Why Patient Engagement Solutions Are Failing

The healthcare landscape is changing. The commercial and CMS-regulated Medicare and Medicaid markets are transforming. And patient engagement must be at the center of all of it.


When it comes to population health, consumer engagement will be the engine that drives sustainability for the future of our healthcare system.

Healthcare’s stakeholders are scrambling to align and address the imperatives of increasing healthcare costs, and effectively managing population health.

The rapid shift in health and care delivery models are primarily a response to three key drivers of change:

  1. The migration from volume-based to value-based payment structures and payer-provider incentive arrangements,

  2. The continued march of healthcare consumerism shifting more responsibility and empowerment to individuals and their families,

  3. And advancements in predictive analytics and health management informatics that enable targeting for patient-level clinical and health management interventions.

Although this shift is complex and challenging, these three drivers have already served one immensely critical function:

They have helped to align incentives for healthcare’s key stakeholders: payers, providers and consumers, so that collective, collaborate action can benefit everyone.

But as sophisticated as the contracting and incentive payment mechanisms are, as refined as the insurance and benefit models are, and as powerful as the informatics have become, one critical piece of the puzzle is still conspicuously absent:

What’s Still Missing?

No one - not payers, not health systems, nor population health management solutions and service providers - seems to have “cracked the code” on how to reach and effectively engage patients for sustained participation and adherence in clinical programs and interventions.

Because patient engagement is so critical to the future sustainability of our evolving healthcare system, I believe bridging the “Outreach To Engagement Gap” with science, process methodology, and technology is the Holy Grail of modern healthcare.

And although we will get to the ultimate solution in our ongoing webinar series, every solution starts with understanding the problem that needs solving.

So what is the fundamental problem?

Actually, there are 11 critical reasons for patient engagement failure that need to be addressed in order to arrive at an ideal solution.

I’ll briefly summarize the first 5 below, but for a full list and detailed understanding of each, plus access to (and video recordings of) our full webinar series on the problems, opportunities, and ultimate solution we can collaboratively deploy, register now for our in-depth patient engagement solution webinar series here.

Reason #1:

Solution Fragmentation

There is little connectivity or integration between many of the key tools and capabilities we have today. For all intents and purposes these integral components remain siloed, leaving key links in the solution-chain disconnected.

Reason #2:

Misplaced Confidence in Technology Solutions

Wearables, healthables, and consumer apps hold great promise and are clearly part of the solution. Reliance on technology alone, however, has proven largely ineffectual with low utilization. And where utilization of digital health technologies is high, it’s typically among the most healthy and not among the people who need to be engaged. The consumer wearables user is already engaged.

Reason #3:

Not Focusing on the Right People

Clinical and health management program efforts typically focus on high cost utilizers of healthcare, many of whom represent limited opportunity for interventional effectiveness or ROI. Predictive Analytics that truly identify and focus on “Rising Risk,” where there is the greatest opportunity for interventional effectiveness and ROI, represent a better bang for the buck. For high cost utilizers, the standard of care for treatment and case management is typically sufficient. But even then, both populations represent an opportunity for outreach and engagement. Just for markedly different reasons.

Reason #4:

Focusing on Engagement Before Outreach

While engagement is incremental to application of clinical and health management interventions, they can’t be effectively applied in the absence of effective outreach. Modern marketing methodologies and technologies need to be more effectively implemented in healthcare to reach consumers where they are, and speak to them in a way that moves them.

Reason #5:

Limited Contact Information

There is continued reliance on mail and telephone contact information, which is often incomplete and inaccurate.  Rarely is email or mobile phone information accessible and new strategies need to be employed to unlock these key communications channels. With limited contact options, “Unable to Reach” is most often the prevailing metric.

Register here to get access to the webinar discussion, and the white paper on all 11 key reasons for patient engagement failure.