Consumer engagement is the forging of a unique relationship between a provider and a consumer in which the consumer becomes invested in his or her own healthcare. For consumer engagement to happen, consumers must be brought to the table in a meaningful partnership and collaboration with their provider.

Despite the ready focus on consumer engagement, some clinicians continue to struggle to define “engagement” as a collaborative partnership with their clients. Additionally, many consumers aren’t responding to engagement initiatives as extensively as expected.

Technology could be a catalyst for improving this dynamic.

Recent studies indicate that consumers want to be more involved in their health planning and care. The Intel Health Innovation Barometer Survey found 82 percent of respondents say it is important to have access to one’s own health record. Similarly, around 75 percent of all respondents say if given the option, they would prefer to book/change/cancel appointments, request prescription refills and receive appointment reminders electronically.infograph-from-slick

Research also consistently shows that strong consumer engagement results in improved wellness and better outcomes. A recent Urban Institute report exploring consumer-centered care noted that involving consumers can lead to positive results, including greater adherence to health advice and improvement in consumer health. Another report by Kaiser Permanente stated that consumer use of online prescription refills improves adherence.

Technology vendors look at consumer engagement in terms of end-user need: How can engagement-centric solutions foster increased clinical, operational and financial efficiencies, and better suit the workflows of providers, help them move through Meaningful Use and be affordable, all at the same time?  On the other hand, consumers think of themselves first. They decide with which means they want to better manage their health.

Collaboration is a two-way street.

Organizations that adopt a proactive mindset and utilize the right technology will have a competitive edge and gain the loyalty, trust and confidence of their consumers. Then, everyone wins.