Tag: patient engagement

Addressing Five Healthcare C-Suite Concerns In The New Year

By Sheri Stoltenberg, CEO and founder, Stoltenberg Consulting, Inc.

With the new year, healthcare c-suite members are taking a critical look at upcoming market movement to maintain a holistic view of their organizations’ needs. Discussing industry trends at the recent College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) CIO Forum, Anna Pannier, senior director of Ascension Technologies at Ascension Saint Thomas, noted the significant change taking place in the value-based care and wellness marketplace as a top concern for healthcare organizations.

As healthcare leaders, like Pannier, look to stabilize their IT strategies and drive meaningful patient outcomes and operational efficiency, they should assess these five c-suite hot-button topics in the next year.

The shift in data analytics

As a more mainstream solution in the healthcare industry, data analytics is not considered the big “game changer” any longer, but it is still a significant investment focus for providers over the next year. Many healthcare facilities assume that once an analytics platform is implemented, they are ahead of the game. Unfortunately though, those same organizations fail to customize dashboards, continuously assess data, or really break down data insights for meaningful change and care decisions. Driving quality outcomes through data analytics to prepare for the future of population health risk management will be a large focus in proactive facilities.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare has now surpassed data analytics on the new investment frontier. The industry has already seen AI application in pathology and radiology in the past year. Eighty percent of healthcare professionals believe that AI is helping to reduce physician burnout, according to a MIT Technology Review survey. Respondent hospitals said AI has increased patient consult time, improved team collaboration and boosted productivity through workflow enhancements.

Similar to data analytics, the CIO will need to work with leadership groups in both the clinical and business sides to determine AI use cases across their evolving organizations. Thought typically applied to clinical care, applying automation and AI on the operations side will drive workload transformation across key business functions.

Greater emphasis on patient engagement

With most organizations having a fully implemented EHR, healthcare organizations are looking to make the most of their long-term investment. Added pressure from value-based care documentation and reimbursement initiatives, as well as increased consumer expectations, drive emphasis on patient engagement. Yet, meaningfully connecting and interacting with healthcare consumers in their patient care plans still lacks.

In fact, pointing to limited or complicated instructions for the everyday patient, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that hospitals are not properly preparing patients to take advantage of patient portals. More healthcare organizations are now seeking around-the-clock direct patient portal support, as an extension of their IT service desk’s capabilities. This coupled with remote virtual monitoring will drive improved patient outcomes in the next year.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

Why Our Patients Are Leaving Us

By Erin Jospe, MD, chief medical officer and SVP of  account management, Kyruus.

As clinicians, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide care that meets the clinical needs of our patients and to call upon our colleagues when their skills are needed. We advocate for our patients in word and deed, and we are committed to our common mission of caring for our fellow human beings with warmth, sympathy, and understanding as much as with scalpels and drugs. We took the Hippocratic Oath, and we execute upon it in a deeply personal way.

However, for something that is inherently so personal for many of us, it is shocking to learn that so many of our patients—60%, in fact—are prepared to switch to another provider. It feels like a betrayal, and we can’t help but feel hurt just a little if we continue to cling to the idea that healthcare should be more than merely transactional.

Healthcare consumer research shows that patients do continue to value the quality of their interactions and experiences with us, with 84% saying that our communication skills and approach are extremely or very important to them. Likewise, 88% of respondents hold our clinical expertise in the same regard. So why are so many looking for new providers?

The answer is access. Access in the form of a sooner appointment. Access in the form of online scheduling. Access in the form of a more convenient location, accurate insurance information, and insightful feedback from other patients like them. Access is what matters when it comes to where and with whom consumers choose to receive their care.

Being seen quickly is consistently one of the top priorities consumers cite when selecting a provider. Nearly 60% have searched for a provider who could see them sooner and 39% have actually switched to see a different clinician as a result. We can conclude from this that having alternative sites of care and delivery mechanisms that can accommodate this need for timeliness can, at a minimum, keep patients within our networks.

