Patient Engagement

How can health systems enhance patient engagement post-COVID with a FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform?

Kanav Hasija
Mon 10 August 2020

”Patient engagement denotes a broader concept that includes activation; the interventions designed to increase activation; and patients’ resulting behavior, such as obtaining preventive care or engaging in regular physical exercise.”

- Judith H. Hibbard

Consumer engagement always plays an important role when delivering any kind of service. Likewise, patient engagement is a significant focal point in the delivery of value-based healthcare; this much has always been clear.

In a little over six months, however, life, as we know it, has been turned upside down. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, many things have changed, including patient-empowering tools in healthcare. People are working from home; travel has been restricted; schools and public events have been halted. With over 143,000 deaths in the United States and the continued demand for testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), the fear of contracting Covid-19 is understandable. Amid these events, healthcare has seen a multitude of changes. The industry is quickly being transformed by mixing physical visits and virtual visits.

As public appetite for healthcare options that offer a safe and convenient method of seeking care has increased, telehealth has been the obvious and most expeditious vehicle. As a result of the fear of seeking care in ERs and even clinics, a steep decline of health across the population has been emerging. From annual wellness visits and immunizations to elective surgeries, aspects of healthcare have been postponed or ignored. Yet the result of their avoidance clearly demonstrates that physician visits cannot be completely ignored.

Returning to in-person visits and clinics in the new normal is challenging

As public health experts determine that it is safe to see patients and stay-at-home restrictions are relaxed, physician practices should strategically plan when and how best to reopen safely to inspire public confidence in visiting the clinic.

Organizations should consider a step-by-step approach to reopening so that the practice may quickly identify and address any practical challenges that arise. Initially, services that can resume may include:

  • Auxiliary services, such as basic diagnostic imaging and laboratory
  • Essential inpatient therapies; elective surgeries and procedures
  • Recommended prevention for communicable diseases, particularly vaccinations; routine preventive care and screenings
  •  Management of emergency health conditions and common acute presentations that require time-sensitive interventions

Care of vulnerable populations, such as infants and older adults, can easily be done through telemedicine or virtual clinic visits. But to reduce the influx of patients, virtual triaging is necessary. It can help identify patients that require in-person visits and differentiate them from those that can be seen virtually.

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Innovaccer’s FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform provides concrete intelligence based on quality measures and powerful analytics to make impactful decisions that improve care.

Technology can reassure patients to visit physician practices again

The most important elements of helping patients to feel safe returning to clinics include improving the conditions in facilities with less crowded waiting rooms, reduced wait times, and minimum physical contact. Enabling self-service for 24-hour location-independent access can be accomplished with mobile chatbots to complete the paperwork and check-in processes remotely, by assisting with sign-in, details sharing, assessments, and appointment scheduling on the go. And there is no one in the waiting room. Safe, individualized care delivery is augmented by leveraging deep patient-level data personalization to send out documents, educational materials, and multimedia (videos, audio).

Instituting safety measures for patients

  • Ensure that patients do not come into close contact, utilize a modified schedule with virtual check-in to create spacing and avoid high volumes or density.
  • Designate separate waiting areas such as parking lots where patients can safely remain in their cars until seen.
  • Consider a flexible schedule and perhaps a longer span of the day with more time in-between visits to avoid backups. 
  • Minimize contact as much as possible. This includes replacing traditional screening processes with Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology.
  • Rearrange open work areas to increase the distance between staff. Also, consider having dedicated workstations and patient rooms to minimize the number of people touching and using the same equipment.
  • Provide information on the safety measures adopted and instructions for patients and staff on how to access and use PPE supplies, masks, and sanitization stations.
  • Create clear co-visitor guidelines that limit patient companions to individuals whose participation in the appointment is necessary based on the patient’s age and situation.
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Innovaccer’s FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform can leverage smart automation for care management and enhance population health outcomes with data and analytics.

Effective communications and telehealth can fill the void

  • Implement strategies to improve patient engagement with multichannel outreach.
  • Use simple text messages to digitize screening questionnaires, send patient reminders, and deliver automated surveys.
  • Utilize tele-triaging to segregate patients to virtual visits or clinic visits.
  • Create customized questionnaires for self-tests and screenings for patients who are unable to visit(e.g., the FIT test for colon cancer screening).
  • Utilize EHRs to identify high-risk patients and digitize screening, monitoring, and interventions.

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Make care accessible to patients at all times and set or track goals to measure engagement throughout Innovaccer’s FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform.

The road ahead: putting patient engagement into action

Hospitals, clinics, and healthcare systems with a patient-centered approach to care need an effective strategy to communicate and truly engage with their patients. They have begun to leverage healthcare data platforms that support secure and real-time virtual visits to reach more patients, triage them quickly, and improve care coordination. Additionally, the data activation platform can optimize workflows and reduce the administrative burden on already overworked providers.

These are, without a doubt, challenging times for us. Healthcare delivery is far from perfect at this early juncture. But by digitizing and simplifying the process of care delivery using thoughtful technology, we can empower our providers to engage better with their patients and care as one for a safer and healthier population. 

To learn more about the FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform and how it can improve care delivery click here.

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