Beyond the Patient Portal: New Report on Improving Consumer Engagement Released

by | Sep 22, 2016

Join author Brian Eastwood October 4th, 2016 at 1pm ET for a free webinar highlighting some of the key findings of this report. He will also be fielding questions from the audience. Register today!

For years – before the Affordable Care Act, even – the healthcare industry has asked consumers to take greater responsibility for their health and wellness without giving them tools to help them manage even the most basic aspects of health and wellness. Not coincidentally, consumers have taken more financial responsibility – in the form of higher copays, deductibles, premiums, and other out-of-pocket costs – without having the means to take greater personal responsibility.

Strategies to engage consumers, whether as patients, members, or employees, in their health have taken a largely generic approach based on individual encounters (appointments, lab tests, immunizations, etc.) or short-term programs (the office wellness challenge, a series of healthy eating workshops, and the like).  None of these strategies have yielded long-term patient engagement, activation, or behavior change; nor have they had much success in driving down costs.

The latest Insight Report from Chilmark Research, Beyond the Patient Portal: Technology for Improved Consumer Engagement, aims to shift the way the healthcare industry thinks about engagement.

For starters, it’s not about patients, employees, or members – it’s about consumers. People with lives outside the hospital, workplace, and health plan. People who have more nuanced needs than a three-page discharge summary or generic care plan for a common chronic condition. People impacted by complex social determinants of health and other circumstances beyond their control. People who want to engage, and do engage, only to be thwarted at nearly every turn.


The Path From Engagement to Empowerment

Rather, it’s about taking a holistic approach to engagement, providing solutions tailored to helping consumers solve their unique healthcare problems and achieve their unique health and wellness goals.

For too long, providers, payers, employers, and vendors have created siloed engagement experiences, leaving consumers confused at best and marginalized at worst. Data sits in scattered sources; anyone who wants to share a medical record must first collect it, and for even the healthiest consumers it’s an exercise in frustration and too often futile. 

To give consumers the experience they need – some would say deserve – those stakeholders must put aside their differences and develop, together, an honest-to-goodness engagement solution. They must draw on the lessons of successful engagement models (several of which are highlighted in the report) while recognizing their own shortcomings and accepting that, yes, good ideas can in fact come from outside the organization. Above all, they must admit that today’s strategies are insufficient for the coordinated, value-based care model they espouse for the future.

The report articulates a vision for the future of consumer engagement – what functionality will be necessary, when it will be available, when various types of HCOs will be ready to first invest in it and then implement it, and how it will improve engagement for all consumers. It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but healthcare is full of equally ambitious men and women working day and night to make that vision a reality.

The report is available to subscribers of the Chilmark Advisory Service or may be purchased separately. For more information, visit our Reports page. Direct inquiries for purchase should be addressed to Sean Campbell at



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