Collaboration in patient engagement is the missing link in EHR - MedCity News

EHRs have revolutionized care delivery, allowing healthcare organizations to document clinical cases and manage patient records more easily. However, as patients continue to become more active and engaged in their care, EHR vendors are under pressure to evolve their systems to be more user-centric.

In a perfect world, patients would have easy access to the data they need to manage their care directly from their provider’s EHR, and EHR companies would have the capabilities to provide patient engagement solutions that make the exchange of information between patient and provider seamless.

A persistent barrier to the flow of information between providers and patients is that EHRs were not originally designed to support patient engagement as a core function. Regardless, EHRs must provide patient engagement tools to their clients so they can more easily keep up with changing patient care expectations.

Today, patients expect the tools they need to communicate directly with their provider about all aspects of their care, including scheduling appointments and accessing health records. Healthcare organizations have also changed. While they once relied on phone calls and paper records, they now use secure messaging and digital workflows.

Patient engagement tools and functionalities are the missing links between EHRs, providers and patients. And patient engagement is constantly evolving, making it a moving target for EHR companies looking to bridge the gap between patients and their health information. EHRs have only two choices: develop in-house patient engagement tools or collaborate with a patient engagement partner.

Building internal engagement solutions

Building in-house patient engagement solutions may initially seem like an attractive go-to-market strategy for EHR providers. However, many quickly realize that this is an inefficient and expensive endeavor.

Building even a minimum viable patient engagement proposition requires significant development resources and can easily take much longer than expected. Additionally, the startup costs of these solutions are prohibitive and often underestimated.

EHR vendors must also recognize that they are not experts in patient engagement, which can cause unforeseen challenges and inefficiencies when trying to develop these products in-house.

Patient engagement is also not a one-time endeavor. Patient needs and the technology needed to support those needs will continue to evolve over time, necessitating the need for consistent innovation. EHR companies must be prepared to commit future resources to the products they develop in-house. However, many see this drain of time and finances as a diversion from the company’s core product offering.

Partnerships for long-term benefits

Rather than trying to build solutions in-house, partnering with a patient engagement technology provider is the simplest and most cost-effective way to provide the communication link required by today’s healthcare consumer.

EHR companies that work with a patient engagement partner realize a number of benefits:

  1. Increased speed to market. The partnership eliminates the need for EHR vendors to develop, test and QA their own solutions. This means you can be up and running with patient engagement in a fraction of the time, with much less risk.
  2. Cost reduction. It has been estimated that the cost of developing a minimum viable patient engagement proposition can approach $10 million, while the ongoing costs of product support, development, data center and security can approach $2 million per year. In contrast, partnering with a patient engagement company typically requires an investment of about $750,000 per year.
  3. Focus on core competencies. Companies that are focused exclusively on patient engagement can help ensure that EHR providers stay at the forefront of innovative technology while remaining focused on their core product.
  4. Increase customer loyalty. Healthcare organizations need the loyalty of their patients, and patients who have access to modern, convenient patient engagement tools are more likely to remain loyal to their doctors. Increased patient and provider satisfaction with patient engagement services reflects positively on the EHR provider and makes their product more attractive in the industry.
  5. Interoperability capabilities. EHR vendors typically offer more than one product, and larger healthcare organizations often use different EHRs. Integrated patient engagement solutions can promote interoperability between EHRs by providing the same patient and provider experience across the enterprise, working with multiple EHR platforms simultaneously, and streamlining patient engagement workflows.

As the relationship between healthcare organizations and patients evolves, the tools they use to bridge the provider-patient communication link must evolve as well. EHR vendors who partner with a patient engagement company can meet the demands of today’s market while positioning themselves to quickly and cost-effectively bring tomorrow’s patient engagement solutions to market.

Photo: filo, Getty Images

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