- At the HIMSS18 conference, it seems as though all healthcare professionals could talk about was patient engagement. Between industry leaders’ vows to better support patient access to health data to launches of innovative patient engagement technology, this year’s conference certainly focused on the patient’s role in healthcare.
CMS makes promises for patient health data access, interoperability
Perhaps the biggest patient engagement news out of HIMSS18 was CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s MyHealthEData announcement. MyHealthEData is a new CMS initiative to get health data in the hands of all patients and to give those patients the power to send that data to whomever they choose.
Patients should be the owners of their health data and have the right to ensure their providers and family caregivers can seamlessly access this data, Verma said in her address.
“Patients need to be able to control their information and know that it’s secure and private,” Verma stated. “Having access to their medical information will help them make decisions about their care, and have a better understanding of their health.”
Verma noted that these efforts, as well as others geared toward patient health data access, will require the healthcare industry to band together in the name of interoperability. Different devices must be able to handle any type of data from any other tool she said. To that end, CMS also made announcements to support better interoperability within the healthcare industry.
Mayo Clinic, Wellpepper support patient education
To kick off the conference, the Mayo Clinic announced that it will be offering its patient education materials on the Wellpepper platform. Wellpepper is a patient engagement application geared toward delivering care plans to patients.
The partnership will let patients use any EHR tool to access care plans developed at the Mayo Clinic using the Wellpepper application. Starting in early 2018, the Mayo Clinic will offer its care plans targeted at cardiac rehabilitation, headache, and sports medicine patients. The two entities reported plans to roll out patient education tools for other healthcare needs at a later date.
Wellpepper reported that users are over 70 percent engaged in the care plans offered via the tool. Research from Boston University and Harvard University has indicated that these patient education materials help improve care outcomes for patients, the vendor said.
Leaders from the Mayo Clinic hope that expanding access to patient education tools will improve patient engagement across the country.
"Wellpepper and Mayo Clinic share a continuous commitment to providing care that ultimately benefits patients," Steve Ommen, MD, interim medical director of Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions, said in a statement. "We look forward to the opportunity to share our best practices with other health systems through the Wellpepper platform."
Patients are demanding access to health IT
A very common thread through HIMSS18 was patient desires for access to patient engagement technology. A series of industry reports released at the conference indicated that patients are ready to integrate health IT into their wellness activities.
In recent years, providers have harbored the notion that patients are not always well-suited for patient engagement technology. Concerns about patient health literacy, patient-provider relationships, and patient readiness and willingness to adopt these tools have gotten in the way of provider engagement strategies.
Now, the time is ripe for providers to offer their patients access to patient engagement technologies, and innovative technologies at that. Research released this week from KLAS showed that providers and vendors are heavily focused on the patient portal, while patients are ready for emerging tools such as patient outreach technology.
One report from Accenture showed that patients are ready for artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. These tools make care access more convenient, patients reported to Accenture.
Another survey from NTT DATA Services found that 59 percent of patients want to see their digital healthcare experiences reflect retail experiences. Brands such as Amazon and Starbucks have set a standard for an engaging digital experience. Patients are demanding similar technologies in healthcare that would transform the industry to a consumer-centric one.
Ride share companies make major announcements
Companies not specializing in healthcare also turned their focus to patients at HIMSS18. At the start of the conference, ride share companies Uber and Lyft both made promises to close gaps in patient medical transportation barriers.
Uber launched Uber Health, a dashboard specifically intended to help patients and providers arrange rides to and from medical practices. The dashboard will come complete with instructions to help patients who are using Uber for the first time arrange their medical transportation.
Lyft also announced a commitment to close the gap in patients having access to transportation. In partnership with EHR vendor Allscripts, Lyft will be available to providers within the EHR. Providers can make a note about patients who might need assistance getting to their medical appointments, and within the same tool request a ride for patients.
Providers across the country have been leveraging partnerships with Uber, Lyft, and other ride share companies to address this social determinant of health. It is difficult to engage a patient who is not at the medical appointment, but ride share companies can help close this gap.