Erica Drazen, managing partner for emerging practices with the healthcare consulting firm CSC in Waltham, MA, and CSC research analyst Caitlin Lorincz recommend these initial steps:
Establish a foundation. Financing health IT investments can be challenging. Healthcare organizations with limited resources may wish to begin by focusing their efforts on the first two dimensions of health IT tools, namely establishing tools to enable patient identification and tracking and to promote interaction between patients and their care teams.
"With these two capabilities in place, healthcare organizations will be able to identify at-risk patient populations, such as chronic care patients who are behind in their recommended care procedures, and proactively reach out and engage them," Drazen and Lorincz write in their recent report from CSC, Preparing for Accountable Care. "These two tactics would establish a foundation that could be built from to provide patients with self-service and self-care tools at a later date. Healthcare organizations with the former capabilities already in place should concentrate on the latter two dimensions and implement tools to increase patients' access to personal information and self-service capabilities, as well as tools to encourage and support patient self-care activities."
Align your efforts with other incentive programs. Healthcare organizations should take steps to complement their infrastructure investments with other incentive programs, such as the meaningful use program.
Many meaningful use "criteria closely parallel necessary patient engagement activities," Drazen and Lorincz write. "For instance, stage one criteria measures include generating condition-specific patient lists for quality improvement and outreach activities, providing patients with electronic access to, or electronic copies of, their medical information, sending patient reminders for follow up orpreventative care visits, and sharing patient-specific educational resources."