Healthcare providers are
moving forward with their digital initiatives, pursuing intranet development, implementing e-prescribing software, and deploying
EHR systems and patient portals to enhance patient care, maximize staff
efficiency, and improve the bottom line.
However, while medical professionals
are largely enthusiastic about digital healthcare solutions, the disparity
between the rate of clinical support and patient utilization of some of this
software, patient portals in particular, is enormous. Even though patient
self-service solutions have become ubiquitous in medical facilities nation-wide,
over 62% of US hospitals report that their patient portal systems are used by less than a quarter of all patients.
Patients still don’t see
enough value in patient portals, voicing concerns over the steep learning curve,
lack of training, anxiety regarding data security and confidentiality, and
other issues. Addressing these challenges is critical to encouraging patient
buy-in and getting more patients involved in their health.
Since most medical
facilities in the country already have patient portals in place, the next step
to overcome barriers to their adoption is to expand these systems to deliver
features that will get more patients involved.
WTF Health – ‘What’s the Future’ Health? is a new interview series about the future of the health industry and how we love to hate WTF is wrong with it right now. Can’t get enough? Check out more interviews at www.wtf.health.
Central to the ‘WTF Health’ ethos is the idea that around the world, there is a shared passion for creating a new future for healthcare — and that the less-positive ‘WTF moment’ is a shared experience, regardless of which country’s health system one is standing in.
So, I’m going around the world this year — to 17 different health innovation conferences in 11 different countries — to find out what innovators abroad are doing to tackle the problems in their health systems and what we can learn from one another.
Driving down the cost of care, managing chronic conditions, helping people achieve better health, improving care delivery and patient experience — these goals know no borders. What’s different is the framework around them. So, what if the payment model were different? What if there was a single electronic patient record? What if certain laws and regulations didn’t exist?
Different constraints breed different solutions. What a hopeful and inspiring idea. And, with any luck, food for your thoughts and innovative thinking.
So here is the first interview I’d like to share from abroad! Everyone meet Finnish startup Kaiku Health, fresh off closing a €4.4M Euro series A. Their patient monitoring monitoring platform lets cancer patients (and others with chronic diseases) self-report on how they’re doing, using their hospital’s existing patient portal. Stick around until the end: Bonus insight on the strengths of the health tech startup scene in the Nordics for those who want to go explore.
Filmed at Upgraded Life Festival in Helsinki, early June.
In the past, the AMA published an article questioning the merits of patient portals — the primary tool for engaging patients. Rob Tennant, senior policy adviser with the MGMA-ACMPE, the entity formed by the merger of the Medical Group Management Association and the American College of Medical Practice Executives raised the fundamental issue: “The business case just hasn’t been made.” I’ll attempt to make it.
Perhaps the best evidence of the business case is when industry visionaries/organizations/leaders such as HIMSS (the professional association for healthIT), Aetna and Kaiser Permanente have made significant investments in patient engagement.
I’ve excerpted a couple sections of Pam Dolan’s article on the topic to set context and then I will address the business case. The patient portal benefits assume that it’s more than a simplistic silo’ed patient portal tethered to an EHR since they are broadly available. [Disclosure: My company, Avado, is one many patient engagement companies.]
This is why I would call it the patient portal & relationship management system or simply patient relationship management system to distinguish it from traditional limited patient portals.
Often, at scientific conferences, the most important learning happens in the question and answer period.
I spoke at the American Diabetes Association conference earlier this year, presenting results of an observational study we did on medication adherence and diabetes.
We found that if people starting using the online patient portal (sometimes called the personal health record), to order their medication refills, they were more likely to take their medication regularly. Dr. Katherine Newton of Group Health Research Institute spoke before me, describing a randomized study showing that a clinical pharmacist-led blood pressure management program did not lower blood pressure any more than usual care by an outpatient provider.
The first audience comment came from a program officer from the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. Program officers are incredibly important because they help set the research priorities for the major funding mechanism for medical research. I will never forget her comment, because it was so strongly worded.
Hey there Accountable Care Organization executive.
You’re probably willing to continue to commit millions of dollars toward an electronic health record (EHR) coupled to an online patient portal. That’s because you’ve been told by your leadership team that electronic consumer empowerment, patient-provider communication and the substitution of efficient two-way messaging for costly face-to-face visits will increase quality, reduce expenses, generate shared savings and guarantee that your life-sized portrait will be prominently displayed in your flagship hospital’s lobby.
Well, after you’ve read a just-published JAMA research study by Ted Palen, Colleen Ross, David Powers and Stanley Xu, you may want to tell your administrative assistant to cancel that appointment with the portrait artist.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado added “MyHealthManager” (MHM) to their EHR in May 2006. MHM allows patients to view tests, records, problem lists as well as care plans, schedule appointments, request refills and message their doctors. By June of 2009, over 375,000 Kaiser patients had signed up for MHM. Of those, about 45% had used the system at least once. Of this number, Kaiser researchers pulled the records of 44,321 persons who had been continuously enrolled in the Kaiser system for at least two years.