What Does Patient Engagement Look Like in 2018? - Cover

What Does Patient Engagement Look Like in 2018?

As healthcare moves deeper and deeper into value-based care models, providers must get increasingly creative on how they provide care. This leaves vendors, investors and others asking:

Where is provider attention today?

The quick answer is, “on meeting regulatory requirements.” As with many aspects of healthcare, the more proactive (and arguably better) approaches take a backseat to regulation. In fact, in 2015 KLAS found that only 10-15% of providers were pursuing some level of proactive efforts related to population health. The next year, only 23% of organizations identified their population health initiatives as “strategic.” As one Director of Information Systems puts it: “Patient engagement has not been a big topic in our organization. We have mainly been focused on doing what we need to do so we can get the meaningful use dollars”

Where is vendor attention today?

Here again, meaningful use has driven the market. 94% of provider organizations in 2016 deploying patient portals. The desire of providers for these portals to integrate with the EMR has bolstered EMR players in what has traditionally been a market flooded with best-of-breed solutions. Recent KLAS research shows that EMR vendors have begun to gain a foothold in the patient portal market. As they move deeper into this space, I expect we’ll see what has happened in the surgery and ED markets – best-of-breed vendors being bought up, or ultimately squeezed out of the space as healthcare organizations rip and replace in order to bring their network all under the same vendor’s roof. Sometimes, this replacement comes even at the loss of functionality, so great is the pull of creating an enterprise-wide solution.

Where is patient attention today?

As external factors continue to drive up the cost of healthcare, patients are beginning to feel the burn. Consumerism is coming to healthcare. And with consumerism comes a new set of patient expectations and demands of their healthcare providers. Proactive care, convenience, and price transparency have all taken hold in the patient’s mind. KLAS polled providers in 2017 to determine the impact of HIT on the overall patient experience. Respondents mentioned that patient outreach solutions were having the deepest impact with chronic care patients.

A group that has been historically lukewarm about the use/purpose of patient portals, patients seem to respond much more favorably to patient outreach tools that push communication and education directly to their ever-present smartphones. Additionally, many providers have seen great strides in engaging their populations through telemedicine. Take the recent hurricanes in Texas, for example.

Additionally, as clinician end-users become ever more involved with their EMR during care visits, patients will take notice. As one provider who we spoke to during an Arch Collaborative survey mentioned, “I feel like an idiot when I’m working in the EMR, and the patient leans over my shoulder and tells me where to click.” Like it or not, the patient and our core HIT systems will come into increasingly greater contact with each other during care visits.

Mike Davis recently argued that even the EMR itself can be a valuable tool for engaging patients. Considering patients are engaging with the EMR whether we like it or not, I would suggest it’s at least worth considering how we can leverage that tool to provide additional value to the patient’s experience.

Ultimately, the industry shift to value-based care means an industry shift to patient-centered workflows, and in an increasingly competitive environment, the facilities that master patient-centered care first, may have the last laugh.

KLAS will be hosting their annual Digital Health Investment Symposium (DHIS18) later this year to help demystify healthcare IT.