Fostering Patient Engagement Through Mobile Technology

As patients seek to exert greater control over their healthcare journeys, healthcare providers are seeing a larger shift to technology. Automated tools have made other aspects of their lives more convenient and patients want to use these types of solutions to improve their healthcare experiences.

 

Consumers have become increasingly dependent on mobile devices to make travel reservations, order food, bank and video chat. Their expectations for interacting with healthcare providers also have increased dramatically. They look for convenience and simplicity from providers for scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, communicating with physicians and other medical staff and for completing paperwork before appointments.

Healthcare organizations that recognize the shift in embracing technology have the opportunity to streamline care and help patients become more engaged in their own care.

Healthcare organizations that use patient-centric technology tend to have more engaged patients than those that rely on manual, paper-based processes. Satisfied patients are more loyal and often become ambassadors for the organization — helping to attract and retain customers. Staying connected to providers through mobile patient engagement technology, encourages patients to be more involved with their care which ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Mobile options to consider

Patient portals are the most commonly used patient engagement technology. Integrated with electronic health records, patients can access key health information including test results through the portal. In many cases, patients also are able to request prescription refills, pay bills and schedule appointments through their portal. Secure messaging allows patients to communicate with their providers and sometimes can help avoid trips to the doctor’s office or can allow providers to identify potentially serious issues before they escalate.

Two-way patient-provider communication also reinforces that healthcare organizations care for their patients and are invested in their long-term health. By allowing patients to use the portal with their own mobile technology, healthcare providers can make interactions more efficient and effective.

Beyond portals, providers can integrate solutions that enable electronic patient registration and document signing. Leveraging these solutions can smooth patient access and eliminate the tedious process of completing paperwork while waiting to see the doctor. In some cases, patients can even use their personal handheld devices to sign consent forms and complete documents. Some solutions allow patients to register from the comfort of their homes before heading to the healthcare organization — leading to a much more efficient patient experience. These tools also streamline registration for the healthcare organization because the registrar no longer has to manually follow up on incomplete information.

Having information early also allows the provider to better prepare for the upcoming visit — contributing to increased patient safety and a more efficient billing and documentation process.

Patient wellness apps also are an emerging patient engagement technology that present a unique opportunity for healthcare providers. Organizations that access data from these apps can keep tabs on a patient’s health outside of their care visit. Not only are providers able to spot potential problems before they become serious issues, they also can intervene with education, coaching and other strategies to reduce the need for costly visits. They are able to provide a more customized care experience because they have a more longitudinal view of the patient’s health and wellness. Although many organizations are just starting to explore these applications, their use likely will become more prevalent in the future.

Advancements show no signs of stopping

As technology continues to evolve, healthcare organizations will continue to explore and leverage mobile solutions to better engage patients and make care more convenient and efficient. Organizations that embrace this idea can dramatically improve their relationships with patients, making care more accessible and even more effective. The organizations that remain committed to engaging patients using mobile technology stand to better serve their patients with increased satisfaction, cost savings and improved engagement.

 

Citation

  1. Eramo, Lisa A. “How to Improve Patient Engagement through Technology.” Medical Economics, 10 July 2017, www.medicaleconomics.com/medical-economics-blog/how-improve-patient-engagement-through-technology.
  2. “How MHealth Technology Supports Patient Engagement Strategies.” Edited by Sara Heath, PatientEngagementHIT, 17 Oct. 2016, patientengagementhit.com/features/how-mhealth-technology-supports-patient-engagement-strategies.
  3. Sawesi, Suhila, et al. “The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” JMIR Medical Informatics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.2196/medinform.4514.
  4. “What Patient Engagement Technology Is Good For.” Edited by Sandra Gittlen, NEJM Catalyst, 21 July 2017, catalyst.nejm.org/patient-engagement-technology-good-for/.

 

Top 5 Healthcare Trends That Aren’t Going Anywhere

  • Patient Experience is Paramount

Patients are increasingly demanding the same consumer-centric experience they are receiving in retail settings when they are receiving medical care. It all starts with understanding your population and patient personalization. How do they like to receive care? How do they like to communicate with providers? Who is their preferred doctor? Next, you can build out technology and other solutions to customize the care you provide.

