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Reports Note Uptick in Hospital Patient Engagement Technology

The Most Wired rankings and a Spyglass report show that hospitals across the country are investing heavily in patient engagement technology.

Hospitals are putting a emphasis on more patient engagement technology adoption.

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- US hospitals and health systems are increasingly adopting patient engagement technology to enhance their care quality and drive outcomes, according to two separate reports from the American Hospital Association’s Hospital & Health Networks (H&HN) and Spyglass Consulting Group.

H&HN released its annual Most Wired rankings earlier this week, stating that patient engagement technology is at the forefront for the country’s leading hospitals. These top-performing hospitals are using mobile devices, telehealth, and other patient-facing tools to help connect patients to their health data and providers.

Seventy-six percent of Most Wired hospitals use secure messaging between patients and providers, and 74 percent use secure email messaging with home-care patients and their providers. Sixty-eight percent of Most Wired hospitals are also letting patients digitally request prescription refills and 64 percent of top-ranked hospitals collect patient-generated health data (PGHD) in the EHR.

Most Wired hospitals are also using telehealth and virtual health to stay connected with remote patients. Approximately half of top performers are using telehealth to connect with patients, and 40 percent conduct virtual physician visits.

Another 40 percent of Most Wired hospitals offer real-time consults for patients managing diabetes or congestive heart failure.

“The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology option to create more ways to reach their patients in order to provide access to care,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. “They are transforming care delivery, investing in new delivery models in order to improve quality, provide access and control costs.”

The Most Wired list also includes super-users of other types of healthcare technology, such as big data analytics, machine learning, and clinical decision support.

A separate report from Spyglass Consulting Group showed a similar trend. Gathering information from 100 in-depth interviews with hospital professionals, the report found that 89 percent of hospitals and health systems have made significant investments in patient engagement technology.

These investments were geared toward activating patients and their family caregivers through engagement and education. Ultimately, hospitals and health systems want patients and family caregivers to take on a health manager role. Stronger patient engagement will ideally lead to better health outcomes, according to the report.

External reimbursement programs have also driven the rise of patient engagement technology in healthcare, according to the data. Programs such as meaningful use, value-based care programs, the readmission reduction program, and CAHPS surveys have all led to a push for more patient engagement.

These programs have specifically given rise to patient portals and other patient-facing technologies because the payment models require healthcare providers to offer patients digital access to their own health data.

Going forward, hospitals and health systems will target chronically ill patients, with 89 percent of survey respondents stating they will integrate digital patient engagement tools with evidence-based care plans. Most hospitals are targeting patients with asthma, diabetes, cancer, stroke risk or history, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

However, investing in patient engagement technology and spurring patient adoption has proven difficult. The Spyglass report stated that hospitals struggle with end-user adoption and grappling with convoluted technology requirements.

These tools are also expensive. Forty-nine percent of hospitals and health systems reported to Spyglass they have future plans to collaborate with CMS and other third-party healthcare payers to explore reimbursement plans for technology adoption and use.

Despite some challenges, the report suggested that healthcare organizations are ready for a further transition to patient-centered care and are poised to adopt and use the technologies needed to prioritize the patient.

Between the rise of risk-based payment models to the push for overall better care outcomes, healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of patient engagement in healthcare.

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