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Laurie Ringlein 

Health IT tools that intuitively encourage consumer activation are a critical component of a successful patient engagement strategy.

Consumers of all ages are becoming empowered and perpetually connected in all aspects of their lives.

We see it in the grocery store, on an airplane, at children’s’ soccer games, and shockingly even while driving. This tells us that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage connectedness to engage consumers with businesses every day.

Engaging with consumers is especially important for healthcare organizations because of the exponentially positive impact on consumer behavior and experience, as well as expense, which more active engagement can produce.

There are many pressing needs for consumers to engage with their healthcare providers and health plans and many potential benefits that can be derived from higher levels of engagement including leveraging engagement to influence consumer behavior that improves health and correspondingly reduces cost of care, sharing knowledge to help consumers be increasingly literate and more capable healthcare consumers, and increasing engagement over time to dramatically impact behavior change, satisfaction, and experience.

Four steps for developing patient engagement and consumer activation

Research tells us that there are some guiding principles for organizations when using technology to improve consumer engagement. First, keep it simple. There is no greater guiding principle to follow when designing a consumer engagement strategy than simplicity.

Asking patients to utilize technology pushed to them that is not instantly intuitive, or that requires an investment in training to use competently, will be a disadvantage in the engagement game. Think about how many Generation X parents ask their teenage children for help with their smart devices. Keep it simple so that they can do it on their own without intervention.

Next, meet consumers where they are. Have accessible technology in place that is device agnostic and available in their hand or pocket.  Patients shouldn’t have to go out of their way to look for engagement opportunities. Take advantage of their wait time while in line at the grocery store, waiting for a movie to start, or sitting in their doctor’s office to help them check things off of their healthcare to-do list.