Most providers offer patient portals for viewing lab results and upcoming appointments. Many patients find these portals frustrating to access and not user friendly. Many patients also want online appointment scheduling and cancellation. They want waiting lists in the case of an earlier canceled appointment. They want to contact providers through electronic means/real time/video/email. They want convenient extended hours.

Improving communication and delivering a more retail-focused experience will go a long way towards developing patient loyalty.

  • Lower Cost Healthcare is a Necessity

Lowering the cost of healthcare is imperative, not only for providers facing budget pressure, but for consumers who are shouldering more and more of the cost of care and for payers who are looking to minimize reimbursements for unnecessary procedures.

The goal for providers is how to deliver the best results while keeping costs down. In fact, 41% name financial constraints as the force that will cause the greatest disruption in healthcare this year. Increased budget pressure should increase innovation in delivery of quality care.

Consumers are increasingly struggling with rising drug prices and more cost responsibility due to high deductible plans. It’s likely we will see pricing models including paying prescriptions over time, rather than all at once. We can also expect to see increased governmental regulation to curb rising prices. In addition to this, the FDA has created new initiatives designed to unleash more competition that can moderate drug price trends. These include encouraging new market entrants to rapidly start developing generics in classes where there is no competition, streamlining the generic drug approval process, promoting biosimilars and taking steps to prevent branded drug makers from exploiting programs

During 2018, we predict an increase in consumer-focused medical plans. What consumers want in a plan is convenience and value. To achieve that goal, we will likely see bundled finance offerings with plans, loyalty programs similar to frequent flyer miles, professionals (similar to a financial planner) who manage one’s health spending.

Payers will continue to become more involved in the provider side as a way of controlling costs. They will continue to create policies, design plans, and narrow provider networks.

  • Changing Governmental Regulations

45% of providers name government regulations as the force that will cause the greatest disruption in healthcare this year. Tax reform, healthcare reform, and governmental requirements will all significantly impact how the industry provides and pays for care.

With the probable reduction of the corporate tax rate, we will see change in the way companies invest, structure, and hold profits.

Efforts continue to loosen Affordable Care Act consumer protections and mandates, cut Medicaid spending, and expand access to lower-premium health insurance.

49% of providers cited increased regulatory and reimbursement requirements as the issue most likely to impact their orgs future. Providers worry the unknowns will affect bottom line, morale, and workflow.

For the foreseeable future, the healthcare industry will continue to see inconsistency in government policies and funding. This is especially dangerous for hospitals in underserved communities that rely almost exclusively on Medicaid and Medicare funding. Unless they are supported in some way, many of these providers will sink deeper into debt.

  • The Shift to Non-Inpatient Care

47% of hospital revenue is currently from outpatient care, and this is expected to continue to rise, as inpatient care is more expensive and hospitals are looking for ways to cut costs. This can benefit patients, as they are looking for quicker and more convenient care. Ambulatory surgery centers are increasingly used for low risk patients who require a surgery. Care is moving from the hospital into the community giving consumers the quick and convenient access they desire.

Telemedicine and virtual care is currently offered by 75% of institutions. This growth is driven by patients’ desire for more convenient care. Reimbursement is currently the main barrier to expanding these offerings.

  • Consolidations, Partnerships and Mergers, Oh My!

There is a new form of competition emerging: providers and payers are organizing themselves into vertically-integrated, high-value care and financing networks. Insurers, physician groups, health systems, and even retail organizations are each seeking to compete as high value care and financing networks.

Providers and payers have increasingly worked collaboratively. Payer-provider partnerships vary in type, size, location and model. There are 50/50 joint ventures with co-branding, and less intensive partnerships like pay for performance, accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes and bundled payments.

Employers are getting into the game, too. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase partnering to cut costs and improve service to their employees could be a game changer, as they target tech solutions to simplify the healthcare system.

We expect to see the industry become increasingly hybridized with more and more partnerships, consolidations and mergers.

You Have Abundant Data, But Are You Maximizing It?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the widespread adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), hospitals are collecting more data than ever before Effectively analyzed and applied, this data can be used to increase efficiency of care, boost revenue, cut costs and improve health.

However, as more information becomes available, some hospitals are having difficulty parsing what data is useful. As providers begin to understand the available data, curate it and ensure the people working with it can understand what is being measured, this undertaking will lead to improvements in several key areas.

