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Planning a Successful Patient Engagement Strategy

On social media and at events like HIMSS, we hear a lot of discussion about this new trend called patient engagement. While there are certainly new tools to help an organization engage the patient, I don’t think it’s fair to say that patient engagement is a new strategy. Patient engagement has always been considered a good thing in practices and healthcare organizations.

The challenge is that we’ve never rewarded those who actually did engage the patient. Healthcare reimbursement has actually discouraged patient engagement despite providers natural desire to want to engage the patient. Every doctor I know would love to sit down with a patient for an hour and really engage them in their health. Unfortunately, we don’t pay them to do this.

While I don’t think we’ll see an over night transition to hour long visits with our doctors, the move to value based reimbursement will finally start rewarding providers who engage deeply with their patients.

The next question doctors should ask is where to start when it comes to patient engagement in this changing landscape. This whitepaper on 5 Elements of a Successful Patient Engagement Strategy would be a good place to start. It provides a realistic strategy for your organization to consider.

The whitepaper also has this great quote from Leonard Kish:

“If patient engagement were a drug, it would be the blockbuster drug of the century and malpractice not to use it.”

Those practices that choose to not have a patient engagement strategy are going to fall behind. This won’t be an issue right away, but it will catch up to many practices who don’t see the coming change.

April 2, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Health Sensors Panel at SXSW

If you’ve been following @ehrandhit on Twitter, then you know that I’ve spent the past few days at the SXSW conference in Austin. It’s been quite the experience and I’ll no doubt write a lot more about my experience at the conference. For now, let’s take a look at many of the top takeaways from the health sensors panel.

While this doesn’t necessarily apply to sensors, I found it interesting that only 5 people raised their hands when asked who in the audience were patients. It’s kind of a stupid question since we’re all patients. I think most of us that heard the question assumed he meant patient advocate or possibly chronic patient. At least I bet that the 5 that raised their hands fit into those categories. Someone on Twitter said that maybe it’s because many of us don’t see ourselves as patients since we’re “healthy.”

Fascinating to consider all the data that our brain is processing. Plus, it should give us hope for what is possible with sensors. Needless to say, we have a long way to go.

This is really sad to consider and applies to many diseases. I think they’re point was that sensors can help us get at some of these diseases.

I’d never consider integrating environmental sensors in your healthcare. Those sensors could be indicators of why our health suffers. Interesting idea.

Seriously amazing technology…assuming it really works. I love people trying even if it doesn’t work out.

This was an important takeaway from my time at the mHealth Summit. We need new study methodologies that match the speed with which we can collect data using sensors and other tech.

I can’t wait for data to point out when we’re lying to ourselves and others.

People always say the wrong thing about Watson. At least right now, it’s not diagnosing. It’s just assisting and supporting the diagnosis.

This is definitely true and we haven’t even started to tap into the health data that’s possible. We’re going to need some amazing technology created to be able to make sense and filter the data down to only what matters.

It’s amazing how important the context is to the data. This is part of the challenge with the Watson technology and the volume of data mentioned above.

This is a fascinating differentiation. I think we’ll see this start to merge over time, but it is interesting to consider the various types of sensors and their intended use. I think until now we’ve focused mostly on sensors for disease. The idea of sensors for health is still such a nascent field of study.

March 13, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

@HealthcareWen (Dr. Wen Dombrowski) – #HITsm Spotlight

I thought it would be fun to get to know some of the various personalities in the #HITsm community. @HealthcareWen is one of the great ones. With HIMSS 2013 started today, I think it’s perfect timing to highlight Dr. Wen. There is no one better to follow than her if you want to learn what she’s learning at HIMSS.


I love the intersection of technology, business, policy, healthcare & social services. I enjoy figuring out high-level policy and strategic business goals, and then translating them into operational processes and product designs. I’m always thinking about “what is the best way to leverage technology?” for each situation, but realize that technology alone is usually an insufficient solution.


