Patient Engagement

Patient Engagement: Health Care Providers Empowering Patients to Improve Health

Patient engagement refers to tools and actions by and for patients, their caregivers, and health care providers to promote informed decision making and behaviors to facilitate improved health outcomes.

When patients and clinicians share information, they have the ability to collaborate to improve health and make informed decisions. This information may also be helpful for caregivers, as they play a key role for patients who need assistance with their health care needs.

Patient and caregiver engagement brings together patients, family members or caregivers, clinicians and other health care professionals as members of the health care team. Engaged patients and caregivers are empowered to work with clinicians to improve the quality and safety of care.

Research has demonstrated that people who actively learn about and manage their care are more likely to participate in preventive and healthy behaviors, self-manage conditions and achieve overall better health outcomes.

For people with chronic diseases, access to electronic health information is an important tool to help those individuals manage their condition and make informed choices about their health.

Empowered, engaged patients have the tools to make better decisions
According to the National Learning Consortium, engaged patients:

  • seek information about their health and health care
  • make informed and shared decisions with their health care team
  • take steps to manage their health and health care
  • act as partners with their health care team.

Which e-health tools help engage patients and caregivers?

  • patient portals
  • secure electronic messaging
  • clinical summaries
  • patient education resources such as mobile applications, self-management tools, decision aids and internet-based resources.

Implementing patient portals and taking actions to successfully engage patients and caregivers with e-health tools will help physicians meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements in 2014 for clinical summaries, patient-specific education resources, secure electronic messaging, timely access to health information and reminders for preventive and follow-up care.

Effectively using these tools also has potential for helping meet future requirements for the yet-to-be released Stage 3 meaningful use requirements, which are expected to focus on shared health care management and self-care.

Stages of Meaningful Use

In order to achieve meaningful use, eligible providers and hospitals must adopt certified EHR technology and use it to achieve specific objectives.

  • Stage 1: 2011-2012, Data capture and sharing
  • Stage 2: 2014, Advance clinical processes
  • Stage 3: 2016 (proposed), Improved outcomes
Summary of Meaningful Use Criteria by Stage
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3 (proposed)
Electronically capturing health information in a standardized format More rigorous health information exchange (HIE) Improving quality, safety, and efficiency, leading to improved health outcomes
Using that information to track key clinical conditions Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results Decision support for national high-priority conditions
Communicating that information for care coordination processes Electronic transmission of patient care summaries across multiple settings Patient access to self-management tools
Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information More patient-controlled data Access to comprehensive patient data through patient-centered HIE
Using information to engage patients and their families in their care   Improving population health

See also: MDH Meaningful Use and Public Health Reporting

Clinicians play a critical role in patient and caregiver engagement with e-health tools. Staff members in the clinical setting can help assist patients or caregivers with information and tools to register for patient portals and other e-health tools. These tools have the potential to increase patient satisfaction through secure communication with the health care team, timely and confidential access to health care records, access to educational resources and convenience of online medication refill requests, appointment scheduling and administrative functions.

Patient engagement resources for clinicians
Find more tools and resources for empowering patients to improve their health.

Consumer [Patient] Engagement in Use of a Personal Health Record or Patient Portal Annotated Bibliography (PDF)
Learn more in this annotated bibliography of consumer (patient) engagement in use of a personal health record or e-portal developed for the MN Community measurement through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative.

Consumer Access to Immunization Information System (IIS) Data
A collaborative project led by Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) brought together various Immunization Information Systems (IIS) to create promising practices for consumer access to data in IIS. This multi-state IIS effort was supported by MN as part of HIE Cooperative Agreement Program funds and led by ONC. The project deliverables are available as guidance for interested stakeholders. Two practical guides which focus on consumer access to IIS via IIS portal and via EHRs and PHRs were created as part of this collaboration. The project management report presents details on project stakeholders and process. A synthesis of work document which presents details on work done earlier and provided good information for this collaborative project to build upon is also available.

Consumer Access to Immunization Information System (IIS) Data: A Guide for Consumer Access via an IIS Portal (PDF) Released December 2013

Consumer Access to Immunization Information System (IIS) Data: A Guide for EHR and PHR System Vendors (PDF) Released December 2013

Consumer Access to Immunization Information System (IIS) Data: Final Management Report (PDF) Released December 2013

Consumer Access to Immunization Information System (IIS) Data: Synthesis of Work to Date (PDF) Released August 2013

For additional information, please contact Noam Arzt ( and/or John Stinn (

Updated Wednesday, 18-Mar-2020 14:29:38 CDT