Providers are skilled at caring for patients in the clinical setting, but when the patient returns home, often a disconnect occurs. To improve outcomes, patient engagement efforts seek to close that gap by having providers develop an ongoing partnership with the patient and his or her family and by having them participate fully in care decisions.

More than two-thirds of Most Wired organizations and half of all hospitals surveyed engage with the patient and his or her family through the Internet outside of the clinical setting: exchanging emails with the care team, introducing the patient and the family to the care environment, and reviewing educational materials provided during a visit.

Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor created a new specialty discharge process known as Smooth Transitions Against Readmission. “The ‘Star’ program tries to ensure that inpatients have the resources and information available during and after discharge in support of overall well-being, improved satisfaction and a decrease in readmissions,” says Chris McCollum, chief information officer.

Checklist for Partnering with Patients and Families

  • Create a single, easy-to-use patient portal/health record that includes all providers (primary care and specialists) involved in the patient’s care.
  • Give the care team and patient access to the patient’s health record.
  • Integrate data and analytics across the continuum of care for all services and conditions affecting a patient's health.
  • Share information and decision-making for mutual responsibility and accountability among the patient, the family and the care team.
  • Customize information and communication for the health care literacy level of the patient and his or her family.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate diverse backgrounds in patient communications.
  • Focus on the usefulness of the patient portal: understandable test results, easy-to-use prescription refill request, secure messaging and high-quality patient education materials.

Percentage of hospitals and health systems engaging with the patient and family through the Internet in a nonclinical setting 
  All Most Wired  
Exchange secure emails with the care team members 51% 69%  
Introduce the patient and family to the care environment 54% 67%  
Review the educational and other materials provided to the patient and family during a visit 50% 66%  
Use videos to educate the patient and family about lab tests and when available, the results 37% 50%  
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks' Most Wired Survey, 2015