Because convenience is such a prominent driver in patient behavior, we need to embrace it by either creating space within our schedules – which is often nearly impossible – or integrating with other care modalities, such as through virtual visits and urgent care or retail clinics, when appropriate, to ensure our patients’ needs are met.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

Healthcare’s New Challenge: Mastering The Trifecta of Comfort, Cost and Care

By Ryan VanDePutte, associate director, Bits In Glass.

Ryan VanDePutte

Each day in the U.S., about 10,000 seniors turn 65. By 2050, there will be 83.7 million seniors in the country, representing about one-fifth of its population. Even with the growing awareness of health and fitness, it’s a hard reality that about three-quarters of these older Americans live with multiple chronic health conditions, ranging from diabetes to dementia, meaning that ongoing care and monitoring is simply a fact of life.

The way we deliver senior care has been evolving, and more patients are seeking to “age in place,” which means that they opt to remain in their own homes for as long as possible while receiving any necessary medical care.

This desire to remain at home is driven by many factors including a desire for comfort, access to friends and family, familiarity and privacy. Not to mention the economic benefits – with the cost of nursing homes easily topping $70,000 a year.

Because of this, home healthcare services have been growing in popularity, despite the fact that patients who receive care at home are more likely to experience a higher 30-day readmission rate after leaving the hospital, compared to those in nursing homes. Still, the lower costs and comfort make home care an attractive option.

Your Doctor is Only as Good as the Information They Have

One challenge that home healthcare providers face is consistency in tracking and communicating information to the patient’s primary doctor. Not only information from care at home, but also information from clinics or hospital visits. This lack of insight into patient data can significantly increase the cost of care for patients because without access to the full history of the patient, unnecessary tests may be run, wasting both money and the doctor’s time. It is reported that a whopping $210 billion is spent annually on unnecessary medical care each year in America. Put in perspective, this is almost twice the U.S. 2019 federal education budget.

Further, there can be even more serious consequences to this lack of information and tracking. Without access to accurate patient records, medical errors are more likely because, for example, the patient may have an allergy unknown by the care provider. Medical errors are in fact the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 250,000 patients in the U.S. die due to such errors.

To prevent these tragedies, an up-to-date, accurate patient file that is updated at each point of care is crucial. This can be most efficiently accomplished via electronic records that are patient-centric and follow a patient wherever they go to receive care, keeping specialists informed throughout an individual patient’s journey. This bridges the gap when a patient switches providers or sees a new physician because each professional has a patient’s detailed medical history, already available to them.

The HITECH Act and Where Electronic Health Records (EHR) Can Go Wrong

Despite the obvious benefits to the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) – it alone is not the answer. The HITECH Act – or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in February of 2009. A key aspect of the Act was to promote and expand the adoption of health information technology, specifically, the use of EHRs by healthcare providers. Prior to this, only 10% of hospitals had adopted EHRs.

Unfortunately, after more than $36 billion was spent on the project, and most doctors have indeed moved to electronic health records – the solutions were implemented in such a way that they are not interoperable with one another. So while one hospital may have impeccable electronic patient records – there was no way to efficiently transfer that information to another care provider, blocking the effectiveness of the initiative.

Further, some of the independent EHR systems were difficult for doctors to use and could cause dangerous mistakes, such as recording a child’s weight by default in kilograms rather than pounds, leading to the prescription of incorrect doses of medication.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

5 EHR Trends To Watch In 2020

By Kayla Matthews, freelance journalist, Productivity Bytes.

Kayla Matthews

Although electronic health records (EHR) are firmly established in the medical landscape, ongoing progress necessitates that providers keep up with emerging trends. Here are five of them.

1. Combining Artificial Intelligence and Voice Recognition with EHR

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already shown promise for assisting doctors with making diagnoses or recognizing historical trends about a patient’s condition. However, several companies are investigating bringing AI to EHR via voice recognition capabilities.

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, providers can query the tools by posing questions in natural language. For example, a physician could ask a voice-enabled EHR system for details about a patient’s last recorded iron levels from blood tests. The system would inform the doctor of those levels, plus tell them whether they’re in a healthy range.

