As digital health and telemedicine technologies continue to explode, patients increasingly are being drawn into their care in ways unlike ever before. And hospitals and health systems know they must find ways to engage their patients to keep them healthy and satisfied.
Gary Hamilton is CEO of InteliChart (HIMSS23 Booth 3406), a vendor of patient engagement tools for healthcare provider organizations of all sizes. The idea behind the technology is to gather actionable data about patient populations and devise solutions to improve outcomes.
Healthcare IT News sat down with Hamilton to discuss patient engagement, related technologies, and what health IT leaders should be focusing on in the year ahead.
Q. What is the most pressing issue or trend facing healthcare information technology at this moment as the industry gathers for HIMSS23?
A. The consumerization of healthcare is giving patients more control over how and from whom they receive care, and healthcare leaders are finding they must adjust to patient demands to ensure patient retention and new patient acquisition.
Every stakeholder – from physicians to health systems to EHR providers – is enacting strategies to shift our historically physician-centric healthcare system to one that is built around the individual. And while the rise in healthcare consumerism isn’t new, providers have been slow to pivot and mimic best practices in other industries.
On a related front, the fact that health systems have historically focused most of their energies on physicians and staff is unintentionally revealing a core misconception – the notion that patients are loyal. Today’s tech-savvy patients have high expectations for every encounter with their provider – especially the digital ones.
Having a robust patient engagement strategy that integrates with every step of the healthcare journey positions organizations to cultivate patient loyalty. On the flipside, ignoring patients’ needs can be detrimental to providers, leading to increased patient churn, low patient satisfaction, decreased quality performance and even poor individual health outcomes.
At the center of it all is the patient, and the time has come for the healthcare industry to look at consumer experience with more urgency. There are many drivers converging in healthcare that will make patient experiences a crucial factor in determining providers’ long-term success, and understanding how to leverage patient engagement technology will be critical in helping providers address the ongoing shift toward consumerism in healthcare as well as transform the patient experience and empower patients to take an active role in their care.
Q. What is the primary message that your company is trying to get through to the healthcare provider organization health IT leaders on the exhibit floor at HIMSS23?
A. Because of the focus on the patient-as-consumer mindset, a sometimes-overlooked benefit of patient engagement is its role in creating active patients. In addition to providing the technical tools patients demand, patient engagement creates the opportunity for patients to become actively involved in their care, which reports show increase patient satisfaction and create better health outcomes.
The better the exchange of information, the better providers can activate patients to take more responsibility in their own care.
Clinicians need to meet patients where they are in the ability to be engaged with their care journey, and they need to tailor their engagement efforts accordingly to maximize their resources. Through the eyes of the patient, we’re showcasing how a single-source engagement platform empowers a better patient experience by offering providers the digital capabilities necessary to bring their patient experience initiatives to life.
Additionally, we’re demonstrating how technology ensures healthier outcomes by encouraging patients to take an active role in their healthcare journey and how simplifying patient engagement at every stage of that journey improves care quality, boosts efficiencies and eases the burden on overworked providers.
Q. What should CIOs, CMIOs, CISOs and other health IT leaders at provider organizations keep their eyes on in the year ahead?
A. Patient experience is certainly on the front-burner for organizations as it impacts not only patient retention and acquisition, but also labor workflows and the shift to reimbursement under value-based payment models via population health initiatives.
Patient engagement is the bridge that will empower providers to make healthcare more convenient, accessible and user-friendly, while at the same time more individually focused with messaging and campaigns that can be sent to patients according to diagnosis or procedure.
Health systems need to understand what patients and providers want, and they’re going to have to deploy digital solutions that meet those needs. By focusing on innovative approaches to extend the clinical setting, engage patients wherever they are, and explore staffing models that empower clinicians to work top of license, leaders can move the needle on advancing the best possible care for all.
This article was originally published on Healthcare IT News on April 18, 2023. You can view the article here.