Patient Engagement beyond Patient Portal

The healthcare industry has evolved at a rapid pace after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010. In the last 7 years, the dimensions of business and technology for every entity of healthcare were changed. The changes in the payment model (fee for value-based service) put the patient at the center  of this  horizon.

This helped to go toward achieving the ‘Triple Aim’ of healthcare:

 

Providers are facing multiple challenges while implementing the processes to achieve holistic population health management.’. Mostproviders offer a Patient Portal (a type of health portal) to their patients as a way of modernizing their patient engagement solutions. However, do  patients use the Patient Portal to the fullest? In our opinion, providers have a wide scope to implement new features to enhance patient engagement and optimally leverage their patient engagement strategies

Most providers jumped at adopting the Patient Portal to meet the MU1 and MU2 compliance requirements. However, the true benefits and potential of this patient engagement technology  has not been achieved. The patient and providers will experience the true benefit of the Patient Portal when proactive patient participation is part of the system. To achieve this,providers need to partner with patients at multiple levels. This will bolster patient participation.

Patient Engagement challenges in the existing ecosystem:

In the current healthcare ecosystem, most  providers are facilitate patient portals for compliance purposes only. If your Patient Portal is not utilized by the patient at the fullest, then the cost of the Patient Portal is an overhead for your practice. Beyond compliance, the organic usage of the Patient Portal by patients will be very helpful for practices.

Proposed changes in Patient Engagement Strategy

 

Patient Registration:

Patient registration, which needs admin staff,is always an activity for providers. . In busy hours, there could be more messy situations in which chances are high that admin staff would enter wrong patient information. This small mistake could lead to claim denial when the provider sends patient’s information to the payer.

Our Recommendations: Currently very few patient portals allow patients to pre-register before entering the hospital. This results in  extra costs the hospital needs to bear on registration staff. It also leads to chaos at hospital registration counters.. Patient portals should provide pre-registration to patients by entering all their demographic details and insurance information.

Patient Access:

In existing Patient Portal systems, the patient can view very limited and previously known information such asdemographic and scheduling .  The Patient Portal  should showcase the patient’s 360-degree view which gives a snapshot of actionable insights.

Our Recommendations: As mentioned above,  providers started providing patient information access to patients to meet MU compliance. Currently, a patient can view only limited information, which he/she already knows. The patient should able to view all his/her electronic health records, including episodic level medical history, real-time vital stats, and personalized patient education. This will be helpful to go towards patient participation. To implement these changes, wearable device integration and patient education material needs to be incorporated into the patient portal.

 Patient Participation:

The current Patient Portal gives very few opportunities to patients to participate in the care delivery process. One more reason for little patient participation is having limited information to view. If the patient can get access to more information, he/she might participate actively and get a better quality of care.

Our Recommendations: Currently patient participation is limited to scheduling. The patient should feel that he/she is a part of this system. This could be achieved by implementing new functionalities in a Patient Portal such as health related assessments at the time of scheduling an appointment, personalizing preferences for patient education, feedback for provider’s services, etc. In the long run, telemedicine could be a part of a Patient Portal to enhance patient participation.

Patient Conferring:

The goal of the Patient Portal should be the proactive participation of patients in the care delivery process. This will enable physicians to get more patient-centric data, which will be more insightful while generating actionable data. Currently, patient participation is limited to scheduling or sharing medical reports, etc. Sharing behavioral trends/changes and an intense feedback system will be helpful in  managing chronic diseases or for long term coordinated care.

Our Recommendations: The next level of patient participation will be patient conferring. Currently, very few patient portals allow the patient to participate in the care delivery process. The proactive participation of patients will be very  helpful for physicians to arrive  at an exact conclusion in a  short period. A continuous feedback system, sharing emotions,  behavioral patterns, and healthcare gamification scores are some  things which will enable patients to proactively participate in the care delivery process.

Patient’s Wellness:

In the last couple of years, wearable technologies have emerged. These can disrupt the growth of patient engagement. Tracking real-time vital stats via, for example, telehealth can be easily used to move from illness to wellness.

Our Recommendations: We feel that patient engagement can be achieved at its peak only if both clinical information and wellness information used in an appropriate way. Wearable device integration, real-time activity tracking, personalized and team wellness goals, rewards for goal accomplishment, etc. are viable avenues for investment. This type of wellness information will be very helpful for physicians to ensure quality of care and  clinical information.

As we know, a Patient Portal is not  the only tool for patient engagement. However, we feel that a Patient Portal is a platform in which most of the other patient engagement tools or ways could be merged seamlessly; for example, telemedicine, wearable data integration and much more.. We feel that ‘Patient Portal 2.0’ is an opportunity for providers to take their practice to the next level by offering an integrated patient experience.