I’m a grown man who’s afraid of needles. Yes, that’s an inconvenient fear in the time of vaccines and booster shots. This irrational dread plagued me when I scheduled my Covid vaccine. I hoped to at least book an appointment at a pleasant urgent-care clinic that would soothe my nerves. Or perhaps a modern retail pharmacy that offered easy online scheduling.
But the only appointment I could get was at NYC Health+Hospital’s Coney Island Hospital in New York.
I didn’t expect much. It’s public health, after all. So, when I walked into the hospital, anticipating dingy hallways staffed by soulless zombies, I was shocked to be greeted by friendly and helpful staff who admitted me—right on time—to a modern and clean facility. The nurse administering my vaccine couldn’t have been more supportive.
I walked away a changed man—slightly less afraid of needles, and with a different perspective on public health. Somehow, the largest public health provider in the country managed to capture my initial visit and create a customer for life. How? This public health organization had started viewing patients as consumers, much like its private, national counterparts.
It made me think: If NYC Health+Hospitals can do it, surely more public health providers can make their patient experience positively pleasant, just like large, well-funded private systems have been doing for a while.
The key: treating patients as consumers who have a choice in where they receive their care.
COVID has certainly turned patients into savvy telehealth consumers.
The mantra of the American consumer has always been, “I know what I want, and I want it now.” We apply this to everything from clothes to cars to computers. But healthcare, especially virtual care? Not so much. Prior to Covid-19, however, most consumers didn’t even know immediate, remote access to healthcare was an option. They simply accepted clunky EHR portals, long wait times and in-person visits where virtual would suffice.
By Chris Evanguelidi, director, enterprise healthcare Market, Redpoint Global
The growing healthcare consumerism trend has empowered millions of patients and healthcare consumers to take more control over their individual healthcare journeys, in and out of the doctor’s office. Healthcare is no longer viewed as strictly a relationship between a patient and a doctor, but as a collection of disparate experiences all geared toward improving outcomes.
Wearables, telehealth, patient portals and other digital-first touchpoints all contribute to an expectation among patients for a consistent experience centered around their ongoing care and well-being. To meet the expectation for a personalized experience, healthcare providers are prioritizing the development of an understanding of their patients outside of a clinical setting.
A recent Dynata survey, conducted in collaboration with Redpoint Global, explored consumer perceptions about their healthcare experiences. The research revealed that more than half of consumers surveyed (57%) said that how well a healthcare provider understands them as a patient and creates a personalized experience was one of the most important considerations when choosing a healthcare provider. In addition, poor patient experience and a lack of personalization and patient understanding was cited by survey respondents as the top reasons patients consider switching healthcare providers (as well as healthcare plans).
Engage with Consistent Relevance
What does it mean, though, to develop a personal understanding of a patient? An electronic health record (EHR) – a modern version of the traditional chart – often lacks important data that reveals a contextual understanding of what makes a patient unique. And by having this data, providers are then able to engage a patient with a relevant experience across the healthcare journey. Data such as social determinants of health (SDOH), medication adherence, risk tolerance, diet and exercise programs and data from wearables are important attributes that reveal patient behaviors and preferences that form a personal understanding.
Possessing this detailed knowledge of behaviors and preferences also aligns with the value-based care approach to healthcare. In parallel with the rise in healthcare consumerism, a value-based care model that ties financial compensation to improved outcomes makes it even more important for providers to compile a single patient view.
One key challenge for providers in compiling a single patient view that is then used to deliver a personalized omnichannel experience is siloed data and processes. A single provider network or healthcare organization, for example, often has multiple EHRs that don’t share data. In addition, because PII data and PHI data also typically live in separate systems, it is extremely difficult for healthcare organizations to deliver hyper-relevant communications.
Consider, for example, a marketing organization tasked with closing care gaps and segmenting out only basic patient data – name, age, address, etc. They might send an email to men over 50 urging them to schedule a preventive screening. With a single patient view, however, the same marketing team might improve outcomes considerably by matching the recipient to a preferred provider, recommending optimal times, offering transportation options to someone without access to transportation or leveraging other social determinants. By delivering the right message at the right time and on the right channel, the preferred outcome – a scheduled appointment/closed care gap – has a higher chance of success.
