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.
By Jeremy Dadzie, digital health strategist, Anexinet.
The healthcare industry has one of the worst reputations when it comes to customer experience. A recent Salesforce study revealed that nearly half of consumers are unhappy with their healthcare experience, and a vast majority feel healthcare organizations are more focused on the needs of the industry than on the needs of the patient.
Healthcare providers are beginning to realize just how dramatically a patient-centric approach improves customer loyalty—especially now that COVID has wreaked havoc in almost every industry.
The advent of digital innovations gives the healthcare industry a novel opportunity to enhance customer experience like never before. Customer expectations (especially for millennials) have increased. Meeting these expectations won’t be easy, but by staying patient-centric in the approach, and leveraging innovative technologies. such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Internet of Health, healthcare providers can create solutions that not only enhance the digital experience but also increase profitability.
Here are a few ways to can improve patient experience:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, telehealth has emerged as an invaluable part of care delivery. And by all indications, virtual care is here to stay even after the threat of COVID-19 passes — in large part because of consumer demand. In a report by Qualtrics commissioned by Zoom, 61% of respondents in the U.S. who have used video for healthcare said they plan to attend healthcare appointments both virtually and in person in the future.
The key elements are choice and competition. Consumers want to be able to choose how and where they receive care — and that may include retail and direct-to-consumer solutions or their primary care provider. Sometimes an in-person appointment may be preferred or required, and other times, patients want to save time and money by using high-quality telehealth options.
As more healthcare organizations look beyond the pandemic to building long-term telehealth and virtual care solutions, reliability, consistency, and quality are key to driving adoption, building trust, and improving the patient experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Find a solution that integrates into your workflows
When the right technology meets the right application, it becomes nearly invisible to end users. That’s what providers and patients want: a telehealth solution that “just works” and feels as comfortable and intuitive as something they’ve been using for years. The ability to integrate and customize plays a key role in creating that experience.
During the pandemic, I met with many healthcare organizations who stressed that they need their telehealth solution to live in the workflows they use every day.
If your telehealth solution doesn’t sit comfortably in your workflows, it could lead to a variety of issues. If providers need to switch between multiple platforms in their day-to-day work, it could potentially increase time spent on administrative tasks, limit time with patients, and lead to missed appointments and lost revenue. Administrators may find that a parallel workflow duplicates efforts and costs, while an integrated solution could streamline processes and cut down on inefficient spending.
Look for a telehealth solution that has the ability to integrate with your EHR or HIT system, or allows for integration with open platforms through APIs, the latter of which provides flexibility and customization opportunities. A seamless integration enables providers to focus on practicing medicine without fiddling with controls or toggling between platforms.
In 2021 patients expect a digital health experience that is on par with their favorite consumer brand. While COVID has forced many healthcare services to rapidly adopt digital services, we’re still a long way from giving patients and the organizations managing these new services a good experience.
From a patient’s, perspective being able to text, email, or video chat with their doctor is increasingly becoming a must-have for the “modern patient experiencet”. In 2019 alone, 91% of patients survey by DrFirst wanted the ability to text a care team member. 
While some organizations have either built or bought tools that allow them to meet their patient’s expectations, the result has largely resulted in an inefficient workflow for care team members given the number of tools required to complete the job. In addition to that, it provides care team members with an incomplete view of a patient given that data is often being stored in separate places.
What do patients want?
Patients want care to be convenient and personalized to them. As the common saying goes “no two people are alike”. Whether it’s their preference of how they receive care such as in-person, video, text, etc, or how thorough of an explanation they want about a diagnosis, the saying holds true.
The 2019 NRC Health Healthcare Consumer Trends report found that 51.3% of patients value convenient access to care more than anything when deciding whether or not to stay with a provider.  To meet the demand from their patients, companies have had to scramble to find viable options that make care convenient. However, this additional convenience comes at a cost for care team members managing the process.
COVID-19 has disrupted industries, and nowhere is it more apparent than in healthcare. Given the urgency of addressing the pandemic – from ensuring new protocols are in place amidst the pandemic, prioritizing capacity and delivering healthcare services in new manners – the concept of the “patient experience” may have been put on the backburner for many in the industry. That is a mistake.
