Talking the Patients Language
The importance of effective, health literate, patient-centered engagement
White Paper
Nov 20, 2018

This white paper explores evidence that improving patient engagement leads to positive outcomes for all healthcare system stakeholders. The clinical encounter is at the core of patient engagement, supporting and fostering positive health behaviors. This engagement can be amplified by patient support programs designed using the principles of behavior change, adult learning, health literacy and instructional design. Based on multimodal instructional design, such programs can enhance engagement of patients with different learning styles, using a range of modalities – print, video, digital, mobile, or face-to-face training. Behaviorally driven mobile health interventions are of particular interest, potentially offering an interactive channel to address pathways linked to sustained behavior change, although the benefits of faceto-face interaction should not be underestimated.

Introduction: using patient engagement to optimize healthcare outcomes

Effective patient engagement and empowerment – driving patients’ involvement in their own healthcare and decision making – has potential to improve treatment adherence, health outcomes and patient quality of life. However, while engagement is critical for better patient outcomes, as many as 56% of healthcare consumers in the United States show little or no engagement in their health.

Over the past decades, clinical practice has gradually been increasing its focus from an “authoritative/paternal” model to a more “collaborative/consumer” model. This shift often calls on patients as consumers to become more active in their own healthcare decisions, and to move from “adherence” to “self-management” where they have a full understanding and belief in their treatment plan. As the number of chronic disease patients is growing significantly across the world, the healthcare industry has responded to the call for increased “patient engagement,” with governments also supporting this trend.

This response aligns with a growing body of evidence demonstrating that patient-reported and quality outcomes and patient experience are improved when patients become more actively involved in their own healthcare.

The rise in patient engagement activities represents a shift in approach within the current values and outcomes era. This increase in patient engagement accompanies the changes in long-term disease prevalence and therapies, an aging population, the presence in individuals of multiple chronic medical conditions (multimorbidity), simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single ailment or condition (polypharmacy), and cancer increasingly becoming a long-term condition rather than a terminal disease.


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