health engagement

Is Patient Engagement an Unnatural Act?

Nearly five years ago, a healthcare tech pundit called patient engagement “the blockbuster drug of the 21st century.” [] The enthusiasm and excitement are understandable: patients who are more actively engaged in their care appear to have better outcomes and improved healthcare experiences. []

But if patient engagement is such a good thing, why haven’t we seen the “blockbuster” outcomes that should come along with it? The answer is that in many ways, patient engagement is akin to levitating: it sounds good, but it’s awfully hard to do. That’s because when we try to increase patient engagement, we’re fighting millions of years of evolution.

Of the 10 million bits of information the human brain processes each second, a skimpy fifty bits are under our control. This means that we point our scant fifty bits at issues that are either pressing or pleasurable.

In other words, almost everything our brains do is automatic, happening below the radar and beyond our grasp. This leads to lots of inattention and inertia, often keeping us from engaging in better behaviors and decisions.

Fortunately, there are a number of proven strategies for activating patients’ pre-existing good intentions. We can use these strategies to craft interactions designed to address this “fifty bits” limitation.

None of this means that patient engagement is hopeless, or that it’s a bad thing. But it does mean that we should all appreciate the serious challenge that we’re taking when we call for greater patient engagement. And it absolutely suggests that we should thoroughly investigate other strategies for activating the good intentions that most people already have – whether that requires engagement or not.

Join me at the 3rd Annual Eliza Client Summit – Outcomes2017 where I will deliver the day one keynote and share proven strategies that can lead to better health outcomes. 

Dr. Bob Nease is an Eliza Engage blog guest writer, keynote speaker at Outcomes2017, chief scientist emeritus at ESI and author of The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results

Multi-Channel Outreaches Increase EPSDT Compliance

Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) services are required for Medicaid enrollees under 21 years old. They are a vital component of a comprehensive set of benefits designed to assess a child's health at regular intervals and identify potential problems early on. EPSDT, or well-child, visits provide an opportunity for families to ask questions, become educated on healthy behaviors, and develop a relationship with their child's doctor. This is also a time when immunizations are administered, physical and behavioral development are assessed, and important health screenings, such as the lead toxicity screening, are done.

Eliza knows that healthy children are more likely to grow into healthy adults, and that preventive care is the key to raising a healthy generation. We work with Medicaid plans across the U.S. to educate members about the importance of preventive care, remind parents that their child, or children, are due for a well-child visit, and even help them find a primary care provider and set up appointments, should they need a little extra help navigating the system.

When conducting a multi-channel outreach for a large Medicaid plan, those reached by Eliza had a 7.9% greater rate of well-child visits than those that weren't reached. We also consistently see an incremental lift in rates for each additional touch point. In this particular program, members who received a phone call and an email had a 6.2% greater rate of well-child visits, than those who only received a phone call.


Eliza conducted similar outreaches for members who, according to claims data, received their well-child visits the year before, and were therefore, considered to be compliant. We ran a lighter-touch campaign for this group consisting of a brief phone call and follow-up text message reminding parents and guardians that their child was due for their well-child visit. Those that were reached over the phone had a 6.5% greater rate of well-child visits than those that weren’t reached. There was an additional 2% lift in rates for those who received a text reminder following the call. Multi-channel outreach yields results.

Well Child HEDIS Rates for 'Remind' Group

Not only did Eliza increase the number of children who received important preventive and ongoing care, Eliza also connected families to medical and community resources, an essential component of supporting traditionally underserved populations.

For more information on how Eliza can help you increase EPSDT compliance among your Medicaid members, email us at, or call us at 1.844.343.1441.

Jennifer Forster joined Eliza in the summer of 2014 as the Director of Medicaid Strategy. Before Eliza, Jennifer was at Network Health, a Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) and division of Tufts Health Plan. She served as the key operational and product contact with state and federal agencies and managed staff to support contract management activities such as compliance, reporting, communications, and negotiations.

Jennifer attended Syracuse University where she earned a B.S. in Marketing from the Whitman School of Management and a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

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