The term "Engagement" was highly influenced by our alignment with the educators, marketers, and researchers (7 PhD's in instructional technology, educational/health evaluation, clinical psychology, marketing, sociology, and survey research), physicians (pediatrics and clinical Informatics), and health evaluation scientists at University of Virginia and the Department of Public Health Sciences.
PEA's premise of an "engaged" patient as an equal participant in the care process and how we directly influence this (i.e. increased utilization, adherence, adoption etc...) relies on the results of thousands of patients analyzed across the United States. Wendy F. Cohn, PhD, states that, the current health care environment increasingly depends on individuals to play an increased role in their health and health care decision-making in order to achieve the optimal benefits from our health care system. This enhanced role is predicated, in part, on adequate knowledge of health issues and the health care delivery system, and consumers' ability to make health care choices while considering complex information such as cost and quality. Ongoing, current and effective information transfer among public health practitioners, health care providers and the consumer is a requirement. Fortunately, new strategies are emerging to enhance the effectiveness of health information delivery to the public.
Consumers are more likely to utilize health information in a way that leads to health behavior change when that information is geared to their individual information processing style and it is perceived as relevant and credible. Providing the consumer with accessible, clear, fact-based health information is an important prerequisite before patients can assume an active role in health management. Research suggests that such information can empower and encourage confidence, especially for those with chronic illnesses.
Information tailoring and targeting are two recent strategies that are being used to increase the relevance of health information to consumers. Targeted communications are designed for a subgroup of individuals based on a set of presumed shared characteristics. Tailored communications are designed for an individual based on actual characteristics of the individual that have been measured. Successfully tailored print or web-based communications leading to improved outcomes have been documented in areas such as smoking cessation, physical activity, dietary change, and mammography uptake. The practice of tailoring may not always be efficient when considering larger populations with multiple health topics as it requires information to be gathered about each individual and new algorithms for materials development and delivery to be developed for each instance of health information provision.