Allscripts and Northwell Health also recently struck a deal for a platform that blends AI with EHR and collects data from clinicians. Using voice commands within patient care could be especially useful for providers who have their hands full.

2. An Increased Emphasis on Mitigating EHR Errors

When the ECRI Institute released its 2020 report containing the top 10 health technology errors to be aware of in the coming year, EHR issues were mentioned multiple times. The first instance related to providers potentially being overwhelmed with notifications from EHR platforms, ignoring some of them and perhaps overlooking a genuine issue with a patient as a result.

The report also brought up the risk of medical data not including information about implants in patients that are sent for medical imaging. The study recommended providing a single place to enter or check for the presence of implant data in an EHR. Finally, the ECRI Institute cautioned that EHR mistakes could happen when a medication administration order sent by an EHR platform does not match the dosage time the provider intended.

This coverage of such mistakes will likely cause health care facilities to assess their systems and see if the issues exist there. If so, they’ll look for ways to reduce those problems.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

Survey: Patients Search and Evaluate Providers, and Share Their Healthcare Experiences Online

Binary Fountain released the findings of its 2019 “Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement” survey. With the goal of getting an updated view into how patients search, evaluate and share their experiences with their providers, the survey, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Binary Fountain, shows patients’ continued dependence on online ratings and review sites and increased trust in social media to make informed healthcare decisions.

Patients Depend on Online Reputation More Than Ever When Choosing a Physician

The survey shows that consumers rely heavily on online ratings and reviews when choosing a provider. According to this year’s survey results:

Of the respondents that have utilized ratings and review sites when searching for a provider, 53% selected Google as a primary source, followed by a hospital and/or facility’s website (48%), Facebook (45%), Healthgrades (42%) and Instagram (28%).

More Consumers Are Using Social Media for Provider Searches

This year’s survey results also found that consumers are increasingly utilizing social media channels to find providers. For instance, 51% of consumers use social media platforms to search for a provider, a 621% increase from Binary Fountain’s 2017 survey results.

More Patients Are Sharing Their Healthcare Experiences through Social Media

When asked “what online platform(s) have you ever used to share your provider/hospital experiences,” respondents selected Facebook (57%) as the leading platform, followed by Google (49%) and a tie between hospital and/or facility website and Healthgrades at 40%. The 2019 survey results also revealed:

Furthermore, only 5% of respondents mentioned they “don’t share feedback on online platforms” in 2019, a stark contrast to the 69% of respondents that selected that answer in 2017.

Healthcare Consumers Seek Digital Scheduling

The survey shows that consumers are increasingly looking to digital devices to schedule appointments. The survey results revealed:

Based on the above findings, it is critical for healthcare providers to verify and ensure their contact information is accurate and up-to-date across all online listings and third-party websites.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

The “What If”: The Downside of Not Using A Communication Platform for Patient Engagement

By Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi.

Lee Horner

Clinician-to-patient communications are typically anchored by in-person, at-home visits. Home health agencies may struggle with understanding the benefits of technology adoption and how it will “work with” traditional check-ins. The downside of not implementing a communication platform unfortunately weakens an agency’s positioning and performance amongst patients, family caregivers, and referral sources. Without being able to safely communicate with patients via HIPAA-compliant messaging, home health agencies may negatively impact their ability to:

Introducing technology into the communications between home health agency staff and patients may be seen as a potential interference to building and sustaining meaningful clinician-patient relationships. However, the use of technology – specifically a communications platform – allows nurses to more effectively perform their clinical responsibilities and more efficiently keep patients engaged in their own care.  The benefits of using technology to strengthen communications are many.

  1. Engaged patients are more invested in their outcomes:  Patients who are engaged in their care are more aware of their day-to-day changes in their condition and more likely to ask their clinician questions if there are emerging concerns and issues. Using a communication platform to reach out to a home health clinician can mitigate trips to the ER and keep a patient on track with the appropriate steps in their care.

