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All Things HIT

Aug 12 2011   11:57AM GMT

Consumer eHealth: A behemoth task, without you!

Posted by: AllinHIT
Clear Channel, Consumer health, Patient engagement, Vendor partnerships

Over a year ago, I blogged about the importance of patient education and its possible effect on increasing physician adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). At the time, I challenged the ONC to develop a patient and consumer health education plan, and I’m elated about their recent announcement of just such a campaign (I would love to think they were listening to me, but I know better!).

On August 9th, during the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) Consumer Consortium, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, ONC’s national health IT coordinator, stated the importance of patients having access to PHI, and for the physician’s ability to share that information to engage the patient.  As a consequence, the ONC announced they will be developing educational videos and gave a preview of a website that will have educate and provide real life stories.

While this is a good start, Dr. Mostashari stated that the ONC needs to do more to shift the attitude of consumers pertaining to their PHI, and that it’s a strategy that can’t be ignored.  This is a behemoth task, and both the NeHC and the ONC have asked consumer organizations for ideas and assistance.

But the ONC and consumer organizations can not do this alone. As the industry “experts,”  we need to also be at the forefront as contributors.  Here are a few things we all can do to assist in these efforts.  Consider yourself as a consumer organization of one (1), sharing your ideas, thoughts, and more importantly, being a part of the solution! Last year, I dedicated myself to educating the public on health IT, in 2010.  Although, I haven’t accomplished all that I had planned to do (I do have to make a living), I have taken action.

First, I partnered with an independent pharmacy and used their facility to present on electronic prescribing. I developed a “flier” that was placed in every prescription bag, giving us a good turnout (something you can do easily duplicate in your area). Secondly, I recently partnered with Clear Channel Communications, Billboard division in Miami, and am sponsoring a patient – centric “educational billboard” on health care IT initiatives (I think the ONC should give me a call for a national billboard program!).  We are even talking about expanding this education billboard program in other markets, to provider and health care hubs like Dallas and Boston.

Although you may not have access to Clear Channel in your area, you can partner with other organizations to develop educational materials for distribution (handouts, etc).  This community approach is much needed to accomplish the task at hand, and an effort made in your own community, like my partnerhsip with Clear Channel and independent pharmacies, is the type of collective, collaborative effort needed to make consumer eHealth less of a daunting task.

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