3 steps to engage patients, personalize care and strengthen your health system's brand

3 tips for healthcare providers looking to become more productive and patient-centric.

Currently, a patient might see her primary care physician for a physical and not hear anything about the results until she comes back for another appointment the next year. The healthcare provider may end up running the same tests again at that point only to discover the patient is pre-diabetic, has been for at least a year, and yet no action has been taken to enlist the patient in a program aimed at avoiding full blown Type II diabetes. Operating this way, where clients of the healthcare system are treated as a number rather than an important individual, is generating huge avoidable costs and a poor patient experience; a state of affairs that is increasingly untenable as the healthcare industry transitions to a value-based, population health-centric approach that rewards quality, says Brad Bostic, CEO and founder of the healthcare cloud software company hc1.com.

Additionally, given the rise of consumerism in healthcare, health systems must focus on connecting with patients and providing care that leads to a positive perception of their brand, according to Mr. Bostic. "You can now engage those patients in a personalized manner that helps them take control of their specific situation," he says. "Ultimately you need to create an affinity between consumers and your health system."

He offers the following three tips for healthcare providers looking to become more productive and patient-centric.

1. Create a unified patient profile. The first step to personalizing the care experience is bringing together information from all of the different silos within the health system — ranging from clinical results to scheduling to billing, according to Mr. Bostic. He says health systems need to unify the "silos of fragmented information housed among various IT systems into a real-time, holistic profile to gain actionable insight that fosters better decision making and enables personalized service."

2. Find ways to engage patients and providers. Once health system leaders have created patient profiles, they can look for opportunities to reach out to both patients and providers to improve and personalize the care experience. For instance, the health system might identify pre-diabetic patients and target them with specialized campaigns to help them stay well such as reminding them of recurring blood tests and making them aware of health coaching or fitness programs. "Once you have these real-time patient and provider profiles, you can then automatically engage with individuals using tailored communication that enables them to better manage their health," says Mr. Bostic.

3. Present the health system as a unified entity. In order to create patient affinity for the health system's brand, it's important for leaders and clinicians to think about care delivery and present information to the patient in a way that makes it clear that the service is part of the system's overall care experience. "Patients tend to primarily identify with the given practitioner that they go to meet with," Mr. Bostic says. "That's who they think of as the brand of their healthcare experience. You really need the health system to begin adding this level of overlay to make it so that the patient is now actually identifying with the health system's brand."

Overall, he says health systems must personalize their care delivery approach to succeed in the changing industry: "What you must have moving forward is the ability to engage on an individualized level with both providers and patients. Other industries, such as retail, have always focused on treating customers and individuals. It is now time for healthcare leaders to deliver personalized service that not only keeps pace with these industries. To be successful moving forward, healthcare must exceed these standards with an experience that caters to the needs of providers and patients to have an outstanding care experience."

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