A communication platform can help optimize the experience for the patient and the home health agency as all stakeholders can stay in better and more frequent communication during the episode of care. Administrators can schedule and send out timely messages suited to the patient’s condition and care. Ongoing communications include appointment reminders, adherence triggers, and diet/exercise recommendations.

Patients can also safely use the platform’s HIPAA-compliant email, text, SMS, and secure message to reach their home health clinicians regarding questions or issues. The essence of the in-person clinician-patient relationship remains intact during the video-based virtual check-ins. The patient’s family members can also be included in the virtual visits to drive better understanding of the patient’s progress and next steps.  

Data is key to allowing administrator the ability to assess each patient’s level of interaction with each communication and the cadence of touchpoints. As needed, the administrator has the flexibility to adjust the compliance messaging to better engage (or re-engage) the patient. If there are concerns about non-compliance, the home health agency can decide if a more immediate intervention (e.g., call, in-home visit, or transfer to the ED is necessary.

Using a combination of messaging and video touchpoints, a communication platform can help a home health agency increase satisfaction and outcomes for the patient while actively reducing the number, length, and related costs/penalties of hospital stays. The coordinated plan to engage patients throughout the episode of care helps agencies minimize any “what if” scenario for the future of their agency, their reputation, their staff and most importantly, the agency’s impact in their region and community.  

Jobs in healthcare

Creating a Digital Framework for 21st Century Patient Engagement and Care Coordination

By George Mathew, MD, chief medical officer, North America, DXC Technology.

George Matthew

Patients, like all consumers, are more digitally aware and connected than ever before, as they continue to embrace the latest mobile devices and wearables. These devices, as well as the increasing availability of information on health management, have made patients more engaged participants in managing their own health and wellness.

As a result, they demand timely access to their own health information and expect care services that are personalized and convenient. They also want to use consumer-friendly digital tools to engage with their clinical records, lab results, medications and treatment plans.

However, many health organizations are still evolving their approach to meet this challenge. Existing systems of record in healthcare are often siloed, making it difficult to share actionable patient information across the continuum to accelerate service delivery and improve outcomes. The solution lies in implementing next-generation digital health platforms to integrate sources of historical clinical and wellness data to derive insights that drive more engaging patient experiences, better outcomes and lower costs.

Bridging the Information Gap

Integrating data sources across healthcare segments and aggregating them into a single digital-patient record, empowers patients and providers to make better healthcare choices and improve quality of care.

Rather than searching and clicking across multiple systems, an integrated digital patient-care platform creates a “single source of truth” to give patients and their providers quick and easy access to real-time, context-specific information for timely decisions. Benefits include the following:

Patient engagement can also be improved through secure patient messaging capability, the ability for providers to receive patient experience feedback, and deployment of intelligent virtual assistants across a range of mobile devices to create a connected healthcare experience.

Additionally, when healthcare staff have access to the most up-to-date data, they can ensure the right materials are in the right place, reducing material waste and minimizing patient wait times. Furthermore, integrating clinical and wellness systems can help providers efficiently collect population health data to maximize health outcomes through early interventions.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

Activating Patients: The Keystone to Healthcare’s Transition of Value

By Abhinav Shashank, CEO, Innovaccer.

Abhinav Shashank

What do the best care teams in healthcare have in common? They don’t just take care of the sick — they help them get better. They engage and empower their patients to play a central role in their care and become healthy. The RWJ Foundation suggests that compared to highly engaged patients, patients without the skills and confidence to manage their own health end up incurring up to a 21 percent higher cost of care. It’s time we brought patients on to the center stage for the healthcare transformation.

While consumer engagement always plays an important role when delivering any kind of service, patient engagement is an important cog in the wheel of value-based healthcare; this much has always been clear. Whether or not we are capable of meeting these needs — or if meeting them is easy — is up for debate.

