for persons, caregivers, and families.

Here at Docent Health, we firmly support the PFE initiative and it’s key tenant — focusing on the person as an individual — something not commonly found in the delivery of most care today. Identifying individual needs, preferences and cultural context is the most important step in creating long-term relationships with patients and their families. Whether you’re in a fee-for-service or population health world, building trust and respect while engaging the patient is crucial.

Here’s what’s really interesting: the concepts outlined in PFE are certainly not new. The challenge is in the execution, and CMS attempts to bridge this gap by laying out a clear framework.

What does it take to build a healthcare system that makes patients and their families feel empowered, understood and enfranchised in their care? First, we need to educate patients and their families — information creates choice. We need convenient tools that make it easy — access is still a big barrier and dissatisfier. However, information, tools and access are not enough. This is the tricky part, and where many wellness and engagement programs have fallen flat. True and meaningful communication and engagement require long-lasting and trusted relationships. At Docent Health, we are working with several progressive health systems to thoroughly understand the concerns, fears and preferences of individual patients while designing customized, targeted experiences for each person. We believe that health systems must seek to understand and serve their patients in ways that extend well beyond the clinical.

For healthcare to feel meaningful and connected, we must make our patients feel that we know them, that we hear them, that we value them. These are the cornerstones of a trusted relationship. If we can achieve that, we earn the right to speak with them, to guide them and to influence them to engage in their own well-being.

We’re looking forward to being part of this journey and we applaud CMS for giving the industry this call to action and a map to chart the course.