Patient engagement. The buzzword sounds off through the medical community on a daily basis, and although it has admittedly been open to many interpretations over the years, the overarching concept remains the same: engaging the patient in their own healthcare. Conferences are popping up all over the country in full force to stand behind patient engagement, and they are doing it with good reason.

It’s proven to improve the quality of healthcare while simultaneously reducing costs. Take Mercy Clinic’s chronic disease outreach program, for instance. By employing health coaches to inspire change in patient behavior, the program puts together actionable lists for patients during their hospital visits. They then help coordinate care transitions in addition to conducting pre and post-vital assessments. Patients who participate in the program generally score 90% on the HEDIS measures, like blood pressure control and blood sugar levels. With respect to cost-effectiveness, an analysis of the study concluded that for every dollar spent on the program yields four dollars in revenue.

Yet another advancement from Hackensack Alliance Accountable Care Organization is demonstrating tremendous benefits as well. It’s a remote monitoring and care management tool that enables patients to keep tabs on their disease without ever leaving their home. The tool has helped to immensely reduce hospital visits while significantly increasing patient self-management.

There are other such tools starting to gain popularity as well. To be more specific, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has created, which essentially gives patients access to their own clinical records as well as the option to review the accuracy of any current allergy and medication lists. Recently, a study (corrected for health status and other factors)  was conducted that surveyed 30,000 patients and it found that the patients with the lowest activation scores on the website actually paid costs 8% to 21% higher than those with the highest activation scores. Such a statistic speaks volumes about how even just making information more available can tremendously benefit patient communities.

These facts are especially important to remember when considering the future influx of baby boomers and the effect they are bound to have on the healthcare industry at large. Medicare beneficiaries, for instance, are expected to increase by an astounding 60 percent, from fifty to eighty million.

That’s where ACOs come in. They need to work harder to engage patients so that patients can pay less and receive better care while hospitals simultaneously make more money. We are on the cusp of a healthcare revolution and it’s time we started acting like it. Patient engagement is where it all starts.