Disrupt the pattern of patient frustration: Leaders' advice for revamping engagement

The quality of the patient care experience extends far beyond the exam room as it encompasses every interaction before and after the patient's exam-room experience.

By simplifying appointment scheduling, treatment plans, prescription refills and everything in between, technology can serve as a care team member.

During a Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Nuance Communications, five healthcare leaders discussed how patient engagement technology can help better meet individuals' needs, remove administration friction throughout the patient journey and make people feel more connected and understood. Panelists were:

  • Jennifer Wesson Greenman, chief information officer, Cancer Treatment Centers of America Global, part of City of Hope, in Tampa, Fla.
  • Tamara Havenhill-Jacobs, chief information officer, Bozeman Health in Bozeman, Mont.
  • Jackie Rice, vice president, chief information officer, Frederick Health in Frederick, Md.
  • Star Rivera, chief patient experience officer, St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, N.Y.
  • Michelle Sporleder, director product management, patient engagement solutions, Nuance Communications

Four key takeaways were:

  1. To advance patient engagement and health equity, organizations must focus on empowerment and choice. In seeking to improve health equity in underserved communities, empowerment is critical. In recent years, there's been a push for healthcare organizations to rethink what patient engagement looks like. "I think it's the evolution of care to support personalization and create inclusive environments," Ms. Rivera said. "It's individualized, collaborative and values connections that build trust. We need to create safe spaces for people to feel that they are heard and are able to participate in their care as true partners."                     
  1. The administrative burden associated with patient engagement technologies can't be ignored. "The healthcare workforce can't deliver a world-class experience to patients and caregivers if they themselves have a subpar experience," Ms. Wesson Greenman said. Organizations must automate as much of the administrative burden as possible. Frederick Health, for example, has been piloting Dragon Ambient Experience so that providers are able to maintain eye contact with patients as they talk with them. "By the time they get back to their desks, the notes are practically written. One physician said it's changed his life," Ms. Rice said.
  1. If organizations use technology tools to gather patient feedback, they must be prepared to react to this feedback. Bozeman Health recognizes that choices about where to seek healthcare belong to the patient. About five years ago, the organization started measuring Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in its retail health areas and then expanded NPS measures to all its clinics. In order to respond to this real-time patient input, the team has built an infrastructure. "If you use Net Promoter Scores as an indicator of patient engagement, you must have someone who can react if opportunities for service recovery arise," Ms. Havenhill-Jacobs said.
  1. Look for a patient engagement technology vendor with a holistic, platform approach. "Find a partner to go on this journey with you," Ms. Sporleder said. "You won't roll everything out at once. Focus first on the most impactful change for patients and the workforce that will be the lightest lift in terms of implementation." The goal is to avoid managing multiple disparate software solutions that don't work together well and that provide patients with an inconsistent experience when they interact with the organization.

When it comes to improving patient engagement, healthcare leaders recognize that there's no time to waste. "There was a time when we talked about patient engagement in terms of three-to-five-year roadmaps. That's no longer realistic. We need to think about what will be needed in six months or a year. Having the right technology platform can facilitate the high velocities that this industry needs right now," Ms. Wesson Greenman said.

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