These investments may also fall short of addressing later-stage meaningful-use requirements that stress patient engagement in healthcare technology. Electronic health records, practice management, care coordination and revenue-cycle applications are necessary investments. However, care-coordination programs, such as telemedicine and provider communications, do not fully capture or support patient and community engagement opportunities.
Other industries (banking, communications, media, etc.) have clearly demonstrated that engaging customers and harnessing the power of individuals and communities can both transform business models and reduce costs—outcomes that are clearly attractive to the healthcare industry.
The concept is simple: Informed and engaged patients are more likely to focus on wellness, adhere to treatment protocols and decline treatments that they deem unnecessary or are not aligned with their lifestyle goals. Patient information also needs to be packaged and communicated to the patient or their caregiver in the medium of his or her choice, whether that is mobile, PC or by telephone. Better patient and community engagement can also shift some of the burden of care away from the hospitals and into the home. All of this reduces costs, improves outcomes and leads to higher patient satisfaction.
Core applications do not address those issues, representing a lost opportunity among healthcare IT managers. Healthcare IT skills necessary to reach the full potential of patient engagement are also in short supply. Critical skills in “big data,” customer relationship management, mobility, user experience, cybersecurity, etc., have not historically been “core” to healthcare IT functions, creating obstacles to conceive, design, build and deploy these capabilities. As a result, the pace of adoption of using technology to improve patient engagement will likely lag until hospitals and other healthcare organizations successfully acquire these capabilities.
Liam Walsh is advisory leader in the U.S. Healthcare and Life Sciences practice at KPMG.