Patient Engagement: A Battled Story Of Consumers vs Healthcare

Patient engagement. We engage our patients. We measure patient satisfaction. We are concerned with the overall health of our patients.

Inform me. Engage me. Empower me. Partner with me. Support my e-community.

All of this is wonderful, but I still question if this is just a simple “monologue” in healthcare. It seems to me that most healthcare organizations do a lot to talk about their patient engagement or patient satisfaction. The scores, the process improvement projects, their new programs.

On the flip side, I hear from a lot of patient advocacy groups on their needs, wants, and desires.

I am fortunate enough to travel the globe to observe, question, and gain a better understanding of communities, of people, of cultures, and of healthcare in general. No matter where I am or where I go, it comes down to the same problem: communication and a “meaningful dialogue” between people living in the local geography and the healthcare organization and clinicians that share the same space.

Not that my observations are different than anyone else’s, but I still question, Is patient engagement just a monologue instead of a dialogue?

To break  it down, the word engagement means a  lot of different things to many different people. When you look up the word engagement on-line this is what you see: Click on link 

First definition refers back to a formal agreement between two people to get married. Move down slightly and it states that it is an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.

Look at definition 4: A fight or battle between armed forces

Wait, I thought “engagement” meant something good or positive between two people? How did it go from a formal agreement to a fight or battle?

If I move to the word patient, and look it up on-line, this is what I find as a definition (or click here): used as a noun, it means a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment. If you use the word patient as an adjective, it means the ability to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or sufferings without becoming annoyed or anxious.

I believe what healthcare and all of the “experts” have been trying to drive towards is a day in which a person commits and is ready to receive a medical treatment at a specific place and time. Wait….isn’t this what currently happens?

Or maybe all of the experts and publication have been describing the ongoing battle that occurs between the dogmatic practices in healthcare and the new age of consumerism creeping into patient communities? Dare they be so provocative?

Perhaps what everyone is trying to describe is the consensual marriage between patient and healthcare entering into a committed relationship in which both parties are held accountable?

Today we live in a world of pay per service. The approval of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act are pushing to a new age of pay for value. Perhaps one day that value may not be only defined by government and healthcare. Maybe someone will be disruptive and bring communities and their consumers to the table, ask them what they want, how they want it, and when they want it to develop a new definition of value.

A definition that actually allows two sides of the equation to talk openly, define what value means to both, and to set expectations up front to enter into a true partnership. A partnership in which both work together, over the course of a consumers lifetime, to achieve lasting health with minimum interventions as a “patient.”

I would like to see a story in which healthcare organization, clinicians, and “experts” actually take the time and spend it talking to consumers, the people in their communities and actually understand what their needs are, and then deliver on those expectations.

You want patient engagement.

I want a true life story on consumer activation.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcpt #consumerism #hcbiz

6 responses to “Patient Engagement: A Battled Story Of Consumers vs Healthcare

  1. So many things that need to be ‘fixed’ and not enough people engaged in the action of ‘fixing’. I’m not sure that patients know how to become involved in their own care; many people are still stuck in the paradigm of ‘doctor knows best’. Most people I know go to the doctor to get cured and have no interest in researching or figuring out what they want. How do we get them involved? How do we get them to want to be involved?

  2. Boy HOWDY did you nail it with this graf:
    “I would like to see a story in which healthcare organization, clinicians, and “experts” actually take the time and spend it talking to consumers, the people in their communities and actually understand what their needs are, and then deliver on those expectations.”

    The issue is that healthcare is acting like patient engagement is a simple checklist. It’s not. It’s much more in line with your marriage metaphor – ask any person in a successful marriage about managing that relationship with just a checklist, and you’ll learn plenty about the uselessness of that approach =)

  3. I’ve often found that the best healthcare professionals are the ones who have been in the role of patient or caregiver. These are the professionals who know intimately what it feels like to lie in that hospital bed, how helpless and confusing it can feel to hold a loved one’s hand as they try to find their way through the maze of diagnosis and treatment. These are the ones who truly understand.

  4. @CancerGeek, great commentary on patient engagement. So many quotables. We would love to repost this on our publication, HIT Consultant with full attribution. Given our focus on the intersection of healthcare and technology, our readers would enjoy your thought leadership. You can reach me at .

  5. Excellent piece Andy. When I try to get to the nub of an issue, I turn to the dictionary too – I often find that going back to the basics of what a word means – even better if you can delve back to its origins – helps to focus an argument. I fear that terms like “patient engagement” are in danger of becoming buzzwords in today’s health lexicon. I see it appended to updates on twitter sometimes indiscriminately and wonder how much of this is lip service rather than a true commitment to engaging the patient in the healthcare process.

  6. Pingback: Packaging Healthcare: A Story Of Ingredients, Calories, And Price | CancerGeek

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