Lately I’ve been working on several small projects while completing a Global Executive MBA program at IE Business School — a program I highly recommend to others, by the way. I’m working with a hospice and homecare agency on EHR vendor selection and culture change to value decisions based on real-time data. I’m advising several medical software startups on product development—particularly on issues related to user experience, data structure, and strategy. I’m also helping several large nonprofit organizations that serve seniors and other underserved populations with understanding and adapting their strategy to the implications of healthcare reform, data availability, technology, and social media. And ever since Hurricane Sandy, I’ve been actively discussing how can technology and new media be leveraged to better prepare and respond to future emergencies with various community based organizations, government representatives, and medical providers.

Additionally, I see patients part-time by doing house calls. I love house calls because one can reach the sickest of patients – the patients who have the toughest time getting to their doctors’ offices. Seeing how patients live provides important clues about barriers to health and ways to personalize solutions. House calls and technology may seem like an odd combination of interests, but as Atul Gawande’s Hot Spotters article pointed out, the two complement each other in the goal to help the highest risk patients.


I’ve been on Facebook casually for years, mostly to share vacation and hobby photos with my family and to keep in touch with old friends.

I joined LinkedIn a couple years ago and it has been an invaluable tool to keep in touch with and find professional contacts. The search tool is especially useful when I am looking for people with specific expertise or geographic base. There are many interesting discussion Groups on LinkedIn, but I haven’t had time lately to read and interact with them.

Meetup has likewise been a useful site to find and create local affinity groups for in-person networking.

I didn’t consider myself “active” on social media until I started to actively use Twitter. I began using Twitter in 2011 to raise public awareness of the need for innovation in healthcare delivery, payment policy, patient engagement, and senior services. There seemed to be a lack of understanding about healthcare and aging, so I wanted to share some ideas as food for thought about tough topics.


When I first started using Twitter, I really wasn’t expecting to get much out of it – I thought it would just be a chore to find and broadcast an article every once in a while. But then I realized it’s an incredibly powerful tool to find and engage other people that are likeminded or have different perspectives. It amazes me how Twitter brings together strangers and disparate stakeholders (such as patients, clinicians, technologists, and business executives) to dialogue about the evolving challenges of healthcare, technology, and society.

Personally, I have learned so much from the Twitter community – about topics that I was already passionate about – and introducing me to “new” concepts such as crowdsourcing, open data, and social enterprise. I love how Twitter enables serendipitous discovery of new gems, and appreciate the generosity of my Twitter friends who forward me interesting articles.

Beyond sharing articles and conversations, I’ve seen how Twitter and LinkedIn have been vital at connecting people with needs to relevant resources. For example, I remember the day after Hurricane Sandy I was volunteering in a shelter – the most needed item was dry socks, so I tweeted about it; I was stunned to learn an hour later someone anonymously dropped off a box of hundreds of brand new socks. This is just one small example of the larger potential that social media has to share info and resources.
Twitter and LinkedIn have also led to the unexpected benefits of job offers, project collaborators, and speaking engagements. So Social Media has been indispensably valuable to me personally and professionally.


Lack of true data interoperability among different EHR’s and other healthcare applications is a key problem hindering health innovation and creating wasteful spending. Also, managed care utilization data, user-generated sensor data, and genomic data haven’t been integrated with provider clinical data. I think real-time, user-friendly views that combine these data sources are needed to optimize day-to-day clinical decisions, long term business planning, and operationalizing new payment models such as ACO’s.

Besides data interoperability and integration, usability and workflow are super-important in health I.T. but often neglected by vendors. EHR’s, patient apps, and other software programs need to be designed with a user interface that is intuitive and convenient to use. Any software or technology implementation needs to consider the impact on workflow and redesign processes to avoid new bottlenecks.


I think there is potential for some mobile health apps to be very useful to patients and physicians. However, most physicians and patients find it overwhelming to choose the “best” app for their patient’s situation. There are too many apps right now that do similar things, or only have a partial set of features, or only target one specific disease. If a patient has Crohn’s, diabetes, and headaches – what is the best app for him? App developers should think about how to make apps better than what already exists by including comprehensive features that are easy to use for patients, caregivers, and providers… this may mean partnering with and enhancing existing products instead of separately developing the 101st medication tracker app, pain tracker app, diet app, etc.


