What is Patient Engagement?

Updated on December 21, 2021

Since the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program, Meaningful Use (MU), in 2011, the term patient engagement has become nearly ubiquitous in US healthcare policy discussions. It is now the driving concept behind CMS’s proposed[¹] financial reimbursement paradigm shift that focuses on a move from fee-for-service care to value-based care.

Although one single definition of patient engagement doesn’t exist, the overarching idea is to move patients away from being passive recipients in their healthcare journey to more active participants. Whether it’s having them become more educated on their conditions and having more autonomy in decision-making to providing feedback and driving change in the healthcare industry itself, patient engagement is impacting organizations at every touchpoint.

Despite the emphasis that has been placed on the term “patient engagement” and its widespread use among health IT vendors in their marketing campaigns, many healthcare providers still have a vague concept of what patient engagement is, and many doubt if it’s genuinely beneficial.

What is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is a multi-faceted concept that includes a patient’s knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage his/her own health. The overall goal of patient engagement is to capitalize on a patient’s involvement in shared decision-making to promote behavior that has a positive impact on health outcomes. According to a recent review of 48 studies about patient engagement[²], patients tended to feel more confident and empowered when engaged more in their healthcare and were better at adhering to medical plans, leading to overall improved outcomes. It was even shown to have reduced hospital admissions, however, it is only effective if organizations use the tools at their disposal effectively.



Utilizing Healthcare IT to Engage Patients

As the concept of patient engagement has been pushed to the forefront of US healthcare policy, the healthcare IT market has evolved to meet the growing need. Within the past 20 years, the healthcare IT market has shifted from exclusively focusing on revenue cycle management (RCM) software to a broader focus that includes electronic health record (EHR)[³] systems and now patient engagement technology. A further testament to the importance of patient engagement technology is the fact that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of patient engagement software is expected to significantly outpace the CAGR of other sub-categories in healthcare IT[⁴].

Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)Electronic Health Records (EHR)Patient Engagement
Mainstream AdoptionPre 20002000 to 20152020 forward
Current US Market Valuation18.3 billion (2014)4.3 billion (2016)14.1 billion (2021)
Future Market Valuation32.2 billion (2019)6.9 billion (2025)42.2 billion (2027)
Compound Annual Growth (CAGR)12.0%5.4%16.9%


Current Trends in Patient Engagement Technology

Patient Portals are currently the most commonly used patient engagement technology, with 90% of clinics using them as their primary engagement tool[⁵], although it remains difficult to convince patients to register. For many health systems, simply having a basic patient portal is the cornerstone of a patient engagement strategy. Basic patient portal functionality includes:

With patient portal use becoming a cornerstone of healthcare delivery and consumer demand for quality healthcare IT increasing, patient portals are developing advanced functionality that facilitates patient engagement. The advanced portal features that are available on the market include:

Digital Front Door

Patient Engagement and Beyond

With an aging US population[⁶] and limited financial resources[⁷] to provide healthcare to an ever-increasing medically complex population, providers have no choice but to embrace the concept of patient engagement as a tool to lower healthcare costs. The good news is patient engagement works, there is mounting evidence that engaged patients are overall healthier[⁸] with lower healthcare costs. Bridge Patient Portal is an industry leader in patient engagement technology. Our patient portal is the most advanced vendor-neutral patient portal on the market and our newly available mobile app enhances the patient engagement features of our patient portal.

  1. CMS.gov. (2021). CMS’ Value-Based Programs. [online] CMS.gov. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/Value-Based-Programs/Value-Based-Programs
  2. Bombard, Y., Baker, G.R., Orlando, E., Fancott, C., Bhatia, P., Casalino, S., Onate, K., Denis, J.-L. and Pomey, M.-P. (2018). Engaging patients to improve quality of care: A systematic review. Implementation Science, [online] BMC. Available at: https://implementationscience.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13012-018-0784-z
  3. Businesswire. (2019). Global Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Software Market 2019-2023| Growing Adoption of Value-Based RCM to Boost Growth| Technavio. [online] businesswire. Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190516005662/en/Global-Healthcare-Revenue-Cycle-Management-RCM-Software-Market-2019-2023-Growing-Adoption-of-Value-Based-RCM-to-Boost-Growth-Technavio
  4. Brand Essence® Market Research and Consulting. (2021). 16.9%+ CAGR, Patient Engagement Solutions Market Global Industry to Reach Valuation over USD 42.2 Billion by 2027 | Report Analysis 2021-2027. [online] Brand Essence. Available at: https://brandessenceresearch.com/PressReleases/16-9-cagr-patient-engagement-solutions-market-global-industry-to-reach-valuation
  5. Henry, JW., Barker, W., Kachay, L. (2019). ONC. Electronic Capabilities for Patient Engagement among U.S. Non-Federal. [online] The Office of the National Coordinator for Health InformationTechnology (ONC). Available at: https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/page/2019-04/AHApatientengagement.pdf
  6. America’s Health Rankings. (2021). America’s Health Rankings | AHR. [online] Available at: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/learn/reports/2021-senior-report/introduction
  7. MacLeod, S., Musich, S., Hawkins, K. and Armstrong, D.G. (2017). The growing need for resources to help older adults manage their financial and healthcare choices. BMC Geriatrics, [online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5387227/
  8. Cornejo, C. (2018). Patient Engagement and the Promise of Better Outcomes. [online] WEGO Health. Available at: https://www.wegohealth.com/2018/01/08/patient-engagement/
Blake Rodocker
Blake Rodocker

Blake joined Bridge Patient Portal in 2016 after transferring from our parent company Medical Web Experts. Since then, he’s acted as Bridge’s Business Development Manager. Blake is passionate about driving collaboration with clients, partners, and internal teams to achieve performance goals and successful relationships.