Investing

Patient Engagement: High Focus for Healthcare Investors

Recently KLAS convened our annual Digital Health Investment Symposium (DHIS). This event brought together providers, investors and vendors from across healthcare markets to discuss future trends. Our hope was to help investment and provider communities illuminate their path forward.

These conferences always help me see what really matters to the provider community, pulling away from the media and vendor hype, I took the opportunity to sit down and discuss with several attendees what their focus was going forward.

While I heard talk about interoperability (and the high hopes for CommonWell/CareQuality), cybersecurity and even AI – it seemed that everyone agreed on one thing as part of their focus: Patient Engagement.

It makes sense that patient engagement would be on the forefront of providers minds. Rising costs and the prevalence of high-deductible health plans mean that patients are increasingly adopting consumer-like behavior and expectations for their healthcare providers. Those forces, when combined with the continued industry shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, put patient engagement in the crosshairs of forward-thinking healthcare leaders.

During DHIS, attendees worked to identify obstacles that can frustrate success in deploying a patient engagement strategy. These barriers were broken up into three categories:

  • Challenges to motivating patients

     

    As one executive attendee put it, “people will avoid spending money until they have to. They may not see the value of spending a little now to avoid larger, expensive procedures later.”

    One of the hard realities of patient engagement is that (most) patients don’t want healthcare at the core of their life. They look at healthcare as a distraction from the other pressures and joys they spend their day pursuing.

     

  • Lack of collaboration and trust between patients, providers and payers

     

    The misalignment between these three key groups mean that often poor healthcare decisions are made. Typically, attendees argued, patient wellness and the engagement necessary for wellness are some of the first victims of these misaligned incentives.

     

  • Difficulties navigating patient engagement tools
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    One VP in attendance at DHIS explained, “The adoption rates for patient portals are so poor. Every EMR company says that they do patient engagement and population health through their portals. But when we look at the adoption rates, no one is using the portals. Vendors may have the best portal in the world, but that doesn’t matter if no one is using it. Obviously, vendors are doing something wrong from an engagement standpoint if no one is actually bothering to check the portal.”

 

Symposium attendees also focused on identifying solutions to these problems moving forward. By having investors, vendors, providers and payers all in the same room for these discussions we were able to look at these problems from all relevant angles.

To read their proposed solutions, access the DHIS18 white paper.

Finally, attendees hit on the fact that, when it comes to patient engagement, it make take consumer-experts to solve the problem. With consumer-oriented giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple all making in-roads into healthcare, many look forward with hope to these consumer-experts. While many maintain a healthy dose of skepticism – after all, we’ve seen this from consumer giants before – I find the old saying, “strike while the iron is hot” comes to mind.

The confluence of stakeholder attention on patient engagement mixed with the ubiquity of tech in patients’ hands means that this may be the perfect time to see cross-industry players descend upon healthcare and shake things up a bit.