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Guide to Digital Healthcare

Getting patients to assume responsibility for their own care has always presented a challenge. Thankfully, emerging technologies encourage patient engagement to improve compliance, and simplify tasks to improve appointment-keeping and booking follow-up visits. These new technologies also help patients implement measures to improve their health through diet, exercise and blood-sugar monitoring.

Using this Guide

Keep reading for information on how you can improve patient engagement, and the overall healthcare experience, through patient-centric access to information, customer journey mapping, gamification, price transparency, and more.

Specifically, in this guide you’ll learn about:

This guide also features videos that describe best practices for encouraging patients to assume responsibility for their care.

Getting patients to assume responsibility for their self-care can be a challenge.

Online tools and connected medical devices bridge the gap between clinical recommendations and patient behaviors, while also providing solutions for critical healthcare-provider pain points.

Watch our Digital Healthcare Kickstart video to learn the steps to providing patients a secure, modern digital experience that deepens engagement and offers a better quality of care.

Care Provider Pain Points

The digital disruption of healthcare speaks directly to the biggest industry challenges, such as building trust, less-than-ideal ROI, and the necessity of adequate security. Dive in to learn more:

Trust-Building Difficulties

To perform effectively, healthcare providers need to gather real-time patient information from multiple sources, which is difficult to find, access and collate without technology. And without this information, a provider's likelihood of building trust and improving a patient's involvement in monitoring their symptoms goes out the window.

Low ROI Outcomes

According to the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, non-optimized medication therapy in the U.S.—including the cost of readmissions, suboptimal treatment use, and patient non-compliance—is estimated to be responsible for over $520 billion in annual (avoidable) costs, and over 275,000 deaths per year.

Poor IT Performance

Many healthcare organizations are locked into legacy technology, hampering IT performance and impacting the overall user experience. Traditional systems can't always distinguish between personal healthcare files and non-sensitive data. And in-house IT teams may not have the experience required to build and implement a tiered information-management system.

Security Concerns

In addition to the aforementioned legacy concerns, older systems can’t handle most modern security requirements, a problem compounded by the fact that attackers target healthcare systems more than ever. Phishing is high on the list of healthcare security issues, followed closely by compromised emails and ransomware attacks.

Patient-Centric Experiences

Healthcare organizations are under intense pressure to differentiate themselves and provide a valuable, patient-centric user experience. This is a specialized area for any IT team, and institutions lacking specific expertise will likely struggle to achieve it.

Emerging technology can’t just focus on improving patient engagement. It needs to do so securely and cost-effectively, or the process is dead in the water. This makes it vitally important for the healthcare industry to continue to modernize by moving as quickly as possible to digital solutions in favor of the antiquated processes so many practices and institutions still use.

Key Healthcare Tech Benefits

Technology has already brought significant benefits to healthcare—most notably, Electronic Health Records (EHRs, which enable the following:

  • Improved patient care, thanks to their ability to automatically alert physicians to issues, such as medication allergies or intolerances, and the option to access Electronic Health Records from almost any medical facility. This is essential for doctors assessing non-local or emergency patients, especially when a patient is unresponsive.
  • Better public health, through the availability of data for clinical research. This improves our understanding and accelerates treatment development for problems affecting large populations (e.g. viral outbreaks). A widely available system provides information on the extent of an outbreak, enabling preventive measures (e.g. increased vaccine production) to be implemented more quickly.

EHRs also deliver simpler workflows, reduced administrative costs, safer data-storage facilities, and better access to patient data from a centralized data point. These all help speed up responses from medical professionals, while providing more accurate and up-to-date information about the patient’s care, all of which enable providers to make the best possible decisions, particularly in a crisis.

The advantages of emerging technologies aren’t limited to EHRs, however. Additional benefits include:

Patient-Centric Access to Information

Today's technology enables patient-centric experiences by providing a single point of (readily available) access for managing one's own healthcare records. This promotes patient engagement, and is in keeping with the trend towards healthcare consumerism.

Better Experiences via Customer Journey Mapping

Customers journey mapping enables organizations to simplify and streamline the user experience by identifying those components that cause friction. This gives providers a deeper understanding of the patient experience. They can then “humanize” specific elements of the experience via physical and digital means to ensure they account for the patient’s emotional state at every stage.

For example, if patients are frustrated by the time and effort it takes to find parking at your healthcare facility, it can affect their emotions and, by extension, their attitude toward treatment. This indirectly impacts your patient success-count and your profitability.

By addressing the challenges that occur at each stage, healthcare providers can build meaningful solutions into the experience.

Watch our video to learn how AI and chatbots help you deliver great, 'humanized' patient experiences, and the key steps to ensure success with these emerging technologies.

