PatientEngagementHIT

Policy & Regulation News

CMS Family, Patient Engagement Strategies to Drive Quality Care

The Patient and Family Engagement Strategy aims to establish best engagement practices industry-wide.

By Sara Heath

CMS has launched a new patient engagement strategy to support each of the agency’s quality and patient-centered care initiatives, according to an agency blog post.

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The initiative is a part of the agency’s overarching goal to improve health outcomes while reducing healthcare costs, according to the Director of the CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Kate Goodrich, MD, MHS.

“We know that a key strategy to achieving better outcomes is to meaningfully engage patients as partners in decisions about their health care,” she explained. “Therefore, one of the six goals outlined in this strategy is: Strengthen person and family engagement as partners in care.”

Person and family engagement incorporates key players into the care team by educating them on potential treatments, considering their needs and opinions, and working together to make healthcare decisions.

When providers engage patients and their families as a part of the care team, they can better determine the best course treatment based off of current health status, patient preferences, and shared goals, Goodrich said. When patients feel listened to and responsible for their healthcare, they are more likely to achieve those goals.

To ensure healthcare professionals incorporate those practices across all of their care initiatives, CMS developed the Patient and Family Engagement strategy with a set of principles rooted in promoting shared decision-making, understanding patient preferences and values, teamwork, best practices, and patient self-management through greater accountability.

Four key goals permeate several of the agency’s healthcare improvement programs.

First, providers must facilitate patient and family engagement within the context of their overall health. Providers should turn to community resources that can help reinforce the idea of health and wellbeing. Community partners can also reiterate health education.

Second, providers must identify and implement patient engagement tools that coincide with patient and family values. These tools will be integral in encouraging patient self-management and will help direct patients in the right direction of improving their health.

The tools can leverage health IT, CMS says, and include patient portals or mHealth tools that allow for digital communication and health management. They can also be person-based, including patient advocacy councils or different programs to reduce health disparities.

Third, providers must foster an environment in which patients feel comfortable partnering with their clinicians. This will rely on creating a “culture of partnership,” CMS says.

Providers must work with their patients as a team to co-create goals. Additionally, practice leaders should consider creating patient and family surveys to better identify needs and preferences to improve the care experience.

Lastly, providers must develop and adhere to patient engagement measures that facilitate improvement in patient and family experience. These measures can also help develop person and family engagement best practices and implement them on a wide scale.

According to Goodrich, the PFE Strategy acknowledges that patient engagement is an important concept that permeates all aspects of the care encounter.

“This Strategy emphasizes that person and family engagement goes beyond informed consent,” she said.

“It is about including the patient’s voice in policy and program planning. It is about proactive, effective communication and partnered decision-making with patients, families, and caregivers. It is about building a care relationship based on trust and inclusion of patients’ beliefs, values, preferences, and culture which can even lead to a reduction in health care disparities.”

This will all be key in healthcare industry reform moving forward, as federal policies continue to emphasize value-based, patient-centered healthcare.

“As delivery system reform efforts move the nation to focus on the quality of care and not the quantity of care received, person and family engagement is an essential part of a health care system that delivers high quality care, spends dollars more wisely, and improves the health of people in their communities,” Goodrich concluded.

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