Close the Experience Gap
By knowing all that is knowable about a patient through a single patient view, an organization can leverage advanced segmentation rules based on everything that makes a patient unique – current health condition, social determinants of health, etc. – to allow for efficient and effective personalized messages and communications to key segments, returning the most value for a provider group or health plan. Particularly in a VBC healthcare model, there is a direct revenue link between hyper-personalized content through advanced segmentation and improving health outcomes.
The Dynata survey shows a pronounced gap between the type of experience healthcare consumers expect to receive from their provider and the experience delivered. More than 90 percent of patients said that it is either “important” or “very important” to receive relevant communications from their provider and healthcare plan that accurately reflect an understanding of their healthcare journey, yet just 50% say they are very satisfied with the relevance of the communication they receive.
A single view of the patient is the key to closing the experience gap, finally delivering patients and healthcare consumers the personalized omnichannel experiences that improve outcomes and lead to happier, healthier patients.
Mental healthcare providers are facing a crisis. The growing number of Americans seeking mental health care is putting a strain on psychologists, and it’s affecting those who need help the most.
In fact, according to the 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner ImpactSurvey by the American Psychological Association (APA), roughly 53% of psychologists agreed that they work more than they did a year ago. Moreover, the same survey revealed that 60% of psychologists are unable to take on new patients because they’re already at capacity.
Mental health care providers need help to handle this influx of patients. This is where healthcare IT comes in. By helping providers manage their schedules and keep track of patient information, healthcare IT can help ease the burden on psychologists and allow them to meet their patients’ needs more effectively.
By Subhro Mallik, SVP and head of life sciences business unit, Infosys
One in five Americans suffers from chronic pain. Apart from disrupting lives, chronic pain costs the U.S. about $300 billion in productivity every year. Treatment usually involves different types of interventions, such as medication, exercise therapy, cognitive behavioral treatment etc., and the participation of both patients and their healthcare providers. Unfortunately, a highly inadequate pain management infrastructure, which has fewer than 6,000 physicians for treating 50 million patients, is unable to give patients the one-on-one attention they need.
Because they are not supervised, many patients fail to keep up with the prescribed exercise regimen, which happens to be all-important for rehabilitating chronic pain. But now, there is a real possibility for care givers to use digital interventions to remotely monitor and engage with patients to improve compliance as well as treatment outcomes.
Several digital solutions, including mobile apps, sensors, digital medical devices, fitness trackers and wearables, play a role in chronic pain therapy. What’s more, they can be applied across lines of treatment to achieve different purposes – from improving medication adherence to enabling telerehabilitation. A major benefit of digital intervention is that it allows providers to design personalized treatment plans in collaboration with patients, which has been linked to improvement in self-care. Last but not least, these tools help pain management physicians and care givers stay connected to their patients. Here are some scenarios:
Connect with patients to motivate and engage
Providers can deploy a digital platform to gather data from patients’ mobile apps, fitness trackers, and devices to track exercise performance; this insight tells them if they need to personally intervene with feedback or a revised program. The platform itself can also act as a virtual coach, gamifying the exercise routine, supervising patients and motivating them to do better.
Studies show that better engagement makes a significant impact on treatment outcomes. When patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain were given a combination of education, sensor-guided exercise therapy, and one-on-one remote health coaching over a twelve-week-long program, they displayed high engagement and also reported reduction in pain.
By Victoria Wickline, SVP of partnership success, Get Well.
More than 2.5 years after COVID-19 was first identified as a global health crisis, the healthcare industry continues to grapple with the challenges the pandemic has laid bare, including harsh realities surrounding unequal distribution of care and health inequities.
As patients avoided hospitals and doctors’ offices, conditions like cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses went undiagnosed or untreated during the pandemic. In the first four months of 2020, breast cancer screenings were down by 89% and colorectal cancer screenings were down by 85%. As a result, The National Cancer Institute anticipates a surge in cancer death and predicts that the number of people who will die from breast or colorectal cancer in the United States will increase by nearly 10,000 over the next decade because of COVID-19’s impact on care.
