EHRs have revolutionized care delivery, enabling healthcare organizations to document clinical encounters and manage patient records more easily. However, as patients continue to grow more active and involved in their care, EHR vendors are feeling the pressure to evolve their systems to be more consumer-centric.
In a perfect world, patients would be able to easily access the data they need to manage their care directly from their provider’s EHR, and EHR companies would have the capabilities to provide patient engagement solutions that make the exchange of information between patient and provider seamless.
A persistent barrier to the flow of information between providers and patients is that EHRs were not initially developed to support patient engagement as a core function. Nevertheless, EHRs must supply patient engagement tools to their customers so that they can more easily keep pace with evolving patient care expectations.
Patients today expect the necessary tools to directly communicate with his or her provider about all aspects of their care, including scheduling appointments and accessing health records. Healthcare organizations have changed as well. Where they once relied on phone calls and paper records, they now use secure messaging and digital workflows.
Patient engagement tools and functionalities are the missing links between EHRs, providers, and patients. And, patient engagement is constantly evolving, making it a moving target for EHR companies that want to bridge the gap between patients and their health information. EHRs have only two solutions: to develop patient engagement tools in-house or to collaborate with a patient engagement partner.
Building engagement solutions in-house
Building patient engagement solutions in-house can initially seem like an attractive go-to-market strategy for EHR providers. However, many quickly realize it’s an inefficient and costly undertaking.
Constructing even a minimally viable patient engagement offering requires significant development resources and can easily take much longer than anticipated. Additionally, the cost to get these solutions off the ground is exorbitant and often underestimated.
EHR providers must also acknowledge that they are not experts in patient engagement, which can cause unforeseen challenges and inefficiencies when attempting to develop these products in-house.
Patient engagement isn’t a one and done endeavor, either. Patients’ needs and the technology required to support those needs will continue to evolve over time, which will necessitate the need to consistently innovate. EHR companies must be willing to commit future resources towards the products they develop in-house. However, many find this drain on time and finances to be a diversion away from the company’s core product offering.
Partnerships for long-term benefits
Instead of trying to build solutions in-house, collaborating with a patient engagement technology provider is the simplest and most cost-effective way to deliver the communication link demanded by today’s healthcare consumer.
EHR companies that work with a patient engagement partner realize a number of advantages:
- Increased speed to market. Partnering eliminates the need for EHR providers to develop, test, and QA homegrown solutions. That means it’s possible to get up and running with patient engagement in a fraction of the time, with much less risk.
- Cost savings. It’s estimated that development costs for a minimally viable patient engagement offering can approach $10 million, while ongoing product maintenance, development, data center and security costs can approach $2 million annually. In contrast, partnering with a patient engagement company typically requires an investment of around $750,000 per year.
- Focus on core competencies. Companies that are focused exclusively on patient engagement can help ensure EHR providers stay at the forefront of innovative technology, while remaining focused on their core product.
- Increase customer loyalty. Healthcare organizations need the loyalty of their patients, and patients that have access to modern, convenient patient engagement tools are more likely to remain loyal to their practitioners. Increased patient and provider satisfaction with patient engagement services reflects positively on the EHR vendor and makes their product more attractive within the industry.
- Interoperability opportunities. EHR vendors typically offer more than one product, and larger healthcare organizations often use disparate EHRs. Integrated patient engagement solutions can promote interoperability between EHRs by delivering the same patient and provider experience across an enterprise, working with several EHR platforms at the same time and streamlining patient engagement workflows.
As the relationship between health care organizations and patients evolves, the tools they use to bridge the provider-patient communication link must evolve as well. EHR providers that partner with a company that specializes in patient engagement can satisfy the demands of today’s marketplace while positioning themselves to quickly and cost-effectively bring to market the patient engagement solutions of tomorrow.