Contrary to popular misconception, age is not the biggest barrier to technology adoption: usability is. Software and physical products need to be intuitive, user-friendly, and make people’s lives easier by solving real problems. Technology needs to integrate into the “workflow” of people’s daily lives, or else it’s a nuisance to use. Some special considerations when designing for older adults is keeping in mind some may have trouble with limited vision, tactile sense, or physical range of motion. These don’t preclude older adults from using technology – if technology is designed with these users in mind. I think companies designing for seniors have a lot to learn from the field of developmental disabilities that has a long tradition of inventing assistive technology. The good news is that increasingly more companies are taking human centered design approaches more seriously.


I would change the way that healthcare gets paid for so that good care gets rewarded. Instead of paying hospitals for how many tests and surgeries are done, payments should reflect smart clinical decision making and coordination of care.

I would also love to see different data sources integrated into one application that can display the data in ways that are meaningful to different users, e.g. data views for patients, clinicians, and administrative users.


I hope policymakers, administrators, and developers always keep in mind the end-users’ needs and perspective (whether that’s a patient, caregiver, clinician, or anyone else).

March 4, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

#HITsm and #hcsm Highlights Around Twitter – Healthcare and Social Media

If you are avid follower of the #HITsm Chats, you probably noticed it was MIA this week, and also will be next week. So, instead, here are a few interesting tweets I found from doing a search for #HITsm and #hcsm on Twitter. I highly recommend doing that every once in awhile…there’s some pretty interesting information to be found. With that, here are some of the highlights I found from those searches (it was hard to pick just a couple!) I saw a lot about social media, so I thought I’d focus on that today.

This is a really fascinating article. Did you know that 90 percent of people ages 18-24 trust health information found on social media? Kind of scary in some ways, since, well, there’s definitely some incorrect information out there. It also puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of those that do provide the information, to make sure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and informative. To be honest, I sometimes trust sites like WebMD more than my own doctor! Social media and mobile devices are here to stay in the healthcare world, that’s for sure. I think this article gives some good information on the pros and cons, as well as how healthcare providers can benefit, which brings me to the next post…

Well, this is the opposite of what I read (and preach) a lot. A waste of time? The previous article talked about how it can be very beneficial for healthcare providers. The main arguments are that there is no return on investment (ROI), it can be dangerous when it adds to the likelihood of a doctor being burnt out, and it’s just a fad that is going to blow over and isn’t worth investing time, unless you have a lot of time and want it to be a hobby, or your company has products and services the customer pays for. I don’t agree with these statements, and believe that it is worth putting the time and effort into…but I suppose only time will tell which side of the fence is correct.

Aren’t patients the most crucial aspect to any healthcare provider? So empowering them is so important, and this article talks about how social media is doing just that. It has five ways it empowers patience, which, in a nut shell, are:

  1. Connecting people suffering from a disease or ailment with others…so basically, helping people not feel so alone in their health struggles, and get support from others that “get it.”
  2. Patients can learn about different treatment options and about medical devices more easily. When a person just relies on their doctor for information, some of these options can be overlooked (and often are.)
  3. Patient’s who like being self-advocates are likely to become community advocates as well
  4. Patient’s are given a “voice” to talk about their experiences and thoughts
  5. There are social networks dedicated to certain diseases or conditions.

And finally, this doesn’t have anything to do with the other tweets I’ve mentioned, but it made me laugh. The sledding blogger on the far left looks familiar, doesn’t he?

December 22, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Social Networking Your Way to Better Healthcare Business Relationships

With everyone walking around with a smartphone or tablet, tweeting, updating, posting, sharing quite possibly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the time has never been better – it’s never been easier – to jump into social networking. And looking at it from the healthcare perspective, there has never been a better time to share ideas, give opinions, pontificate, or sound off on the variety of healthcare issues we have to talk about today.

The opportunity is better than ever to create thought leadership by starting or joining in online conversations, and personal branding is easier than ever before in terms of tools available to help you spread your message and increase your exposure.

