This recent article by Dave Chase for Forbes magazine, refers to the 7 Habits of HIghly Patient Centric Providers. Patient-centered care first gained widespread notice as a result of a 2001 Institute of Medicine report calling it one of six core goals of a 21st-century health care system. Patient-centeredness was defined as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

The Centre for Advancing Health describes patient engagement as “actions individuals must take to obtain the greatest benefit from the health care services available to them.”

There has been a pronounced shift in the burden of disease among the U.S. population from acute to chronic conditions. Over 148 million Americans, or half the population, suffer from asthma, depression, diabetes or some other chronic disease, and they now account for three of every four dollars spent on health care. Chronic diseases have become the leading cause of death and disability.

As a website promoting “Triple Solution for a Healthier America” put it: “Chronic diseases are crushing health care.” Quite simply, chronic disease cannot be successfully fought without enlisting the patient in the battle. When many providers hear, “Patient engagement,” they think, “Lifestyle changes and medication compliance.” That website helping inform providers about this issue? It’s sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, which makes medications to treat asthma, depression and diabetes, among other conditions.

Government rules and regulations affecting provider reimbursement include patient engagement. Whether it’s a hospital, an accountable care organization (ACO) or a patient-centered medical home, compensation is increasingly linked to the CAHPS score (a patient experience of care survey).

Similarly, hospitals and doctors trying to meet “meaningful use” requirements that came attached to federal grants to buy electronic health records (EHRs) must be able to show minimum levels of patient engagement (such as access to medical tests) being enabled by those EHRs. The continued push for consumer e-health by the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has resulted in a corresponding interest in the topic by the big EHR vendors such as Epic, Cerner, GE Healthcare, Allscripts, athenahealth and others

it is becoming more profitable to keep patients well than to have them return visit-after-visit for sick care. As a Health Affairs brief summarizing the research on patient engagement put it: “A growing body of evidence demonstrates that patients who are more actively involved in their health care have better outcomes and incur lower medical costs. This finding is motivating health care organizations to better inform patients about their conditions and care choices, so they can be more fully involved in maintaining their health and making decisions about their care.”

Common sense right?