On Tuesday, January 9th, we hosted our first ever event in which we invited industry leaders to discuss their triumphs and pitfalls with patient engagement programs. Coordinated alongside the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, “The Practical Guide to Creating Successful Patient Engagement Programs” was a discussion in which stakeholders spoke about their personal experiences, learned from each other, and made connections with other attendees.

Welkin CEO and Co-founder, Chase Hensel, kicked-off the session with a case study presentation emphasizing the need for patient services to add value to existing and emerging therapies. Afterwards, groups of attendees huddled together to share their personal anecdotes on what did or did not work for them when designing services for patients.

One table discussed the efficacy of various communication channels by demographic, specifically the contrast between older and younger patients. They noted that older populations like talking on the phone, even prefer it because it feels more social, while younger people strongly dislike being called. But despite their bent for texting, Protected Health Information (PHI) consents to communicate across the channel can be hard to obtain.

The need to empower patients with their own data and how to engender trust was also explored. Participants compared the preferences of manufacturers versus clinicians when engaging patients, and discussed how physician specialty can affect communication. For example, specialists tend to have fewer but more complex cases and want to be more hands on with their patients, whereas general practitioners manage hundreds of chronic patients at a time, limiting how hands on they can be with each individual. They also talked about some of the barriers with clinicians who may not want to share patient information, while others are willing to. One attendee commented that she saw more patient engagement with service programs because specialists are overloaded, noting that the program workers filled the gap in care.


Other groups considered the effect of patient engagement on payers who want to reimburse pharma, device, and coaching companies but only after they have proof that their products, combined with patient services, can lower spending. They talked about how providers manage member relationships and market programs for higher enrollment, and how to incentivize programs for increased participation.

Additionally, the power of positive messaging was discussed. When affirming patient participation, one group saw higher continued engagement, especially when the positive program messaging told a story easily relatable to (and validating of) the patient. Patient-facing technology with good design ensured little reinforcement was needed to keep patients engaged.

Others spoke on the benefits of consistency, like the act of journaling, to keep patients connected to their programs. One attendee commented that they found strategies incorporating messages which felt more “human” made people feel better about the interactions. When engagement was warmer and fun, straying away from feeling totally clinical, it yielded better results.

Perhaps one attendee summed it up best that, “people need to feel cared for.” We tend to agree.