CMS Patient, Family Engagement Strategy Mirrors AAFP Efforts

Patient Accountability Leads to Better Health Outcomes

January 23, 2017 09:51 am News Staff

Family physicians understand the importance of getting patients interested and involved in their health care. And that involvement extends beyond the patient to families and other caregivers.

The AAFP also embraces the message of patient accountability and engagement and has, among other actions, created an FAQ on patient self-management(2 page PDF) to assist family physicians.

Additionally, the AAFP supports recent efforts by the Health is Primary(healthisprimary.org) campaign from Family Medicine for America' Health(fmahealth.org) to highlight the issue with the release of related resources, including an infographic(www.healthisprimary.org) that stresses putting patients at the center of care.

Backing for the patient engagement concept extends all the way to the federal government, as evidenced by the recent release of a CMS document titled "Person and Family Engagement Strategy."(www.cms.gov)

Story Highlights
  • CMS recently released its Person and Family Engagement Strategy, which mirrors AAFP efforts in this area.
  • In a blog post about the release, an agency official said the strategy is intended to ensure that patients and families are part of the health care team and that they work collaboratively with their doctor and other health care professionals to be active partners in decision-making.
  • The strategy is built on four goals that, in part, call for creating partnerships within communities, as well as building an environment that encourages patients and families to work with their health care providers to craft evidence-based health and wellness goals that align with patient and family values and preferences.

The precursor to this latest paper was a 2015 update to CMS' quality strategy that highlighted patient engagement as a key step toward achieving better health outcomes.

CMS Blog

CMS' release of the engagement strategy was the focus of a December 2016 CMS blog(blog.cms.gov) penned by Kate Goodrich, M.D., M.H.S, director of CMS' Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, in which she further defined the phrase "person and family engagement" and described its importance.

"We view this as patients and families being part of the health care team by working collaboratively with their doctor or other health care professional to be active partners when making decisions about their health," Goodrich wrote.

Furthermore, when patients are active partners on the health care team and assist in setting goals and making decisions, they feel responsible for their health, and "they are much more likely to achieve their health care goals," she added.

Strategy Goals

CMS crafted the person and family engagement strategy around four goals accompanied by specific objectives and desired outcomes.

Goal one is described as creating partnerships within communities and involves actively encouraging patient and family engagement "along the continuum of care within the broader context of health and well-being in the communities in which people live."

CMS wants this effort to go beyond the traditional boundaries of health care settings and urges the development of partnerships between individuals, their health care providers and community resources.

Goal two calls for promoting tools and strategies that reflect patient and/or family values and preferences and make it possible for people to direct and self-manage their health care.

Goal three requires creation of an environment that enables patients and their families to partner with their health care professionals to craft health and wellness goals that not only are backed by sound evidence but that align with patient and family values and preferences.

Goal four demands the development of specific criteria that will improve the "experience of care" for individuals, caregivers and families. This goal also calls for identifying best practices and techniques already in use so that they can be scaled to size and integrated on a national level.

Next Steps

CMS pledged to continue working in this area and outlined next steps that include

  • incorporating and promoting engagement principles in the agency's daily work,
  • monitoring successes to identify further opportunities for improvement,
  • seeking input from physicians and other stakeholders, and
  • strengthening patient and family engagement principles over time.

Lastly, CMS challenged physicians and other stakeholders to evaluate their own programs and begin to incorporate engagement strategy concepts within their practices and organizations.

Doing so, said CMS, will "improve how you interact with persons and their families, ultimately improving their experiences and outcomes."

Related AAFP News Coverage
Health is Primary: Engaged Patients Are Healthier Patients
Family Physician Says Patient Accountability Builds Engagement

(12/7/2016)

Q&A on Patient Portals
Health System Finds Technology Can Boost Patient Engagement

(8/02/2016)

Additional Resource
Person and Family Engagement Strategy Summary(www.cms.gov)