Healthcare System’s Loss in Financial Revenue:
Besides the obvious detriment to public health, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations, these care gaps have drastically cost health systems financially. Revenue lost in 2021 was projected between $53 billion to $122 billion due to the lingering effects of COVID-19.
Fast forward to 2022, U.S. hospitals and health systems continue to struggle with regaining their financial health and many are facing another year of negative operating margins, with most organizations seeing declining margins, revenue, and inpatient volumes following the surge of the Omicron variant. Just this past month, the healthcare industry was reported to have the most job cuts compared to any industry in 2022 with a 54% increase in layoffs compared to numbers reported in June 2021.
Re-Engaging Patients Through Personalized, Digital Experiences:
Today, the healthcare industry is trying to pick up the pieces and health systems are looking to re-engage patients in their care — and improve the overall health of their patient populations as a result. To do so, health systems must redefine what the patient experience looks like. This re-engagement should center on providing a personalized, digital experience. Innovative AI-driven technology layered with an empathetic human element that adds a personal touch can lead to engaged patients and improved outcomes.
Leveraging AI-driven Technology for Patient Retention:
Healthcare organizations must reach out to patients where they are, with the information they need. This means not waiting for the patient to proactively engage and request care; information and scheduling resources should be at their fingertips. While everyone may not have access to the internet, the vast majority of the population – 97% – own a cellphone with access to text messages. In healthcare’s effort to digitize, we must also keep in mind not to marginalize underserved populations with lower socioeconomic statuses. However, with a read rate of approximately 99%, text messaging provides a solution to engage populations across all socioeconomic statuses with personalized messages to re-engage people who have been avoiding or delaying medical care, while fostering healthcare plan loyalty and closing care gaps.
But for this type of outreach to work, it must go beyond simple text messaging. Automated text messages sent to patients who need to schedule appointments is only a small slice of effective re-engagement. Successful personalized digital outreach should be based on a comprehensive 360-degree patient profile, ensuring that patient needs and offered resources are tailored to their particular health journey. This comprehensive patient profile should include patient-specific engagement data, such as the last time they visited their primary care physician, and personal preferences, including language choices. It should also incorporate location data, like what relevant providers are practicing in the patient’s preferred location.
The key is that behind the actual text messages is a real human providing personalized healthcare guidance. The combination of targeted outreach and human touch points will provide that personalized, digital experience that healthcare systems have been struggling to prosper. A tailored message that sounds authentic and empathetic can make a significant difference with re-engaging patients and driving them to take action with their care.
Don’t forget the Human Element:
The support of someone who can intervene, scale care, and escalate to care teams if needed means that the patient can more quickly get back on track with their care, and the healthcare organization can scale outreach and non-clinical tasks without additional internal resources.
“How do I access my medical records?” “I’m unsure how to schedule an appointment through my primary care provider?” “Where can I access this healthcare information?” These are all questions patients ask when navigating the healthcare system that need the human touch to ensure patients’ needs and resources are tailored to their particular health journey.
A high-tech digital strategy paired with high-touch human intervention combines the best of both worlds: innovative AI-driven technology and a caring touch that leads to engaged patients and improved outcomes. As an organizational retention strategy, this kind of holistic virtual care navigation can be a win for both health systems and the patients they serve.
A Digital-First Strategy That Yields Tangible Results:
Take Adventist Health for example, a nonprofit integrated health system that designed a digital-first patient outreach service that initially targeted adults who had not had a routine wellness appointment in the past 18-24 months. This outreach leveraged community-based virtual navigators and consisted of multiple SMS messages to engage patients and offer assistance with scheduling appointments with a primary care provider. Within four months, this digital-first strategy reached over 160,000 inactive patients and produced the following results:
92% of the identified dormant patients received SMS text outreach that offered assistance with scheduling healthcare appointments.
