Patient engagement – beyond the portal

The concurrent rise of healthcare consumerism and value-based care has made patient engagement a top-of-mind concern for many healthcare executives. These forward-looking leaders understand that reaching patients beyond the four walls of a clinic or hospital will be an essential component of their organization's future success.

This content is sponsored by Allscripts.

Allscripts' Raj Toleti, senior vice president and general manager, HealthGrid Division, recently answered four questions touching on the themes of patient engagement, value-based care and healthcare consumerism. Mr. Toleti is the founder of HealthGrid, which is a leading mobile patient engagement solution. Allscripts acquired HealthGrid in May, significantly expanding its FollowMyHealth platform.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How has patient engagement evolved over the past five years?

Raj Toleti: As providers move from fee-for-service to value-based-care models, the requirement to electronically engage patients outside the four walls of the practice has become increasingly important. Patient utilization of the traditional portal has remained low, at about 10 percent. Providers have recognized they need a robust outreach strategy to effectively close gaps in care, demonstrate quality and maximize reimbursement.

Until recently, their solution was to deploy multiple-point, fragmented solutions – such as outreach for population health, SMS-based reminder systems, online scheduling and patient satisfaction measurements – that had been stitched together across care settings.

Providers today are looking for an enterprise platform that combines these capabilities and more into one system, one database. They're looking for a single solution that provides a consistent care experience, regardless of care setting, and makes it easier for patients to participate in their own care.

Q: What role do you see patient engagement playing in the transition to value-based care?

RT: Patient engagement is the last mile in population health management and it holds the key to driving success with value-based care. Technology needs to bridge – not create – gaps in care. For instance, many systems generate reports and identify patient lists, but stop short of empowering physicians with tools to act on clinical reporting.

Technology should enable providers to act on clinical reporting and help their patients become active partners in their own care. For example, it should help schedule regular preventative care visits or help patients manage chronic conditions by monitoring key indicators. Value-based care is all about being proactive, and without robust patient engagement capabilities, it will not yield optimal results.

Q: What changes do you anticipate to reimbursements for nontraditional visits, such as e-visits?

RT: CMS has signaled that it recognizes the value of electronic interventions in reducing the cost of care. For instance, if providers can converse with a patient through text, email or video, they will be eligible to receive reimbursement for those services. This is a lower cost and often more convenient option for patients.

Patient engagement is changing, because providers need to meet consumer demand. Patients want to use electronic forms of communication, just as they do in many other areas of their lives. The more likely they are to use patient engagement technology, the more likely it is that providers can capture reimbursement for those interactions.

Our patient engagement model consistently reaches a 70 percent utilization rate, which helps increase providers' chances of reimbursement. It also increases the provider's capacity to see more patients. When patients have greater access to their providers and relevant communications are delivered at the correct moment in their care journey – it leads to better care and better outcomes.

Q: What is the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of patient engagement systems?

RT: Patient engagement has been duct taped together utilizing disparate solutions. Providers might have three or four solutions, when in an ideal state, they would have a single enterprise platform with all the technology and features they need to engage patients effectively.

With a solid enterprise patient engagement solution in place, an ambulatory care practice, a hospital or a health system will find dramatic improvements in their ability to properly execute on their quality and satisfaction goals. A solution that considers ease of access, patient utilization, the total cost of ownership, and delivery of a strong return on investment will pave the way for meaningful engagement that increases population health.

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