Healthcare agencies dealing with its delivery are seeking innovative techniques.   Mobile health technologies and digital communications are being implemented to drive improvements in patient engagement and outcomes.

Digital technologies are currently being used for:

  • Scheduling office appointments
  • Getting test results
  • Communication between patients, doctors and nurses
  • Decreasing healthcare costs
  • Improving quality
  • Decreasing emergency room visits
  • Patient satisfaction

They meet the trifecta of Berwick’s original description of healthcare “Triple-Aim” goals:

  1. Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction)
  2. Improving the health of populations
  3. Reducing the per capita cost of health care

A  recently published HFMA article reports– “The success of Accountable Care Organizations ultimately depends on the extent to which it intelligently deploys technology solutions for data analytics, care team workflows and patient engagement – to improve population health while reducing costs.” The mounting body of evidence points to a few unmistakable truths:

  • Enhancements in patient engagement lead to better outcomes
  • Patient experience and patient satisfaction are more intertwined than ever
  • Increased patient satisfaction improves the bottom line

Patient Preferences for “Engagement”

Studies show people want to engage where and when it is most convenient – and healthcare providers need to embrace that reality if they want to improve engagement and satisfaction.  Deloitte’s 2015 Survey of U.S. Healthcare Consumers provides important insights on what patients are looking for:

  • Nearly 40% of consumers look for healthcare information online
  • 28% use technology to monitor & manage their health & fitness
  • 28% say they would like to do so in the future
  • 23% use social media for health-related purposes
  • 18% have communicated with their providers via secure email, text, or chat channels

Where to Start

There are multiple ways to implement these new technologies including  direct patient engagement and self-monitoring capabilities, access to information and communication between patients and their providers or payers.

Steps for Adoption

  • Identify patient groups where well-developed patient engagement or self-management programs are already in existence. Most healthcare organizations have Tele-Health or other programs providing extended services to key chronic disease groups, such as chronic heart or lung patients, or diabetics, for example. When choosing your first pilot groups for implementation, err toward groups or programs where any potential adverse consequences would have the least impact. (This was why KP OnCall chose to start with a chronic urinary tract infection group vs. chronic heart failure patients.)
  • Choose robust and flexible cloud-based platforms to deploy these new technologies – they greatly reduce start-up time and costs.  They should have strong, rules-based process automation capabilities, and robust embedded analytics to help drive continuous improvement. Application providers and consultants with direct healthcare implementation experience will greatly reduce initial deployment time as well as risk of failure or cost overruns.

Start slow and dip your toes in the water, but get started or you will fall behind your colleagues and the medical community at large.

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