So with that being said, I’ll share a bit of my story as to how I’ve used social networking to create a personal brand, and open myself up to opportunities and business relationships that I might otherwise not have been exposed to.

My favorite social network is Twitter. I like it because it’s quick – 140 characters seems to be about my limit. I was very late to the Facebook party, and got on it only because at the time I couldn’t manage a brand page without a personal account. I still think Facebook can be a major time waster, and so I use it only to share news of my family with other family members and close friends.

Anyhow, my Twitter addiction really started during my second maternity leave. I spent a lot of time in a rocking chair, figuring out how to keep up with my professional colleagues while I was out of the corporate loop. I began to gain a small following, began doing the mommy blog thing, and went to a networking event or to just to keep myself relevant.

When I went back to working full time, my boss was gracious enough to go with my idea of using Twitter as part of our B2B healthcare marketing program. And this is where my brief story gets somewhat tangled, because at this point, my personal and professional social networking became very intertwined. I had my personal Twitter account, two business accounts, two Facebook pages, and personal and corporate LinkedIn accounts to manage.

At first I was what you’d consider a lurker. I hung out on Twitter and in various LinkedIn healthcare groups just to see how they worked, what the rules of etiquette were. Then as I got more confident in my knowledge of the industry, I began participating – posting comments, responding to people’s tweets, hoping that I sounded knowledgeable. And my following continued to grow. I began noticing that as I started sharing more healthcare-related content, more healthcare-related folks started following me.

I have a journalism degree from the University of Georgia, so I was creating blogs and articles for Porter Research and Billian’s HealthDATA, and sharing them out through my professional and personal social accounts, which also gave me some street cred. Eventually, I had unsolicited offers to blog for I jumped on that because it lets me flex my writing muscles, and reach an audience I might not otherwise get in front of. My activity, and especially my consistency within healthcare social networking continues to open up opportunities for me.

Now, all this wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t love what I’m doing. I love the opportunity social networking affords me to educate myself about healthcare, and especially to turn online relationships into real-life encounters.

So, as I mentioned, I have a favorite social network, and I believe one of the keys to successful social networking is using the platform that best aligns with your goals and desired audience – the social network that suits your tastes. Start with one that best suits you, your goals and the audience you’re trying to reach. Whether you’re just trying to educate yourself about a certain part of your industry, looking to connect with peers and other thought leaders, or perhaps even looking for new opportunities, make sure the social network lines up with your objectives. Start small, be consistent in your approach and in the folks you correspond with.  You’ll notice your personal brand evolving, almost organically.

November 6, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

EMR Notes, EMR Data Visualization, Amazon EC2, and Amazing Facebook EMR Integration

It’s time again for a roundup of interesting EMR tweets. The last one is a doozy and an amazing reason to keep up on Twitter (or at least read this site…We follow tweets so you don’t have to!).

This is a sad thing to say about EMR notes. Although, I think that this tweet is a small part of a larger “revolt” against many of the cookie cutter, little value notes that are produced by many EMR software. Change is afoot in this regard, but it will take some time to get there.

I love when a company takes on EMR data visualization. We need to discover much better, more efficient ways for healthcare practitioners to be able to process increasing amounts of health data. I hope that Restful Health is successful. Plus, they’re right that doing it from multiple health data sources is much harder.

Is Amazon EC2 HIPAA compliant? I can think of some ways to get it there, but they require a whole lot of encryption to make it happen. I expect most don’t go to this effort. Thoughts?

This was a fascinating tweet for me. Far too many people mention Facebook and EMR or PHR and start to freak out. What an amazing idea to use Facebook and other social or web sources to inform the care that’s provided to a patient. I’m sure that many people will hop all over this talking about privacy issues, but I’d rather deal with those issues than deal with a patient that’s lying is causing them not to get the care they need. I wonder what other ways the web and social media could inform patient care.

October 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Highlights from Ed Marx Hospital CIO Strategy Talk at #CHIME12

I was really excited when I found out that Ed Marx’s, CIO of Texas Health Resources, talk at CHIME 2012 was one of the encore presentations since I’d missed it earlier in the week. Thankfully he didn’t disappoint. Here are some tweets I sent during his talk with some additional commentary on what he said.

