What does patient-centered care look like in the 21st century? What part of understanding patients has to do with understanding the new technology and tools designed to improve the patient experience and provide more quality and value? The editor and founder of healthcarescene.com, John Lynn, talked to us about the evolution of patient care technology (EHR), how that technology can impact your practice and what you can do with it to better serve your patients. He gives an insightful overview of the main "patient personas" in today's healthcare landscape, their pain points, as well as some actionable ideas for using current healthcare technologies to better serve these individuals. Here's a recap of John's in-depth presentation:
1. How often should our office engage with patients? (ie: birthdays, follow-ups, etc)
Patient messages should be customized for each patient. Personalization is important for all patient interactions and that includes frequency. When it comes to frequency, do not think about how often you should contact them as a best practice, but instead consider if the communication can provide value to the patient. If you are providing value to the patient, you can message them as many times as you want. If you are not providing value from each message, you shouldn’t send the message in the first place.
2. Do you have any suggestions on how to add value on the patient portal to encourage patients to use it?
The most important feature is having access to the practice, this would not necessarily be access to the provider. If a patient can have the practice address inquiries (ie: refills, questions, etc.) they are more likely to use of the patient portal. A great way to start a patient on the portal would be allowing them to pay bills through it. This will get them started, then they will be able to see the other functionality, such as appointment scheduling, accessing medical records, messaging the practice, refilling requests, and getting lab results. Layering on capabilities will help promote the usage of a patient portal. Patient portals will save your practice lots of time if implemented properly.
3. As CMS promotes value-based care, is there anything I can do for non-compliant patients?
The key is to know why the patients chooses not to be compliant. Understanding why patients make certain decisions will help you determine how to help them. For example, if a patient didn’t take their medication because they forgot, a simple reminder could work. But if a patient couldn’t afford it, doesn’t have a ride to the office, is afraid of contraindications, etc.; sending a message could actually shame them and cause more problems. Offices should understand why a patient isn’t complying and address it in the right way. Once you know the reason for non-compliance, you can then implement programs to ensure they are doing what they need to improve their health.
4. How soon will private insurance begin to implement incentive and penalty programs like MACRA?
This is unknown to everyone. A prediction is that the private insurance will cherry-pick certain efforts and measures to incorporate them into their own incentive program. This will likely be used to reach their goals of cost as an organization. A guess is that elements of MACRA will be adopted but not the full program. There is no timeline or plan set in place yet.
5. When looking for an EHR, what are features you would recommend looking for to be up to date with technology?
When evaluating EHR software, there are a lot of factors at play. However, instead of looking for specific features, I recommend you look at the goals you want to achieve by implementing the EHR software. Do you want to lower costs? Do you want to improve care? Do you want to be ready for government programs? Do you want to improve reimbursement? Having these goals in hand give you a framework you can use to evaluate the various EHR vendors. After this, I also suggest evaluating EHR vendors’ product roadmap. Do they have a forward-thinking roadmap that’s going to continue to enhance your EHR investment or have they stopped innovating? Technology is constantly changing, so make sure your EHR vendor is keeping pace and incorporating new innovations that will benefit your practice.
6. The doctor doesn’t like change. How do I talk him into updating systems and getting in touch with technology?
It’s challenging to talk someone into something. That’s especially true for a doctor who doesn’t want to change. However, over time you can chip away at doctors like these by showing them all the features and functions they’re missing out on by not updating their system. Once they’ve seen enough features that they’re missing, the competitiveness can often kick in and then it will be their idea to update your systems.