Now, moreso than ever, is the time to put the patient experience front and center. People are re-evaluating how they consume healthcare: asking themselves – is this the safest way for me to handle my medical care? Is it the best way? Can we leverage more virtual and digital solutions for care?
Indeed, a new report found those health systems that evolve to meet patient needs, amidst the pandemic, are best poised to not only retain their current patient base but also increase it. Healthcare providers could potentially increase their revenues by 5% to 10% of their pre-COVID levels within 12 months. For a $5 billion health system, this equals between $250 million and $500 million in additional annual revenues. Think about it – people have put off many non-urgent medical issues that they will eventually need to address. But it doesn’t mean that they will naturally return to their previous healthcare provider.
According to this report, two out of three patients are likely to switch to a new provider if their expectations for how the healthcare provider manages COVID-19 are not met. To avoid losses and position for growth, providers should take the following approach to improve patient experience.
Providers should listen to a patient’s unique concerns to better understand their communities. This allows real-time response to fears and confusion or reinforcement of actionable information. For example, if there is a need for additional counsel—such as symptoms of COVID-19 compared to symptoms of other illnesses—listening will present an opportunity to quickly provide necessary information. Alternatively, if something is not going as planned, community feedback gives healthcare providers an advantage to get ahead of potential problems (and their solutions). Leveraging digital tools to stay connected will not only help healthcare providers during this pandemic crisis, but could be used in a post-COVID world as a way to stay connected.
My name is Heather Wood, and I am a CPXP (certified patient experience professional) and vice president of clinical innovation at eVideon. Over the last three plus decades I have worked in a variety of spaces within healthcare including public and community health where I got my start, as well as corporate wellness, hospital patient education, and healthcare technology. I have specifically worked in healthcare technology and patient experience for more than 20 years which has been a perfect fit blending my range of experience.
Patient engagement and improving the patient experience can mean many different things. What does it mean to you?
To me, because of my focus, it means using smart technology to provide personalized information along with very well-developed education, delivered to patients and their loved ones in order to improve their self-health efficacy, as well as their ability to have more meaningful discussions with their healthcare providers, and ultimately their ability to care for themselves as best as possible.
For the best possible outcomes, technology driven patient education and information should:
Be delivered to the device the patient feels most comfortable using
Share targeted information and education specific to the patient’s current stage of care, the information and education should include the ability to be repeated and shared. The information should be short, specific, digestible, and written at/about a 5th grade reading level and is available in the patients preferred language.
Deliver education and information in real-time to maintain consistency and minimize the nurse’s burden. In doing so, nurses will have more time to provide quality bedside care – which will result in greatly improved patient experiences and when possible, better health outcomes.
Offer easy access to relaxation and entertainment content in order to ease patient stress levels which allows for better rest and sleep, and overall facilitate a more positive experience.
Be interoperable. All shared information must be a consistent and accurate across all technologies and come from the source of truth.
Provide the ability for patients and loved ones to easily connect with technology so they can see and hear each other when they cannot be together. Given the pandemic, patient engagement should also prioritize patient interactions with their support systems. Video visits created just for healthcare are critical to care – especially for end-of-life and isolation.
The ability to use technology to provide real time service recovery and offering service requests that go directly to the service line being requested, without adding to the nurse’s steps.
As you see it, what are the gaps or missed opportunities in patient engagement?
Patient engagement technology has become a “have to have” instead of what used to be a nice to have. The most significant gap is not all healthcare organizations, across the continuum of care, have invested in a technology platform that offers their patients, loved ones and their staff easy access to consistent, efficient and effective education, information, communication and entertainment/relaxation. Starting small is completely okay, having a solid technology platform to build on, with a partner who is willing to create with the healthcare team, is critical to easing clinical burden, improving patient experience, and health outcomes. Using a patient experience platform also improves the confidence patients, and the community have in the healthcare organization by demonstrating that they are using the most innovative ways to care for their patients.