- Healthcare professionals are increasingly looking into patient engagement technology solutions that help them determine how and when to best engage a healthcare consumer, according to a report from Black Book Research.
The report includes testimony from nearly 750 industry leaders, including chief information officers, chief financial officers, and hospital managers. Ninety percent of respondents said that patient engagement technology will dominate their population health management tools going forward.
These plans will likely influence a 177 percent jump in population heath management and patient engagement systems consulting going into 2018-2019, Black Book predicted.
Stronger population health management tools will help clinicians deliver more meaningful patient engagement, informing them of the best ways and most effective times to engage a certain patient population.
The push for more value-based care is fueling this shift toward patient engagement and population health management, the report showed. That’s why leading EHR and health IT vendors – such as Epic, Allscripts, and Cerner – will be at the head of the pack, Black Book suggested. These vendors are known for integrating new, value-based care systems during the current shift from fee-for-service healthcare.
"Where the industry is on its journey, however, we see that progress remains nascent, but the activity and energy are high," said Black Book Research managing partner Doug Brown.
"Clearly, the best articulation of this energy is coming from the leading electronic medical record (EMR) suppliers, namely Epic Systems, Allscripts and Cerner, that have previously provided fee-for-service (FFS) platforms and are now fully investing in new, non-FFS tethered platforms to manage population health," Brown added.
The report also predicted that Optum, Philips, and IBM will be strong contenders in this field going forward.
The push for more integrated population health management and patient engagement technologies stems from the need for more comprehensive patient data.
Most of a patient’s health is defined by what goes on outside of the doctor’s office, otherwise known as the social determinants of health. Technologies must integrate social determinant data to help clinicians maintain a working knowledge of patient health.
Tools that integrate various data sets will be most effective, Brown said.
"There is an overriding potential of the IoT to integrate wearables into patient portals, EMRs and [population health management] solutions," Brown says.
There is also enormous potential for public and private sector collaboration, Black Book pointed out. The Medicaid system keeps a plethora of social determinant data about beneficiaries, including claims, immunizations, welfare, socioeconomic, and public health record data.
This information should be integrated into hospital health records as a source of social determinant data to help clinicians better deliver patient engagement strategies. Additionally, healthcare professionals must determine a method for integrating this kind of data for privately insured patients.
Being able to view and use social determinant data is a key aspect of patient engagement efforts in population health management. Healthcare professionals must be able to identify high-risk patients and subsequently deliver the most effective engagement measures to prevent them from becoming sicker.
“It’s not enough to be really good when somebody falls in your door,” Heritage Medical Systems President Mark Wagar said in a previous interview. “It’s in fact as important, if not more important, to be able to figure out how to work with them to improve their general health status so that they have fewer events where they fall in the door.”
To be able to do this, healthcare professionals need a working knowledge of a patient’s personal situation.
“If you’re able to outreach to them, if you’re able to help them engage with their lifestyle – things some of which have nothing to do technically with medical benefits – you can change the severity of things that inevitably happen,” Wagar explained. “You can avoid some of them and make them not inevitable, and when they do happen they may be less severe.”
As noted in the Black Book report, health technology can enhance this knowledge by integrating it into the medical record. Healthcare professionals can improve their patient engagement efforts by making this information available to clinicians all in one place.