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DHIS 2021 White Paper
Using Technology to Resolve Patient Pain Points

author - Justin Long
Justin Long
author - Shawn Howell
Shawn Howell
February 9, 2022 | Read Time: 6  minutes

In September 2021, KLAS hosted its fifth annual Digital Health Investment Symposium (DHIS). In attendance were healthcare thought leaders from private equity and venture-capital firms, digital health companies, and healthcare provider organizations. Small group discussions focused on patient pain points within the care journey, the barriers to solving these pain points, and how technology can be utilized to further activate patients in their own care. The intent of this paper is to share insights from those discussions and to highlight ways stakeholders throughout the industry can support meaningful change to improve the patient experience.

The Pre-Summit Survey

To provide context for the summit’s small group discussions, KLAS asked attendees to complete a pre-summit survey regarding (1) the three most important areas of focus for improving the patient experience, (2) the three most difficult stages in a patient’s healthcare journey, and (3) how responsibility should be allocated between healthcare organizations and patients during each stage.

For questions one and two, attendees could choose from the following stages of a patient’s healthcare journey:

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Choosing a provider and/or healthcare organization
  • Getting to the location of care (if in person)
  • Perceptions of the quality of care received
  • Outcomes of obtaining care
  • Communicating with a provider before and after a visit
  • Refilling and obtaining a prescription
  • Payment of medical bills
  • Finding the next clinician in care journey
  • Recovery
attendee type

Pre-Summit Survey Reveals Patients Struggle with Finding & Communicating with Providers

importance vs difficulty of stages in patient healthcare journey

Respondents shared that finding a healthcare provider and communicating with healthcare providers are the most difficult stages for patients. Communicating with providers—either before or after a visit—is seen as the most important stage in the patient experience and also the most difficult for patients to accomplish. Additionally, choosing a provider/healthcare organization and seeing the next clinician in the care journey are also viewed as important but difficult to achieve.

party that should be responsible for pre and post visit communication

KLAS also found that most respondents feel health systems should bear the main responsibility for addressing patient difficulties around pre- and post-visit communication. Vendor respondents are most likely to report health systems should own most or all of the responsibility, while provider and investor respondents are more likely to feel that patients should own some of the responsibility.

party that should be responsible for pre and post communication by attendee type

Pain Points Identified in Survey Align with Patient Perspective

In 2020, KLAS published a report sharing patient perspectives on patient engagement technology. The features patients desired most—e.g., the ability to arrange care, find a provider, and coordinate with a provider—are still pain points, according to DHIS attendees.

patient provider and vendor alignment

quotation“I would like a chat platform that I can use to communicate with my caregiver directly about questions and issues.”

quotation“There should be tools that allow me to make requests for new medications or refills and change appointments without having to jump through multiple hoops. There is so much excess work in areas where things could be greatly simplified.”

quotation“I would like something that gives me knowledge about a physician before I visit so I can choose the best one. Also, there should be a tool that gives me a way to communicate my symptoms to a provider and request treatments or tests as needed.”

Summit Discussion Insights

The pre-summit survey revealed that choosing a provider, communicating with a provider, and finding the next medical professional in a care journey are the most important yet most difficult stages of a patient’s healthcare journey. During the DHIS 2021 summit, attendees formed small groups to discuss three different questions:

1Why do these aspects of the patient experience continue to be the biggest pain points for patients?

2What specific barriers are preventing the healthcare industry from creating a seamless experience for patients?

3How can technology be used to further engage patients in taking responsibility for the most important yet most difficult stages of their care journey?

The following sections outline discussion insights. Questions 1 and 2 elicited similar responses and are discussed together below.