In total, more than 40,000 new wellness visits and follow-up visits were scheduled with primary care providers.
As a result, $7.9M was reclaimed in revenue for this specific patient population within just 15 weeks.
The Bottom Line
A digital-first consumer experience enables organizations to retain patients in networks, provides an enhanced experience, and improves patient health — all invaluable benefits, for both patients and providers alike. Every patient who receives outreach to re-engage them with their care is one more patient who is more aware and active in their own health journey. Revenue recapture is a positive side effect of ensuring that the healthcare industry is succeeding with what it’s meant to do — keeping populations healthier for the benefit of society.
By James Talcott, MD, SM, senior medical director, Oncology for Eviti, NantHealth.
A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that while the U.S. spends nearly two times more per capita on cancer treatments, related mortality rates were only nominally lower. The analysis was a cross-sectional review of 22 high-income countries assessing the correlation between cancer treatment expenditures and 2020-associated fatalities.
In fact, nine of those listed—countries that invested significantly less in cancer care—have lower mortality rates. This study proposes an interesting new perspective: increased spending does not guarantee better results.
So how, then, can we optimize care? As new cancer treatments are constantly emerging, it can become overwhelming for providers to sift through data and treatment options to find the most appropriate—and cost-effective—plan for patients. Oftentimes, patients see quicker and more efficacious results when directed to the right treatment plan early on. This is where early intervention and treatment-validation technology becomes a key factor in optimized cancer care.
Improved Visibility and Patient Empowerment
Treatment-validation technology connects payers and providers, offering access to an advanced research library platform supplying tools and data analytics for the delivery of high-quality care. Clinicians can view thousands of proven treatment regimens, federally registered clinical trials, expected treatment outcomes, and predicted costs, all during the process of curating the best plan for their patients.
The ultimate goal in cancer care is singling out the most efficient and direct treatment plan—bypassing lengthy (and often costly) trial and error methods. In addition, when the patient is empowered with options and stated preferences, based on provider information, they help gain an understanding of the benefits as well as potential side effects of available treatments. This builds and promotes important conversations between them and their physician about their treatment course ahead.
Whether they are receiving care for a chronic condition or a more immediate disease, patients undergoing treatment are financially, mentally, emotionally and physically maxed out. As a result, healthcare payers must toe a delicate line when approaching their member engagement strategies. For something as significant as an individual’s health, it’s critical to provide tailored experiences that are contextually relevant and avoid inundating members with extraneous information. Above all, engagements must provide value if payers are aiming to establish lasting healthy habits and create members for life.
Engagement, as defined in this context, is the way in which brands intimately connect with their members; consistent engagement affords endless opportunities to establish valuable and meaningful relationships. Until now, transactional experiences – such as onboarding, appointment reminders and claims information – have been the primary focus of member engagements. However, if payers want to serve a more unified experience, they must demonstrate ongoing care and understanding of their specific patient needs through personal interactions served during pivotal moments in each unique healthcare journey.
In 2021, healthcare payer website portal usage fell to 32% while only 16% of U.S. adults with health insurance used their provider’s mobile app, according to research from Forrester. Mailchimp puts the average email open rate for healthcare at a bleak 22%. If meaningful engagements can improve sentiment, lower costs and drive member retention, it’s obvious why 57% of healthcare payer executives seek better service and engagement as one of their top three outcomes of digital transformation.
But if portals, apps and email marketing aren’t the answer – what is? Feeds are quickly becoming the medium and channel of choice for meaningful digital engagement. Intuitive, easy to use and designed with consumer habits in mind, feeds are familiar and comfortable for users as many have been exposed to their scrollable nature through social media platforms such as TikTok or LinkedIn. Feeds offer personalized content via tailored algorithms, value users’ scarce time and present low barriers to entry. By implementing feeds, healthcare payers can harness the positive benefits of an engaged patient population. Below are some of the advantages of engaged members for life:
Patient centricity has quickly become the biggest buzzword in medicine and clinical research – but it is much more than a trend. Patient centric clinical research allows the healthcare industry to deliver more holistic outcomes for patients, meaning that new treatments not only deliver the desired outcome, but also leave intact or even improve the patient’s quality of life while they are undergoing treatment. As a result of this shift, implementing strategies for capturing the patient’s voice in clinical research has become a top priority for the biopharma industry.
