Embrace Technology to Educate and Engage Patients

Adam Husney, MD, Chief Executive Officer

As health systems and providers move toward value-based care, they have more incentive to provide the best care at the lowest cost. This aligns patients and providers—keeping people healthy at the lowest cost is good for both patients and systems. But it also highlights the need for providers to go beyond thinking only about treating disease and to work toward engaging patients so they practice healthy preventive behaviors. Such behaviors include things like eating a healthy diet, staying active, stopping smoking, and taking medicines appropriately.


Although clinicians try to communicate clearly with patients, the reality is that patients often don’t understand.

Many patients, especially when they’re under stress from serious health conditions, have trouble understanding information that is complicated and unfamiliar to them. It’s no surprise they can forget up to 80 percent of what they hear from their providers. Even worse, the information they do remember is often remembered incorrectly. How might we communicate with our patients more effectively?

Here’s where technology helps clear things up

In one survey, 95 percent of physicians surveyed reported that, to educate and engage with patients, they were currently using one or more engagement technology tools such as digital waiting room screens, exam room tablets, or mobile apps.

When we deliver patient education in different formats, we’re helping our patients hear, understand, and reinforce messages in a single voice. Wondering where to begin?

Use technology to boost engagement

An EHR-based patient portal is a good place to start. Many EHRs include the functionality that makes it easier for patients to engage with their health outside of a care setting. Patients can log into a secure portal to do things like view visit summaries, see lab results, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and have automatic reminders sent via email or text.

Promote patient education

In the same way clinicians use care plans to deliver high-quality, consistent care to patients, we need to think about educational care plans as an important part of that high-quality care. EHRs can be configured to link diagnoses to health education. Providers can access educational content to deliver via a patient portal or print it to share during a visit. Mapping patient education to clinical care plans makes it more likely you’ll deliver the right information at the right time.

Encourage information sharing

Delivering patient education and documenting those actions automatically in a patient’s electronic health record allows for visibility by the whole care team, including the patient. All information about the patient—including clinical care plans, patient preferences, and patient education—is visible to all clinical providers, who can access the patient record as they work to provide great care.

Patient-centered care is the cornerstone of all care and the kind of care we all aspire to provide. Within the value-based care model and, more specifically, the bundled-care framework, the systems are better aligned to keep the patient in the center of care.

Learn more about mapping patient education to care plans in our eBrief, Succeed With BPCI Advanced—Keep Patients Engaged With Education Across the Care Episode.