One important component of the national healthcare investing conference MedCity INVEST in Chicago April 21-22 is patient engagement. Held in collaboration with Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network (MHIN), the event is one of the largest healthcare investor events in the Midwest and draws providers, payers, healthcare executives, traditional and strategic investors across healthcare and life sciences.

In a preview of their discussion at the event, “Patient Engagement in the New Decade“, panelists shared their perspectives on patient engagement and in so doing revealed that it means many things to many people. They also addressed  how their organizations take on the challenge of patient engagement in emailed responses to questions. They include Shreya Kangovi, M.D., Executive Director, Penn Center for Community Health Workers; Elizabeth Schumacher, Patient, CEO and Founder, Affinity Strategies; Cala Health CEO Renee Ryan; and Adnan Iqbal, Luma Health CEO.

Shreya Kangovi, M.D.

For Kangovi, patient engagement is about about putting patients in control.

“Patient engagement is about radically shifting control to patients. Patients truly need to be the ones in the driver’s seat at every stage from designing better ways to deliver healthcare to setting an agenda for their own health.”

Be part of the patient engagement conversation at INVEST. Click here to register using the code MC50 for a ticket discount.

She noted that her organization designed its IMPaCT program based on patient input, interviewing 1,500 patients on porches, homeless shelters, and at the hospital bedside. As Penn Center for Community Health Workers scales it IMPaCT program across the country, community health workers asked each patient what they need in order to improve their health. The responses include getting diabetic test strips, finding stable housing or just social interaction.

“We hire, train and deploy community health workers — trusted laypeople from local communities — to support patients with the real-life issues that often get in the way of health.  They meet patients, get to know them as people and then provide hands-on support with the goals that patients have for themselves.  This can mean planting an urban garden, battling an eviction notice, connecting with an estranged daughter.”

Renee Ryan

Control also figures into Cala Health’s approach, according to Ryan.

“Everything we do supports the patient’s journey to get control of their hand tremors with our Cala Trio wearable neuromodulation therapy.”

Ryan added that patient engagement is fueled by patient empowerment and putting patients at the center of the company’s digital services business model.

Connecting with patients and helping to build meaningful collaborations are important ingredients for Schumacher.

“Identifying and utilizing the right impactful patient voice offers opinions, knowledge and real experience that help solve unique problems or develop brand new solutions. The patient is a champion not only for themselves, but for their condition, their treatments, daily needs and other factors nobody would even understand without that keen insight.”

Elizabeth Schumacher

Schumacher also noted that the patient’s voice is essential.

“I think the most important need is for patients to champion each other. That means sharing your story and helping others facing the same experience understand that they are not alone and have someone to share the experience with. Also important is connecting patient champions with the companies who make their medicines. While a treatment may help with one condition, there may be negative and positive side effects that need to be shared in the drug development process. If that knowledge is not shared, the product may not be as effective as it could be.”

Adnan Iqbal

For Iqbal, patient engagement is about effective patient communication and access.

“We can have as many ‘patient engagement’ teams, solutions, and initiatives as we’d like, but unless we’re actually helping more patients get to the right healthcare with the right provider quickly, we’re missing the mark.”

Asked how the healthcare industry has improved its approach to patient engagement in the past 10 years, Iqbal observed that it’s become a higher priority and more complex than a point solution.

“Patient engagement has gone from an area of interest to a top 3 priority for healthcare decision makers. Second, healthcare decision makers are no longer looking at one-off, point-solution type band-aids to address patient engagement challenges,” said Iqbal. “Rather, we’re seeing clinics and health systems taking a more thorough, holistic approach —demanding an end-to-end patient engagement platform that helps nurture, acquire, guide and retain patients across the entire patient journey. It also needs to be deeply connected with the core EHRs, offer a breadth of touchpoints combined with real clinical depth, and be easy for both patients and staff to use.”

Featured photo: Getty Images

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