Patients today certainly have more advocacy and are playing a more active role in clinical trial planning and data collection as a condition of their participation, which is a major contributor to this shift. However, regulators and payers are also driving the shift by showing increasing interest in the perspectives of patients as they review submissions for new drug approvals. Electronic clinical outcomes assessments (eCOAs) have emerged as an effective approach to capturing these patient insights that can make or break the trial by giving them a structured platform for reporting their experiences and capturing those reports in measurable and meaningful ways.
What are eCOAs?
An eCOA is a digital approach to capturing patient experience data in traditional clinical trials and real-world studies. During the pandemic, eCOAs shot to prominence in the research space as sponsors sought out more agile tools to capture patient data remotely. At this critical point in time for agile research, eCOAs made it easier for investigators and sponsors to keep track of patient progress outside of the site environment’s confines and collect more patient-specific information to support the safety and efficacy of treatments and their impact on patients’ quality of life.
eCOAs are custom-built interactive assessments that clinical trial participants are prompted to respond to, through provided or personal devices. They allow patients, clinicians, and caregivers to directly report outcomes, supplying real-time insights, and high-quality data collection. These digital assessments have led the way in simplifying patient engagement and amplifying the voice and experience of patience.
DeliverHealth, a global provider of technology-enabled solutions for hospitals, health systems and group practices, announced today that its mobile-first patient engagement software has earned top customer satisfaction scores in a KLAS Emerging Technology Spotlight report.
KLAS states in its recent Emerging Technology Spotlight on DeliverHealth’s Gemini digital health capability, “Though the software is relatively new, early adopters highlight DeliverHealth’s close partnership, proactive customer service, and strong go-live execution.”
Mac Boyter, research director, KLAS Research, said, “Of the clients we spoke with for our report on DeliverHealth’s Gemini Digital front door solution, 100% of the respondents when asked about their overall customer satisfaction reported being ‘highly satisfied.’ They also reported A+ metrics on all key performance indicators like supporting integration goals, and executive involvement.”
In addition, 100% of the customers surveyed said they would buy the patient engagement solution again. KLAS, now in its 26th year, publishes unbiased customer data and insights on software, services, and medical equipment. Read more about DeliverHealth’s report here.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced patients and healthcare providers alike to accept new ways to stay in touch, communicate, and to ask and give advice – which, in turn, catalyzed adoption of digital tools.
Although patients might not have thought to request them, the vast majority appreciated the convenience of digital tools, with one survey finding that 90% of people who used digital health tools during the pandemic rated their experience as good. Another poll found that 77% of Americans have been very or completely satisfied with their virtual health visits.
A big part of the shift speaks to the meta-trend of the digitized customer experience. Today’s healthcare patients are used to ordering pizza through a website, checking their bank accounts with a native smartphone app, and interfacing with a touchscreen kiosk to pay for the bus. We receive personalized marketing, customized discounts, and even our massage therapists send us automated texts when it’s been a while since we’ve booked a session.
In this context, having to arrive at a clinic in person to receive blood test results seems ridiculously outdated.
“Consumers expect to engage and transact online,” says Jack Brock, Head of Healthcare Provider Practice at Cognizant. “They are used to frictionless, intelligent, and digitally enabled experiences, such as seeing recommendations based on purchase histories or securely moving funds on a mobile app. That’s the standard healthcare providers must match.”
It’s beyond time for healthcare to join the 21st century. Today, patients say they appreciate digital tools – but it won’t be long before they expect it and get irritated at providers who don’t embrace the tech. Some 60% said that using digital health tools increased their trust in healthcare providers, so those providers who stay ahead of the curve and use tech to maximize engagement will reap the benefits, while those who lag behind will feel the consequences.
If you’re still trying to get with the digital program, here are five ways that tech can help you supercharge your patient engagement.