Healthcare providers today have no shortage of mobile apps, patient portals and digital engagement tools to offer patients. While this splurge of innovation is good for patients who demand and deserve better access and knowledge, it’s creating additional complexity for health system leadership. How can we meet patients' expectations without creating even more work for time-strapped clinicians? Furthermore, how do we tie together these disparate point solutions into a comprehensive digital experience for our patients?
This is no trivial task, but one that many IT leaders are facing with urgency as they seek to consolidate, not expand, their IT footprint. As a result, most IT leaders choose to “wait and see” if a single digital health or patient engagement platform will evolve. In the interim, they often take a reactive approach and accommodate the loudest clinicians who demand a solution for their niche clinical area.
Because of this, many health systems use patient engagement tools haphazardly, without a strategic plan and without thinking about how they support broader strategic priorities. Individual departments often pilot different engagement strategies and technologies that are disconnected from one another. Not only does this add even more variables to an already complex IT eco-system, but it creates a disjointed patient experience.
In the end, many hospitals find that adopting multiple disparate solutions results in a poor experience for patients and only creates more work for clinicians and IT teams. Fortunately, there is a better way to meet short-term needs without adding undue complexity.
What does it take to scale?
At GetWell Loop, we’ve had the good fortune of working with partners to scale patient engagement across the enterprise. Here are three key insights from that work:
- Building care pathways is hard and can be time consuming. While care plans must be personalized to align with variable practice patterns, it turns out that clinicians don’t really want to spend the time writing care plans from scratch and we’ve learned the hard way they aren’t necessarily great at it. Make sure you pick a partner that has a broad library of pre-built care plans that are based on evidence based medicine. Perhaps even more important, select a partner that has a deep bench of clinical professionals who can rapidly consult with your team to customize content in the most efficient manner possible.
- Integration is important, but can be phased-in as more care teams and patients leverage GetWell Loop over time. While you definitely need a partner who has a track record of successful integration, don’t integrate your patient engagement without understanding the value of that integration. Over time, we’ve learned which integrations are most critical to reduce tasks for clinicians (always a worthy goal), to get data back into clinical systems and to make the patient and clinical end user experience seamless. Depending on the use case where you are deploying patient engagement, the integration needs will likely vary and you need a partner who can coach you based on real experience deploying automated patient programs beyond hundred patient pilots.
- There is no such thing as the perfect digital health solution. While some progressive organizations are closer to a truly integrated end user experience, the pace of change in digital health is only accelerating. Select a partner that’s a learning organization and flexible to adapt within this rapidly changing ecosystem. If the partner hasn’t already scaled enterprise wide at similar health systems or providers, it’s unlikely they will have insights required to partner in driving successful adoption by both clinicians and patients.
An enabling technology
The goal of patient engagement technology should be to proactively provide patients with the skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their health, so they’re empowered and become active participants in their care rather than passive recipients. But for this to work, it can’t create more work for care teams.
This requires a solution capable of pushing personalized, episode-specific content around what to know, do and expect as a patient. By giving patients the right information at the right time and asking the right questions, we can “hot spot” those patients that require our direct support instead of simply opening the door to more ways for the patient to communicate. This exception-based approach avoids creating new work for clinicians, rather it focuses them where their “human touch” will have the greatest impact on outcomes. In other words, technology should guide providers to the right patient at the right time instead of the noisiest patient at the wrong time.
By consolidating engagement needs around a comprehensive single solution, health systems can transform disjointed engagement efforts into a streamlined process across departments and care settings. The patient engagement solution must offer a broad library of clinical care plans so that it can be deployed in multiple departments. It should also provide automated remote patient monitoring and care team coordination capabilities in order to extend care beyond the four walls of the hospital.
Perhaps most importantly, the right solution must focus on delivering measurable outcomes. GetWell Loop is most definitely a technology solution in the heart of the digital space, but when people ask us what we do, we proudly proclaim we focus on outcomes, transforming how patients receive care outside the four walls of a traditionally brick-and-mortar care system.