In the initial years of my career, I trained as a general internist. Since then; I have been in healthcare IT for 26 years now. I have been directly involved with EHR for the past 13 years and been the CMIO at Ochsner for the past three years.
I would like to focus on three ways tech can improve patient engagement—consumerism as a strategy, digital engagement and precision medicine.
Major Trends Set to Shape Patient Engagement
As we move away from a fee-for-service toward a value-based healthcare, we focus more on outcomes and one of the most important factors in these outcomes is patient engagement. In the traditional model, the health system is a resource which the patient would come to for their healthcare needs. Now it’s much more about having healthcare organizations come to the patient and engaging with them not just when you need us as a resource. It is shifting from “a healthcare system to a system that provides health.” To be effective in, we need to remove the friction points for patients and prospectively reach out to patients to get them engaged earlier.
From the technology point of view, this is about ensuring that all portals of entry and all points of communication are occurring using the digital tools that today’s consumers are using to provide a seamless experience. For instance, in the traditional retail process, when you need something, you go to the store and buy it. Today, it’s about the online experience; we can offer customers things that they might be interested in through data and predictive analytics. The same can be done in healthcare. We are creating a proactive and predictive approach so that we can reach out to you in a prospective way. This process should be seamless; everything should be able to take place in one click, such as getting your appointment done, seeing lab results and talking to the doctor to convey a message. The consumer experience then becomes the center of the engagement strategy; it started with optimizing the patient portal, but now has expanded beyond that to population health and interactive education. Viewing our patients as consumers drives the system to remove friction and create a flawless experience.
Key Elements of Digital Patient Engagement
We can provide improved outcomes and more cost-efficient care if we can understand all the ways patients engage with healthcare services. Unifying care then becomes very important, not just for us, but also for the patients well-being. Prior to consumerism, typically doctor-patient engagement occurred sometimes via phone or with physical contact during a clinic visit. Now, we now offer innovative technology and solutions to interact with patient when and where they want it with even better outcomes. Digital and virtual care are now mainstay methods of providing care.
What digital medicine allows us to do is to re-engage patients in a digital platform in a way that’s above and beyond what their experiences were from traditional encounters.