UnitedHealth Exec Offers 5 Tips on Patient Engagement

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , August 14, 2013

The giant health insurer has learned much from its consumer engagement program. Lewis G. Sandy, MD, senior vice president for clinical advancement at UnitedHealth Group, shares some practical lessons.


Sandy


Lewis G. Sandy, MD, senior vice president for clinical advancement at UnitedHealth Group

I consider myself an engaged patient. I keep my provider appointments, I ask questions, I'm honest about my efforts to improve my health, and I fill my prescriptions and take the medications as directed.

Yep, I definitely deserve a gold star. Alas, not all patients are like me. At one time that might not have mattered so much to payers or providers, but in the era of healthcare reform, recalcitrant patients can seriously mess up quality scores and outcomes. And that can translate to reduced income for physicians, hospitals, and payers.

So, patient engagement has emerged as a big part of the healthcare industry. The concept has been tweaked over the years. It's shifted from one-off efforts to encourage patients to complete health risk assessments or join gyms, to more deliberate data mining to close gaps in patient care and monitor high-risk patients.

Lewis G. Sandy, MD, senior vice president for clinical advancement at UnitedHealth Group, recently shared in Health Affairs some practical lessons the giant insurer has learned from its expansive consumer engagement program. In a telephone interview, he offered five tips for improving patient engagement:

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