Interactive Telemedicine / Telehealth

Telemedicine significantly improves the reach and availability of healthcare. In rural areas where services are far apart, or in areas where access is difficult, patients may consult providers via computer or mobile device. Physicians have grown comfortable making provisional diagnoses via video—everything from taking a medical history to confirming visible symptoms of illness.

Heart monitoring equipment and glucometers improve the outcome of virtual visits by (at least) identifying whether physical medical attention is needed. In addition to the obvious advantage of treating more people more conveniently, the cost benefits are significant. According to an Alliance for Connected Care study, Telehealth services can save up to $100 per doctor visit.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient-monitoring allows physicians to oversee the progress of patients with chronic conditions, without the inconvenience (and cost) of regular visits. Mobile devices that collect blood-sugar data, apps that track sleep patterns and CPAP usage, and wearable EKGs that automatically send data to healthcare providers help doctors provide a quality, seamless patient experience more easily.

Wearable Technology

According to a 2018 Pricewaterhouse Coopers analysis, the number of wearable medical devices available is rapidly increasing, with 49% of US residents owning one device. These usually take the form of wrist bands or watches, which may be synchronized with proprietary online applications that record and report exercise levels, heart rate, water intake, and diet, helping doctors monitor and assess the wearer's health. Further, patients can set their own goals, track their progress, connect with other users, and stay engaged in their own care.

Gamification

Humans love a challenge, and one way to use emerging technology to improve patient engagement is by adding a gamification component to their care. Apple's Activity app provides competitions and awards, while a similar app for CPAP users provides a score for each night's sleep. These technologies give patients new ways to set goals, track their progress, and feel good about their compliance, etc. by winning a virtual award each time they reach a treatment milestone.

Reduced Paperwork

Healthcare providers can’t afford to take shortcuts when it comes to avoiding litigation. Every consult requires the completion of forms and questionnaires, followed by the lengthy process of capturing and recording the data. New technologies reduce the time and cost of this process, while increasing the convenience of transmitting EHRs between providers.

Eliminates Unnecessary Tests and Procedures

Most patients have had the experience of undergoing repeat medical tests because the results of their first tests were not available to other offices or physicians. This represents an unnecessary cost for both the patient and their insurer. Further, the procedures might be uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even present a risk for the patient. Electronic Health Records (EHR) give providers access to all the data in a patient’s record, reducing the likelihood of repeating a test.

Finding Your Ideal Patient Engagement Strategy

Learn the steps every healthcare organization should take to ensure patient satisfaction.

In the face of regulatory demands, consumer expectations, and evolving technologies, today's Healthcare organizations must overcome enormous challenges to engage patients, remain competitive (or at least, digitally relevant), and retain public trust. Specific challenges include:

  • Legacy technology locked in a closed ecosystem
  • Daunting privacy and security management issues
  • IT teams deficient in core competencies
  • Lack of a prioritized roadmap

Sound familiar? To learn the key strategies every healthcare organization should employ as part of its Patient Engagement Strategy, download our free white paper now

Reduce Costs via Digital Transformation

Financial factors are a primary motivator for consumer engagement across all industries, and healthcare is no exception. People want to be involved in the process of choosing services that impact their wallets, including the price of medical services and the choice of healthcare insurance.

The democratization of healthcare means greater transparency into insurance data, allowing patients to manage their responsibilities and commitments in real time—so long as provider systems have achieved the necessary level of digital maturity.

Insurance Planning and Implications

With the current high cost of healthcare insurance premiums, many patients can no longer afford a “one size fits all” approach, filled with bells and whistles. They want personalized insurance plans tailored to their specific needs, along with control over their costs. A consumer-driven healthcare plan (CDHP) offers both.

The typical CDHP is a high-deductible plan that uses pre-tax dollars and enables patients to choose lower premiums. To use this type of plan effectively, the patient needs to behave like a consumer and take ownership of managing their healthcare expenses.

Some ways new technology facilitates this are:

  • By providing Medicare and Medicaid analysis tools that help patients understand upfront which costs are covered, and which costs they're responsible for.
  • Via interactive tools that ask specific questions about patient needs, and use AI to interpret the complex industry rules to answer them, delivering easily-understandable explanations and recommendations.
  • By linking insurance enrollment with long-term financial planning. This educates and guides the consumer to integrate future healthcare costs with retirement planning.

Research shows a high percentage of patients will make use of online tools, if they are available. This is equally beneficial for providers, as it generates useful data that allows further personalization for engagement.

Watch our video to learn more about the implications new technology has on insurance planning.