Patient engagement: The ‘quarterback’ of healthcare’s transition to value

As Dr. Geeta Nayyar, chief healthcare and innovation officer at Femwell Group, expressed in an interview this HIMSS19, “Patient engagement is the quarterback to get us from fee-for-service to fee-for-value,” and one cannot agree more.

Leading health systems recognize that patient engagement is a high priority. At face value, the term may seem pretty straightforward, but there is a lot more nuance to defining a truly engaged patient. It may start with giving them the tools they need to understand what makes them sick, enabling access to a portal where they can look at their information, and motivating them to take care of themselves with help from friends and family.

The well-being of a patient — broadly, the entire population — is an important measure of the quality of care and its effectiveness in a particular network. And that’s what providers need to realize. The healthier and happier their patients are, the better their network would be.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

What Is “Patient Engagement” and Its Catalyst In the Current Age of Health IT?

Phone, Technology, Pin, Mobile, InternetWhat does “patient engagement” mean in the current age of health IT? Given the recent proposed rules by CMS that tell the sector that all data generated by a patient in the care spectrum is their information, has much changed since the term took roost in healthcare several years ago? What is its catalyst in the current healthcare economy?

The patient engagement concept seems pretty easy to grasp: Getting a patient to pay close attention to their personal health and to stay active in the maintenance of it. Patients who are more involved in their personal care are healthier overall compared to patients who are not. While easy to define, patient engagement in dictionary terms, in real-world practicality, appears to be another thing altogether.

When thinking about patient engagement, many conjure up ideas of technology that interfaces with a patient who then uses said technology to accomplish some lofty goal set forth by the provider, the technology maker and even regulators. The technology might be some form of telehealth, for example. The technology might be vitals analytics or even smart devices, like watches and other wearables that track a patient’s movements and progress toward some pre-determined goal.

When the patient engagement movement caught fire, patient portals were the vehicles that were supposed to capture our (read: patients, consumers) attention. While the capabilities of such sites are vastly more developed than they were in their infancy at the start of the current decade, patients didn’t find much joy in using the portals for bill pay and scheduling. Also, there was no advocacy like the current CMS patient information ruling that allowed patients to easily take ownership of their health data through them.

CMS, lest we forget, once mandated patient engagement through the beleaguered and sometimes-hated meaningful use program (stage II, specifically). “To meet Stage II, providers must give patients clinical summaries after each visit. They must use electronic secure messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information with a minimum of 5 percent of their patients during the review period. They must also provide patients with the ability to view online, download and transmit information about a hospital admission and give them access to any health information about that patient the providers receives, within four days of receiving it.”

Patient engagement today is not much different than what it has always been, it seems. Per HIMSS (in or about 2017) patient engagement is: “Providers and patients working together to improve health. A patient’s greater engagement in healthcare contributes to improved health outcomes, and information technologies can support engagement. Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.” Or, pretty much the same definition as listed at the start of this piece.

Taxpayers and health systems have spent billions of dollars digitizing data, and clinicians have spent millions of labor hours entering it over the past decade. There’s too big of an opportunity to let that go to waste, said Mudit Garg, founder and CEO, Qventus. “More free-flowing data that creates greater interoperability between health IT systems has the promise to cut significant inefficiencies that benefit providers, payers, and, ultimately, patients,” Garg said. “Now, modern technologies, such as AI/ML and telemedicine, that harness the collective power of disparate data sources can surface new insights and solve highly complex problems.”

Sure, data is one of the key components of patient engagement, but the patient is the heart of the matter. The data they generate, and own, comes about through their own personal experience in and outside the point of care. “When that translates to a more delightful user experience, or a more efficient hospital visit, patients are more likely to engage in their care, which benefits all,” Garg said.

While healthcare leaders attempt to define the terms and how to best lasso or corral it in tangible terms (so as to produce desired outcomes) healthcare’s struggle of understanding the current definition of the term might be missing a broader point. Patient engagement conversations usually degenerate into technology and system applications and how these can be placed into patient/consumer hands. Alternatively, consumers tend to seek, discover and use technology that they feel betters, enhances or improves their lives.

