By Jamie Martin, Marketing & Communications Manager (@DavisJamie77)

Historically, Louisiana has all too often been at the wrong end of the health care rankings. We are ranked among the worst in the nation for overall health status, infant mortality, preventable hospitalizations, chronic disease and infectious disease incidences. Beyond that, Louisiana has some of the highest per capita health care costs in the nation, and shows significant geographic variations in care utilization, cost and quality that cannot be explained by patient race, gender, chronic disease status or payers.

Suffice it to say, it is rare to have our beautiful state called a “pioneer” when it comes to health care, so you can imagine our great pride when we were called just that in a Health Data Management article about our current patient engagement campaign.

Pioneer: we like the sound of that.

And in a way, that’s just what we are, because to our knowledge, no other state has yet attempted to take health IT messaging and education directly to the consumer, even though patient engagement remains a key challenge for health care providers and organizations across the country.

So let’s dive a little bit into our experiences with patient engagement.

As the State-Designated Entity for health IT programs, our organization administers both Louisiana’s Regional Extension Center (REC) and its statewide health information exchange (HIE). This puts us in the unique position of having relationships with health care providers and organizations across the spectrum of care and of all sizes and geographic locations within our state. And what those providers tell us is this: getting patients to engage in their care through health IT is often difficult.

We listened to their concerns, and a few years ago, we began providing patient-facing educational resources to the providers who receive REC services and who are participating in the HIE. This value-added service helped many of these providers meet the patient engagement requirements of the Meaningful Use program, and it was a forerunner to the direct-to-consumer engagement campaign that we are administering now.

We are very fortunate in that we have a wonderful, collaborative relationship with our state’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). Our state, due in large part to our experiences with Katrina, is a strong supporter of health IT advancements, and our state – here comes the “pioneer” part – recognized that engaging patients and families in their care is a critical component in achieving meaningful improvements in care quality, delivery and outcomes.

So we here we are, about to launch what may very well be the first statewide direct-to-consumer health IT engagement campaign. It’s an exciting time in Louisiana, and we are excited to be part of it. 

We have a fantastic Health Care Consumer Advisory Council, composed of representatives of organizations across the state that truly span the spectrum of health care needs and consumer audiences, and we welcome others to join us on this journey. We have a beautiful state – from the farmlands of North Louisiana to the bayous of South Louisiana – and we have a history of pulling together in times of need. And together, we are going to “pioneer” our way to a healthier state.

So keep an eye on Louisiana in the coming months. Great things are about to start happening here.