Patient Engagement, Partnerships and Puppies

(originally published on

I was recently invited to host the World Congress Patient Engagement Summit in Boston. The event promised to “leave behind theory and bring about actionable change with actionable solutions to engage patients and move the needle on clinical outcomes and community health.” And, it lived up to this billing.

I moderated the “Leverage Prevention Programs to Boost Wellness and the Bottom Line” panel discussion where Neal S. Sofian, MSPH, director of member engagement of Premera Blue Cross and Blue Shield, shared a powerful story that continues to resonate with me. I believe this story (which I’ve paraphrased below) will lend itself to true innovation in patient engagement and partnership and, ultimately, better health and healthcare outcomes. Sofian’s presentation was engaging and colorful and his message was clear: We must think differently to truly engage and partner with patients.

“Think about current data collection and use innovations in healthcare provision. Currently, through claims and electronic health record data, we can learn that Mrs. Smith is a 55-year-old woman. She is moderately overweight, has diagnoses of pre-diabetes and mild depression and has not seen her primary care physician in 15 months.

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