Non-healthcare technologies developed for consumers seem to take a consumer-based approach driven by what might best attract a consumer’s attentions rather than the approach of pushing some piece of technology to consumers that might get used if pushed hard enough.

Patient engagement needs to find its Waze

A technology engagement story:

In 2006, FreeMap Israel was founded and developed with the crowd sourcing assistance of community users, a free digital database of the map of Israel in Hebrew, and to ensure its free content, update and distribution. In 2008, Waze was launched commercially. In December 2011, Waze employed 80 people, composed of 70 at Ra’anana, Israel, and 10 in Palo Alto, California.

In 2011, the app was updated to display real-time, community-curated points of interest, including local events, such as street fairs and protests. As of January 2012, the app had been downloaded 12 million times worldwide. In July 2012, Waze announced that it had reached 20 million users, half of them recruited in the previous six months. There were nearly 50 million Waze users as of June 2013.

In June 2012, Waze launched an update to provide real-time fuel prices. As with all Waze real-time updates, prices are submitted by users. In June 2013, Waze introduced a global localization project that enables future road closures and real-time traffic updates during major events in a given country, for example Tour de France.

Waze collects map data, travel times and traffic information from users and transmits it to the Waze server, at no cost to Waze. Waze users (“Wazers”) can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, and, from the online map editor, can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. Based on the information collected, Waze is then in a position to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. Waze can also identify the cheapest fuel station near a user or along their route, provided Waze has enabled fuel prices for that country.

Waze offers turn-by-turn voice navigation, real-time traffic and other location-specific alerts. Waze encourages users to report traffic or road hazards by offering points. Add-ons expand the functions and personalize this interaction with the app. Add-ons can integrate Foursquare and Facebook friends to Waze or notify the user when driving through a high-crime area. In 2017, an option was added for motorcycle users, as well as specialized routes for people eligible to drive in carpool lanes.

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare

My HIMSS19 Takeaway: Mind the Gap

The megalithic healthcare conference, HIMSS19, has come and has gone from the vast former swampland of central Florida. While I’m a relative newcomer to the show’s trajectory – I’ve been to four of the annual tradeshows since 2011 – this year’s version was, for me, the most rewarding and complete of them all. This could be for one of several reasons. Perhaps because I no longer represent a vendor so sitting in the exhibit hall in a 30×30 booth with a fake smile wondering when the day’s tedium would end and the night’s socials would begin may impact my rosy outlook.

Or, maybe I was simply content to engage in the totality of the experience, attend some quality sessions, meet with many high-class people and discuss so-called news of the day/week/year. Doing so felt, well, almost like coming home. Or, perhaps my experience at the conference this year was so good because of running into former colleagues and acquaintances that drove me to such a place of contentment while there. No matter the reason, I enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.

Something else felt right. An energy – a vibe – something good, even great, seems/ed about to happen. Something important taking place in Orlando, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Kicking off the week, CMS created news – like it does every year at about this time – with its announcement that it will no longer allow health systems and providers to block patients from their data. This was a shot across the bow of interoperability and the industry’s lack of effort despite its constant gibberish and lip service to the topic.

Another fascinating thing that finally occurred to me: no matter the current buzzword, every vendor has a solution that’s perfect for said buzzword. Be it “patient engagement,” “interoperability,” “artificial intelligence,” “blockchain”; whatever the main talking point, every organization on the exhibit floor has an answer.

But, no one seems to have any real answers.

For example, after nearly a decade, we still don’t have an industry standard for interoperability. Patient engagement was once about getting people to use patient portals for, well, whatever. Then it was apps and device-driven technologies. We’re now somewhere in between all of these things.

AI? Well, hell. It’s either about mankind engineering the damnedest algorithms to automate the hell out of everything in the care setting (an over exaggeration) or that AI/machine learning will lead to the rise of machines, which will help care for and cure people – before ultimately turning on us and killing or enslaving us all (again, I’m overly exaggerating).

Continue Reading

Jobs in healthcare