Patient engagement is gaining rapid popularity in the healthcare community today with good reason. Yet, while most healthcare providers and establishments recognize the value to patient engagement, many are unaware of how to efficiently implement it. They lack the knowledge to introduce profitable patient engagement solutions—and this only makes sense.

Not only is patient engagement only recently gaining substantial traction in mainstream media, but it’s so personalized to each and every player in healthcare. DPCs and doctors both need to address patient engagement, but they need to do so in their own way that maximizes efficiency, improves the patient experience, and more than anything else, is sustainable. The healthcare industry needs long-lasting patient engagement solutions, not patchwork band-aid repairs bound to fall apart in five years.

When healthcare officials look to make patient engagement a reality, they should start with the patient and work backward. Although the tools to implement patient engagement seem fairly apparent, like social media, patient communities, and even car services, the challenge is that providers do not have a lot of evidence about what actually works and what doesn’t.

As a result, patient engagement, and ultimately facilitating the patient experience, is actually a collaborative effort. According to Nilay Shah, MD, Associate Professor of Health Services Research at the Mayo Clinic, providers should “concentrate on user-centered design and make apps minimally disruptive patients and clinicians.” This is because even once patient engagement software is approved for widespread use (a battle in its own right), the patient themselves need to actually use the tools available to them.

That’s perhaps the reason my recent blog post on community health workers or CHWs, is so relevant. These community health workers can expose patients to various tools that will make their care more effective and easier to attain. Although patient engagement tools are increasing in number and are becoming more effective, they largely remain unknown to the public at large. CHWs pose an opportunity to rectify this lack of exposure, and can teach patients how to receive the nuanced care they deserve.

The healthcare system is a confusing entity for even medical professionals, but it’s nearly incomprehensible to an outsider. By focusing on the patient’s perspective, professionals stand to provide clarity, streamline care, and more importantly, save lives.