Transparency in Pricing

Transparency in pricing is not only required by government mandates, it’s also an essential factor in healthcare consumerism. Rising insurance premiums and high deductibles increase financial responsibilities for patients, causing them to ask more questions and take a more active role in their care.

Emerging technology offers opportunities for healthcare providers to ensure healthcare is “shoppable” by making all relevant data available, including pricing. Combined with online reviews, this allows patients to make informed decisions based on the combination of pricing, quality, and outcome.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning minimize expensive errors, and the identification, analysis, and evaluation of data lets providers deliver personalized, real-time information that builds trust and loyalty. Providers also benefit from higher satisfaction rates, more efficient care, and accurate patient expectations, all of which help to reduce write-offs and boost trust.

Watch our video to learn more about the importance of price-transparency in healthcare.

Accessing Care & Provider Info

Easily accessible information and a readily-available healthcare team are at the heart of patient-centered healthcare. Engaged consumers expect easy access to their care options, and to information about their healthcare providers. Direct access to one's care team means personalized, approachable healthcare.

Patients may book appointments via an app or text message, without having to call and schedule a time with a busy receptionist. Web/mobile patient portals facilitate increased engagement with medical professionals via chat, simplifying appointment scheduling, and even workflow-based diagnoses for non-urgent needs. Immediate needs can be met through Telehealth. This reduces treatment wait times, significantly improving the patient care experience.

In addition, the use of technology tightens the patient’s connection with their health plan and increases their trust in providers. Plus, patients able to take virtual action are more likely to do so earlier—addressing health problems before they become acute, which both reduces the cost of treatment and improves the outcome.

For example, patients may communicate with doctors about pain management, an acute condition, or how to manage the flu. Whatever circumstances the patient is experiencing, they can quickly and easily find the info and help they need from professional healthcare staff. Team members can reach out to consumers with follow-up information. Patients can request an appointment with a healthcare provider—and even complete the required documentation—online.

Watch our video below about access to healthcare and team information.

Artboard

The Role of IoT & Big Data

The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare offers new, unique opportunities to improve patient engagement. IoT centralizes and connects healthcare monitoring and remote treatment via linked networks. Data may be analyzed and gathered in real time and used to support customer-care plans, while keeping patients engaged in the details.

Today's devices let diabetics continuously monitor their blood sugar, without constant finger pricks. Insulin pumps dramatically reduce the number of daily injections required. Users may connect a pump to their mobile device to track their blood sugar level, and make adjustments to keep it stable.

These technologies not only make users’ lives easier and encourage healthcare ownership, they also improve the patient's engagement. This, in turn, increases their understanding of their medical conditions and treatments, enabling them to make better, more-informed decisions that are also more cost-effective. In this way, providers also win by building trust, increasing their patient base, and saving on costs.

Over the long term, technology and data will continue to reduce spending on medical services by substituting lower-cost activities—like remote monitoring and virtual visits—for more expensive, in-person engagements. Transparency tools will encourage more people to look for lower-cost providers, and the use of digital technology will continue to improve patient outcomes while also reducing the rate of hospital admissions and stays. Consumers will reap the main benefits, but insurers and providers will also enjoy reduced costs and greater efficiencies.

Risks and Rewards

Modernization is not without risks. Attackers continue to target healthcare systems, and the 2018 PWC “Global State of Information Security Survey” revealed the ongoing adoption of EHRs has increased the risks of cybersecurity attacks, along with other new and evolving threats.

In terms of rewards, however, investors have been quick to realize the promise of this market. In the first half of 2019, Rock Health data allocated $4.2 billion in venture capital for 180 digital health start-ups. This puts the market on track to reach $8.4 billion in investments by the end of the year.

Woman Doctor

Final Analysis

To keep up with the ongoing evolution of technology and remain relevant and competitive while earning the market’s trust, healthcare organizations must address the consumer demand for modern user experiences. Patient engagement through digital channels requires stable functionality, intuitive design and modern interaction modalities to ensure a fulfilling user experience.

Such a goal can only be accomplished via a comprehensive roadmap and a solid patient-engagement strategy. Today's patients expect greater access to medical information, and a seamless relationship with their healthcare data, yet very few organizations have in-house IT teams capable of achieving this objective. This effective digital solution is available, however, to help your organization leverage the latest technologies, ensure patient loyalty and satisfaction, and achieve success in the market.

Digital Healthcare Kickstart

What's the best, fastest way to guarantee a great digital journey that ensures HIPAA compliance at every turn? Simple. Kickstart it.

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Address: 4 Sentry Parkway East, Suite 300, Blue Bell PA, 19422
Phone: 610 239 8100

Address: 4 Sentry Parkway East, Suite 300, Blue Bell PA, 19422
Phone: 610 239 8100