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Allscripts Acquires HealthGrid to Enhance Patient Engagement Tools

The EHR vendor will absorb HealthGrid's patient engagement tools such as the patient portal.

allscripts patient engagement tools patient portal

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- EHR vendor Allscripts has acquired HealthGrid, a provider of enterprise patient engagement solutions that help connect patients with their providers.

The acquisition, which should be complete by the end of the second quarter of 2018, will allow Allscripts to absorb HealthGrid’s offerings into the Allscripts patient portal tool, FollowMyHealth. Currently, FollowMyHealth allows patients to utilize traditional patient portal functions including patient data access and secure messaging.

In absorbing HealthGrid, Allscripts will also offer patients appointment confirmations, waitlist notification, post-discharge surveys, and more tools that will help providers to meet the growing list of regulatory requirements.

The two technology companies do not plan to require patients to re-enroll in the patient portal, they said. Instead, Allscripts will simply absorb HealthGrid patient accounts, making the transfer seamless and preventing lagging reuptake of the patient portal. Ideally, this move will ensure provider users will not lose their patient portal adoption rates.

Allscripts and HealthGrid said the acquisition will allow providers to reach more of their patient panels with all-encompassing patient-provider communication. Both companies will benefit from the communication tools the other currently offers, they said.

“Adding these significant capabilities to our portfolio, further growing our FollowMyHealth platform, will benefit our clients and their patients, as our robust offering will create opportunities to reach new heights of patient outreach and engagement,” said Allscripts Solutions Development Executive Vice President Jim Hewitt.

The two companies also do not anticipate any technology hiccups during the transfer. Current HealthGrid users should not have to adopt an Allscripts EHR in order to use the newly enhanced FollowMyHealth patient portal, Hewitt confirmed.

“Additionally, it advances our EHR-agnostic approach,” he said. “You don’t have to have an Allscripts EHR to make this work.”

This move comes as a part of healthcare’s overall efforts to integrate the patient as the member of the care team. The patient portal is the key technology for doing so, as it grants patient access to health data, facilitate patient-provider communication, and can even allow patients to book appointments and pay medical bills.

As value-based healthcare models continue to take hold, it will be important that patients fall on a wellness trajectory. This will require the types of healthcare self-management made easier through patient portals, Hewitt said.

“Engaging consumers in their own health is critical to achieving a healthier tomorrow, and enabling meaningful connections between patients and providers is a crucial piece of fostering successful healthcare delivery,” he pointed out. “It’s a role Allscripts is proud to play—to improve the way patients engage with their own health and their clinicians is to fuel the progress of healthcare itself.”

Allscripts and HealthGrid may also be working to enhance their current technology capabilities to make the patient portal an more attractive technology for patients. Although helpful in the healthcare industry’s journey toward patient-centered and value-based care, patient portals have generally received tepid responses from patients.

Currently, about 90 percent of all healthcare providers offer their patients access to the patient portal, according to a 2017 analysis from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This trend runs concurrent with regulatory requirements for patient data access and health data exchange.

However, strong provider uptake has not necessarily translated to patient uptake. While provider portal adoption hovered around 90 percent in 2015, the report revealed that only 15 percent of hospital patients and 30 percent of patients visiting a non-hospital provider used the patient portal to view, download, or transmit their medical records.

As healthcare professionals continue their work to engage patients, they may be seeking more dynamic patient portals that are more attractive to patients. This current Allscripts and HealthGrid acquisition could be the companies’ efforts to make their tools more marketable to a patient audience.

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