Like all health organizations, rural practices are increasingly called upon to improve patient engagement. This isn’t surprising, considering patient engagement is linked directly to better health outcomes and lower costs of care.1 It is also credited with minimizing care disparities among patients with challenging social determinants, improving medication compliance and more.
However, guidance on how to “engage” patients properly — to achieve high metrics such as the ones cited in medical studies — is sometimes a little vague. Improving the frequency with which a patient connects to his or her provider and takes ownership of health outcomes raises many questions: Can a provider reap the benefits of engagement by simply buying a portal to send secure messages to a patient (per the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] Promoting Interoperability guidelines)? Or must a provider connect with patients daily, in and out of the office, to ensure that patients’ health scores improve?