I loved his comment on the need for hospitals to have a strategy when it comes to mobile health. He acknowledged that even with a strategy in place it’s a pretty crazy environment right now, but he said that he couldn’t imagine where they’d be if they had no strategy. It’s a good acknowledgement that mobile health is here to stay and it’s better to have a proactive approach to mobile health.

Great advice. Far too often I see people trying to swing for the fences instead of being happy with a single. Many hospital organizations could use a quick win for morale sake. Then, with that confidence they can work on the bigger, longer term goals.

There are a lot of ways to learn. Ed Marx pointed out that every hospital CIO should be on social media. I’d argue that the reason they should be on social media is to learn. Learn from customers. Learn from colleagues. Twitter is an amazing platform for learning and listening. You don’t have to broadcast on social media if you don’t want.

I love the transparency that Ed strives to achieve. Putting your performance review for all to read is a brave choice. Although, he made a good point. His performance review wasn’t just a reflection of him, but was a reflection of the entire organization in many ways.

Such a great way to describe the idea of getting out of the office and working with people from other departments. The challenge with this is that many people aren’t very good at this type of social interaction. Some people have this naturally, but others have to work really hard to make it happen. This type of description can help some who have this challenge I think.

I was amazed that he said this was the most important thing. I’ve always loved the value of looking to multiple sources for inspiration. Very important and useful!

Ed suggested that most CIO’s could identify the CEO’s top priority, but not the top 10.

I think it’s true that many hospital CIO’s live in partial fear for their jobs. I guess we all do to some extent. I’m not sure this tweet is going to change things, but hopefully it’s a challenge for many who have avoided risks. Thoughtful risks can work out very well if done right.

Beautiful description of leadership, but hard to achieve.

One other major point that Ed made that I didn’t tweet about had to do with the idea of a project not being an IT project. Ed described the need for IT to make themselves open and available to lead those projects. Although, in order for that to happen, they have to create a trusted leadership role within the organization.

For example, instead of talking to the CEO, CFO, board, etc about project timelines, projects completed, and missed schedule, talk to them about ROI and improved patient care. However, to do so takes a real focus on measuring the costs and benefits of each project.

October 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Moral Obligation and Tweets

I must say this headline from Fierce Health IT gave me a great many giggles today: Healthcare social media a ‘moral obligation’. No shred of irony in the article either, which quotes Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, thusly:

“Our patients are there. Our moral obligation is to meet them where they’re at and give them the information they need so they can seek recovery,” Timimi said. “You’ve got to be ready for it. You build it for the patients; not for yourself.

“This is not marketing,” he added. “This is the right thing to do.”

Are you sure it’s not just a way to log in to Facebook while you’re on the clock, Dr. T?

Not to come down too hard on Dr. Timimi, but I can think of plenty of other medical things which are “moral obligations”: saving patient lives, or low cost accessible healthcare for all. Being able to find a condesed tweet about bunions – um, not so much. I mean, healthcare is already quite a messpool to be in without doctors and hospitals flogging themselves over not being social media savvy enough. And not everyone can be a social media rockstar John D Halamka.

I know I’m being wilfully dense tonight. And the esteemed Dr. Timimi probably had stuff like Facebook pages and cancer blogs in mind when he talked about healthcare info via social media. But I scoured Twitter for “medical advice” and “cancer” and found that there’s some accidental giggles to be had:

Tim Brookman ‏ @T_Brookman
Next person that texts me for medical advice is getting told to apply icyhot directly to their genitals

nicole west ‏ @NicNac19
I love when friends come to me & ask medical advice & I actually know the solution… just don’t quote me, lol.

saintseester ‏ @saintseester
will not be giving free medical advice on anonymous social media. You’d be an idiot to take advice like that anyway.

Official Cancer Page ‏ @Cancer69_
#Cancer is big on trust and if you lie to them they will make sure you regret it
(yeah, yeah, I getit.. they’re talking about the sun sign)

April 24, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.