“Without information, and without a voice, patients are unlikely to flip the switch to ‘on.'"In his pitch to define the road from patient engagement to empowerment, Brian Eastwood discusses the ways in which technology can give patients access to their own medical data. “Without information, and without a voice,” Eastwood argues, “patients are unlikely to flip the switch to ‘on.’” However, he confesses that empowerment may take more than access to information technology. Empowerment will only occur when patients learn to communicate with their doctors and understand their role in the decisions made about their healthcare. Recently at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2014 annual meeting, Richard L. Schilsky, MD called patient engagement one of the four advances revolutionizing cancer care. Dr. Schilsky shares, “what we are really talking about is a circumstance where patients are feeling much more empowered, much bolder, and much better equipped to really participate in making key decisions that affect their health and their healthcare than ever before.” He argues that focusing on patient engagement will affect medical practice and research in oncology; however, this revolution will also impact medicine at large. So what is the patient’s perspective? Ian Worden, in his blog post, puts himself in the patient’s shoes, concluding, “patients don’t necessarily seek to 'engage' instead they 'respond' to healthcare encounters in a way that either increases or decreases their motivation and commitment to actively participate in their care.” Rather than focusing on technological solutions, Worden asserts that personalized healthcare should be designed to empathize and nurture the patient, guiding them through the healthcare process. Beginning this year, many healthcare organizations are now focusing on Stage 2 Meaningful Use - promoting patient engagement and improving information exchange between providers and patients. One benchmark for healthcare providers is to demonstrate that five percent of patients are actively using patient portals. In this post, Zachary Landman, M.D. acknowledges the nation’s need for patient engagement strategies to meet this benchmark, putting the issue of patient activation front-and-center on many hospitals’ agendas. In her NPR article, Dr. Leana Wen provides a poignant instance of miscommunication between patient and physicians, highlighting the heart of the challenge to engage patients. In her anecdote, the physicians believed they delivered excellent emergency care, treating the patient immediately, while the patient and his wife believed they were treated poorly, lacking the opportunity to take part in the decision-making. “In modern medicine, we are fortunate to have incredible high-tech options available,” Dr. Wen argues, “but we must not forget the low-tech approaches that can improve communication and quality of care.” Compiled and Written by Right Question Intern Jessica Faust.