How digital platforms are innovating to meet consumer expectations: 2 leaders weigh in 

As technologies, including telehealth and remote monitoring tools, have become more essential to care delivery, healthcare providers are turning to various apps to meet changing consumer expectations and transform the patient experience.

During Becker's CEO+CFO Virtual Event on Nov. 12, Michael Palantoni, Vice President of Platform Services at Athenahealth, moderated a discussion with industry experts on the trends driving the evolution of digital platforms in healthcare.

"We have three themes that the healthcare ecosystem is responding to: the accelerating rate of value-based contract participation both in Medicare and commercial populations; the corresponding investment in digital health and patient experience; and consumerism generally becoming more prominent, both in terms of patient liability, risk and ownership through high deductible health plans and consumer experience in the landscape," Mr. Palantoni said.

Additional discussion participants were:

  • Sherry Slick, CIO and COO at Marathon Health (Winooski, Vt.)
  • Abu Bakar, Chief Information and Digital Officer of Summit Medical Group (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) and CityMD (New York City)

Here's an excerpt from the conversation, edited for clarity. To view the full session on-demand, click here.

Question: When you think about building a patient experience platform, what are the components? What approach do you use – is it for your own app development and innovation or for inviting others in? Or is it for using other components and creating a best-of-breed model across multiple technologies?

Abu Bakar: It's not a one window, one-size-fits-all situation. We try to pull together the best-of-breed solutions so it makes most sense for the patients. We always want to keep the patient experience central; we want to deliver the care to them rather than them have to come to us to get care. To do this, we need the right tools, skills, people and infrastructure, which is the combination of a lot of strategic partners like Athenahealth and others we have.

We have built more and more capabilities in-house to control the patient experience layer as much as we can, because that's what we're focused on versus a lot of the system of records, compliance and the care delivery that is so complex for us to do. We leave that for some of our partners while we focus on improving the experience with customized high-touch, digital-friendly and mobile-friendly solutions. That's what we've been doing. It's a hybrid of both.

Sherry Slick: We definitely take an ecosystem approach. We have internally built applications and combined them with best-in-class, off-the shelf solutions, with Athenahealth being one of our core partners, then we try to masterfully stitch these solutions together. This puts us in a position for more rapid innovation, faster scale and value creation for our patients and our clients.

The reality is there is no one app that can do everything, so we've kind of hand selected the system of record, like Athenahealth. For us, the decision was easy because Athenahealth had an open API and access to all the data. Those were two of the main criteria for us. Then, as you build on to that, it allows you to focus on the things that differentiate you; we focus our development efforts on things that will really create that fantastic patient experience and then, obviously, we do a lot of data movement. We do the magic on the backend. Having systems of record like Athenahealth helps us do that.

Some people might think that it's kind of a plug and play, but you know what? It's actually not. It's not easy. Integration and operability in healthcare is not easy, and if you master this, you're going to grow faster. You're going to have a better experience for your patients. It has worked well for us.

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