1. Population Health 

Data can be analyzed to examine the health and wellness of patient populations. With insights into socio-economics, genetics and patient history, providers can more thoroughly understand their patients and create better treatment plans. Data and analytics will allow providers better insight into population health epidemics such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more recently, opioid overuse.

A number of potentially dangerous chronic conditions have emerged as major risk factors for the U.S. population, which has experienced an increasingly and extremely high obesity rate in recent years. Analytics will help to test and confirm health models for populations so providers can identify at-risk patients.

2. Improved Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes

Providers already know through their daily experience what is taking place. With a shift toward predictive analytics, healthcare providers can plan for what is most likely to happen in the future. This information helps predict which patient are potentially at-risk and create treatment plans to proactively address diseases.

With widespread EHR adoption and the progress in genome sequencing, physicians now have enough information to identify consistent patterns in symptoms and create accurate patient profiles.

As a result, there has been a boost in precision medicine. As David Shaywitz, chief medical officer at DNAnexus, a cloud-based data analysis and management platform for DNA sequence data, wrote in his article for Forbes: The core premise … of precision medicine … is that the integration of genetic information, Electronic Medical Record data and rich dynamic phenotypic information will enable sophisticated patient segmentation, revealing biologically distinct subgroups and pointing the way to precisely targeted treatments.

This will lead to the end of “one-size-fits-all” treatments in favor of personalized, more effective treatment. Instead of treating a patient for cancer, we will be able to define their specific symptoms of the disease, their individual condition and medical history — and even their genetic makeup — in order to tailor treatment and increase the chance of a positive outcome.

3. Reduced Costs

One of the many ways that predictive analytics help cut costs is by reducing the rate of hospital readmissions.

“The idea of predictive analytics comes in looking for relationships that are consistent with readmission that we would not have predicted or we did not understand before,” Mark Wolff, chief health analytics strategist for SAS Institute and an analytics software developer, says in a post on the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Enterprise.nxt blog. “Once we identify those relationships, we can set up protocols on how to deal with this type of patient and manage things to prevent readmission.”

UNC Healthcare, working to reduce readmissions, combined EHR information with geographic and socioeconomic data to better identify current patients at a high risk for readmission. UNC is working on ways to embed that intelligence into workflows to keep track of those high-risk patients to decrease the likelihood that health problems will occur. The predictive models they developed were more than 30 percent accurate at identifying at-risk patients.

 4. Improved Patient Safety

According to the white paper How to Use Data to Improve Patient Safety, adverse events in healthcare are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. — proving that while the industry may have done work and performed research to improve patient safety, it’s made little to no progress. In fact, patients today are experiencing 10 times the rate of preventable harm as they were in the 1990s. Without a data-driven, all-cause approach to patient safety, history will continue to repeat itself.

With initiatives around data-driven patient safety, health systems will have the tools they need to achieve better outcomes. Analytics will leverage integrated data and predictive analysis with machine learning to address organizational weakness and increase patient safety.

Improving Healthcare in Partnership with Vizient™

At Taylor Healthcare, we always are looking for new ways to help our healthcare customers increase value. To help achieve that goal, we have entered a new 3-year agreement with Vizient™. Combining the strengths of VHA, University HealthSystem Consortium, Novation and MedAssets SCM and Sg2, Vizient is the nation’s largest member-owned healthcare services company—providing increased scale in purchasing.

Busy Nurse’s Station In Modern Hospital

This new partnership with Vizient will allow us to provide exceptional savings in multiple critical communications categories for the nation’s top hospitals and health systems.

Our team will work with Vizient members to lower costs; simplify compliance; improve patient safety and care; reduce risk and deter fraud; and improve operational efficiency.

The new agreement is effective from today until December 14, 2019, with the option for two one-year extensions. Our long-term commitment to Vizient members means we’ll be able to establish stronger relationships and consistently deliver outstanding service and exceptional value.

We’re pleased to offer special pricing and terms for several categories including:

Core Categories:

  • Custom Forms
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Labels
  • Custom Envelopes
  • Custom Filing Solutions
  • Commercial Printing

Ancillary Categories:

  • Promotional Products
  • Patient Identification Solutions
  • Stock Medical Labels
  • Stock Paper
  • Stock Medical Forms

In addition to these categories, we also are able to offer Vizient members our full suite of technology solutions at specially negotiated pricing and terms. Learn more about the agreement