Patient Engagement in an ACO World


By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

First posted on ACO Watch 2/4/2014

Last June I had the honor or moderating a panel on ‘unlocking innovation in patient engagement’ in an ACO World atMedCity News’s ENGAGE conference. Joining me on the panel are: Libby Webb, Director, Product Management, Athenahealth, Lanie W. Abbott, APR, Senior Communications & Outreach Coordinator, EMHS Population Health Management and Colin Ward, MHS, Executive Director, Greater Baltimore Health Alliance.

During the session we discuss ACO implementation issues and how early movers are mobilizing and organizing to drive sustained patient engagement while conforming to a complicated set of ACO policies. Patient engagement will continue to be the missing link in new value-based reimbursement programs until the quality of patient communications leads to consistent behavior. We discuss how new ACOs are investing in benchmarking tools and communications interventions that will measurably improve the quality of physician-patient communication.


  1. RE ACO issues and pressures, Cost and Workload is based on the type of medical care needed and given. There is a way to reduce that workload and even keep the PCP very involved in the patient’s treatment. Concurrently the cost of care can also be reduced without fearing that the attending staff workload needed was under obligated or stretched too thin for delivering appropriate care.

    Part of being accountable and able to plan for medical care choices and the time and workload it takes is anchored in how well PCP’s and Hospitalists help their patients define and communicate the patient’s specific wishes for treatment. Then, having clearly specified this in a way that is always accessible to caregivers, hospitalists. attending physicians/staff, the PCP and family, instead of pulling out all the stops, your medical team and your family know the specific wishes of the patient and go no farther than what was clearly specified by the patient.

    How do we as PCP or Hospitalists have that conversation with patients, family, loved ones, caregivers, medical teams so our patients or “future” patients can set up and clearly define what their wishes are for treatment if that medical emergency, hospitalization or even end of life situation happens se we dont automatically “pull out all the stops” and its concurrent strain on workloads for care the patient did not want?

    If we open the “this is what I want” conversation with patients at admission and as a PCP in our patient management structure as a “required” process that clearly defines what a patient wants and doesn’t want for treatment. It then can allow us caregivers the ability to plan the appropriate workforce allocation and workload often using a lot less people and time than the “pull out all,the stops” care approach and thus allow the workload to be better planned for and allocated, even reduced as a result without endangering delivering the appropriate care.

    I found a tool that can help us look at and plan for the care a patient wants. It can facilitate a conversation that gives the patient an informed ability to specify their wishes for what they want and don’t want for caregiving. It’s a tool for patients to create a very specific guideline on what they want for specific care that PCP’s, family, Hospitalists and Medical proxy people can follow.

    Because the tool is designed in a way that can let everyone know about it, use it and make that plan for medical care should the need arise for hospitalization or even end of life treatment,

    —-hospitalists, PCP’s, attending Physicians, Nurses, families and loved ones don’t face the agony of trying to decide how far to go with treatment.
    —-It lets hospitalists and PCP’s obligate the workforce accordingly in a managed way that is often less demanding than the “pull out all the stops” approach to care.
    —-The tool also lets them plan what to do and when without facing the guilt of hoping they made the right choice and without worrying that they under obligated or over obligated appropriated available staff and workloads needed to manage this patient’s care

    Please take a look at this idea and the tools it contains for doing this and then please consider it: .

    Thanks for hearing me out- comments please, Neil Licht