PatientEngagementHIT

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Patient Relationship Management Tools Emerging Health Technology

Patient relationship management tools will be integral to healthcare organizations' patient outreach efforts.

patient relationship management

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Patient relationship management (PRM) tools are slated to become increasingly popular has medical groups continue to drive patient-centered care, according to a new market report from Chilmark Research.

With healthcare’s shift toward more patient-centric care, healthcare organizations are tapping new technology solutions that can target patient outreach, care coordination, and better support for patient self-care outside of the medical facility.

The report, provided to PatientEngagementHIT.com via email, outlined how healthcare organizations will begin using targeted outreach tools to support their patient-centered organizational goals. Specifically, providers will tap tools that fall under one of seven categories:

  • Personal health records, data
  • Care coordination
  • Patient education
  • Patient-provider communication and secure messaging
  • Revenue cycle management
  • Marketing
  • Patient portals

Current patient engagement solutions are falling short, the report authors contended. The PRM market is largely fragmented because most of the nearly 60 vendors Chilmark analyzed only offer solutions that include some, not all, of the different PRM needs. A tool that manages revenue cycle management may not include patient education outreach, for example.

Additionally, there is fragmentation related to market audiences. While that revenue cycle management tool or a secure messaging tool could reach a broad audience with varying health needs, a patient education tool would likely reach only a niche audience with a specific health condition.

But PRM solutions have time to come into their own, the report authors noted. Currently, healthcare organizations are not taking on enough financial risk to justify significant PRM investments and have too many other health IT priorities to manage other technology purchases.

The market is slated for slow growth and will take roughly two or three years to realize full market potential. Medical groups will likely not start purchasing these tools en masse until about 2020.

When healthcare organizations do adopt PRM tools, it will likely be because they need to manage alternative payment models such as bundled payments or accountable care organizations (ACOs), the report authors noted.

PRM tools are poised to meet healthcare organizations’ needs. Current patient engagement platforms are falling short, the report argued. Patient portals have limited uptake and use and are tied to specific episodes of care. Other tools aren’t useful out of context of the care encounter or are specific to only one healthcare organization.

Healthcare organizations looking for more specificity with their patient outreach efforts will eventually turn to PRM tools, which can connect the patient, provider, and payer. These tools can extend outside of the care encounter and support overall patient behavior change, the authors noted.

There is no current dominant PRM vendor. However, some segments such as care coordination and marketing tools emerge as the most common. Personal health records are also due for an insurgence of organizational investment, as made evident by Apple’s Health Records launch, the report authors pointed out.

Additionally, patients report a need for tools to help aggregate all of their medical records. While personal health records do currently exist, their current form is not enough. Patients and provider still struggle to reconcile medical records stemming from disparate health systems and are usually unable to store that information in one central location.

Ultimately, adopting an effective patient engagement and outreach strategy will be essential in an increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace, said report lead authors Brian Eastwood.

"Every HCO needs to identify how to effectively improve patient engagement and outreach efforts in order to survive and compete in the modern healthcare ecosystem – regardless if they are engaging in traditional fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement, experimenting with VBC contracts, or taking on greater risk through accountable care organization (ACO) or Medicare Shared Savings Plan (MSSP) arrangements,” Eastwood stated. “Whether the goal is brand loyalty, better self-management, or improved quality scores, an effectively engaged patient is key to success in a more outcomes-focused market.”

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