Questions 1 & 2 Discussion Insights

  • Healthcare organizations are competing with other healthcare organizations, and vendors are competing with other vendors; as a result, both parties are discouraged from cooperating and enabling interoperability. This siloed approach to healthcare (even within healthcare systems) prevents a seamless, straightforward patient experience.
  • Current financial incentives aren’t focused on fixing operational pain points throughout the patient experience, and no party gets paid to own and solve problems.
  • The healthcare industry has invested a lot of time and money in clinical technology, but there is a lack of investment in administration (i.e., effective leadership in change management, incentive alignment, resource allocation focused on patient experience).
  • Patients don’t know what meaningful metrics to consider when picking a provider, and providers are not using meaningful metrics that focus on the patient experience when they are deciding where to refer patients. Patients need an advocate (outside of the acute care setting) to collaborate with for a care road map, guidance, and information navigation.
  • Good companies are discouraged from investing in healthcare IT due to limiting regulations and red tape.
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated staff burnout, and exhausted clinicians should not be expected to take on more responsibility around patient communication and care plans.
  • Good technology doesn’t always have the necessary visibility and momentum to increase adoption.

Question 3 Discussion Insights

  • Patient engagement technology needs to support all types of teams (e.g., teams of clinicians working together, teams of caregivers and family members working together).
  • Patient engagement technology needs to meet patients where they are in empathetic ways when it comes to communication (e.g., text messaging, internet connection), treatment/health system discovery, transitions in care, and proactive guidance regarding next steps.
  • The healthcare industry has built a lot of technology around IT and clinician needs, but if technology were built with patient needs at the forefront, there would be more helpful tools for navigating care, sharing data, and proactively managing health.
  • Portal consolidation would provide patients with a one-stop shop to meet their needs and a single source of truth.
  • Organizations could provide a comprehensive, up-to-date, and modernized provider directory to help patients choose a provider and, therefore, their healthcare experience.
  • Technology should be used to make clinicians more aware of patient needs.
  • If payers had greater access to health app information, they could charge members less, incentivizing patients to own more of the responsibility for their care.
  • Technology can be used to incentivize patients (e.g., financial incentives, contests, giveaways).


Healthcare IT continues to face significant challenges, but the desire for stakeholders to collaboratively rise to the occasion is evident. The recommendations provided by symposium attendees represent opportunities for all parties to take steps in the right direction. KLAS would like to thank the thought leaders who participated in the DHIS event and shared their insights with each other and the rest of the industry.

Summit Attendees

Korn Ferry
LEK Consulting
Marwood Group
McDermott Will & Emery

Assured Healthcare Partners
Bank of America
Brighton Park Capital
BSC Capital Partners
Fitzroy Health
Fulcrum Equity Partners
Hg Capital
Intermountain Ventures
JENGA Capital
New Mountain Capital
Noro-Moseley Partners
Pamlico Capital
SSM Partners
Warburg Pincus

Providers and Payers
Allegheny Health Network
Better Health for Northeast New York
BMC HealthNet Plan
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Caribou Memorial Hospital
Cleveland Clinic
CommonSpirit Health at Home
Dayton Children’s Hospital
Doctors For Visual Freedom
Envision Healthcare
Franciscan Alliance
Intermountain Healthcare
Peachtree Pediatric Urgent Care
Regional Medical Imaging
Steinberg Diagnostic Medical Imaging
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Software Vendors/ Consulting Firms
Algorex Health
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Andor Health
Aunt Bertha
Carrot Health, a Unite Us Company
Change Healthcare
Children’s Health Consortium (a Guidehouse Company)
Clinify Health
Conifer Health Solutions
Ensemble Health Partners
HCL Technologies
Iris Telehealth
Luma Health
Palo Alto Networks
Unite Us
Upfront Healthcare

author - Sarah Hanson
Sarah Hanson
author - Natalie Jamison
Natalie Jamison
author - Andrew Wright
Project Manager
Andrew Wright
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This material is copyrighted. Any organization gaining unauthorized access to this report will be liable to compensate KLAS for the full retail price. Please see the KLAS DATA USE POLICY for information regarding use of this report. © 2024 KLAS Research, LLC. All Rights Reserved. NOTE: Performance scores may change significantly when including newly interviewed provider organizations, especially when added to a smaller sample size like in emerging markets with a small number of live clients. The findings presented are not meant to be conclusive data for an entire client base.