CHICAGO — In an era of value-based care, patients’ involvement in and commitment to their care is crucial.

“The more engaged a patient is…the lower their costs are to the health system,” said Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health advisor with strategic health consultancy THINK-Health. In a HIMSS conference session, Sarasohn-Kahn cited research by Health Affairs which found that patients who are less engaged in their care had costs 8 to 21 percent higher than patients who were more engaged.

While there’s no easy formula for driving patient engagement, establishing trust is a first step. “Trust and authenticity are precursors to engagement,” said Sarasohn-Kahn.

If trust is the first step to engagement, hospitals and physicians may have serious competition. According to a report by Strategy& and PwC, 40 percent of patients surveyed reported they trust large retailers with their health. Thirty-nine percent of patients said they trust providers, and 38 percent said they trust digitally enabled companies, like Google or Amazon.

Why did so many patients trust nontraditional providers?

“They trust them to receive quality care at a lower cost,” said Sarasohn-Kahn. “This is a light bulb moment for our industry.”

How do providers gain the same level of trust consumers have in companies like Wal-Mart or Amazon?

Take cues from the retail approach. For example, consider how your services fit into a patient’s daily life, not a provider’s.

“It’s about designing around the patient life flow. The provider of course has a workflow we can’t disrupt in the wrong way, but if we want to engage, we need to think in the retail environment,” she said.

Sarasohn-Kahn also recommends mirroring the social media efforts of large retailers by adding a “social booster” to patient engagement efforts. “Health is social…Patients use social every day, and they want you to be there.”