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Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Improving Patient Experience – Not Just for Inpatient Settings

Medicare is basing hospital reimbursements on performance measures. Patient satisfaction determines 30% of the incentive payments, and improved clinical outcomes decide 70 percent (source). So, it is no surprise that the term “patient experience” is rolling off people’s tongues very matter-of-fact like. 

With the focus primarily on the hospital or inpatient setting, it’s easy to forget about the ambulatory or outpatient setting when it comes to patient experience.  However, as the country continues to shift its efforts to preventing medical problems rather than simply fixing them, the spotlight is moving to the outpatient setting.  Therefore, it is equally, if not more important for those  in the medical practices to take the necessary steps to assure their patients’ experiences are top notch in this new care delivery model. 

patient engagementPositive Outcomes and Opportunities

The benefits to improving patient experience are plentiful, regardless of the care setting.  However, the Language of Caring has done a great job highlighting and explaining specific areas within the outpatient setting where increasing quality patient experience can bring about positive contributions and opportunities.  Here are the exact details they provide:

  1. Improved outcomes and healthier patients – Improved quality patient experience in medical office settings brings about optimal health outcomes. Patients are less anxious in their visits and communications with the physician and care team. The physician and other staff are more successful eliciting needed information from patients and engaging them in decisions that affect their health. Because of greater trust, they are more likely to relax and cooperate during procedures, take their medicine, adhere to their care plans and follow-up with their care, improving care outcomes.
  2. Patient retention, loyalty, and growth - By providing consistently satisfying patient experiences, medical practices and other ambulatory care centers win patient loyalty and become a provider of choice. Patients spread the word, which brings in even more patients.  As people engage in provider-shopping, services that provide a quality patient experience attract new patients via positive word-of-mouth from their current patients. Also, provider scorecard initiatives are proliferating to assist purchasers in their buying decisions. Providing a quality patient experience is a powerful growth strategy. Read the rest of this post »

Happily Ever After: The Benefits of Patient Engagement – #HIMSS14

Once upon a time last year, in a town not too far from you, there was a big hospital where a bright, young physician was providing care to a sick, old patient.  Okay, let me save you some time.  This fairytale, unlike those you are used to, doesn’t end simply by having Prince Charming (the physician) swoop in and save the beautiful, damsel in distress (patient).  This fairytale has a bit of twist that changes the standard storyline.  This twist is referred to as Patient Engagement.

Changing of the Patient-Provider Fairytale

patientengagementThe concept of patient engagement has changed the way providers tell their patient stories.  It is no longer, once upon a time, a patient was sick, the physician cured him/her, the end.

The fairytale now reads more like this…

  1. Patient came in.
  2. Physician introduces him or her to supporting characters (care team).
  3. The patient and physician discuss the plot (disease state) with alternative endings (treatment options).
  4. They co-write the script (care plan), including ideas for props (patient education, care communities, etc.) that will enhance the story.
  5. The physician quickly publishes (uploads to portal) the manuscript and associated material for review and follow-up (provides email, direct scheduling option, mobile alerts, etc.).
  6. And instead of “the end”, it is more like, “to be continued…”

Patient engagement is not a new concept, just one that has been brought to the forefront as part of the healthcare industry’s increased efforts around coordinated care. Read the rest of this post »

A Love Letter to Meaningful Use – #HIMSS14

It seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to write love letters.  This is my letter of adoration to Meaningful Use.  In the past, I have written about how much time and productivity is wasted in the average physician’s office handling phone calls about prescription refills.  My physician’s office has successfully implemented their EMR software, and the patient portal is very, very handy for all of the right reasons.  I could wax poetic about the ease of checking on appointments and reviewing lab results.  The source of my real happiness is the ease of asking for refills and having the ability to route the request to the right pharmacy.  It was love at first click.

A Love Letter toInstead of calling the doctor, waiting on hold to talk to the nurse, fretting about getting the medication name and dosage right for the refill, it was magic.  I signed into the patient portal in a secure fashion, clicked on medication refills, and there was a correct list of my medications!  I selected the ones I needed refilled including a suggested number of days like 30 or 90, selected the pharmacy of my choice and Voila!  Several hours later, I received an email confirmation from the pharmacy that they were processing my order.  Now honestly, I didn’t have to see what went on behind the curtain in the doctor’s office to review my request, but I’m sure they like the elimination of potential communication errors on medications, too.

My doctor has shared with me about the financial burden of casting out his first EMR investment and starting over with a better EMR software.  I have to say that from my point of view, he clearly chose the right one and it actually fulfills the basic tenets of Meaningful Use, particularly from the patient’s point of view.  I plan to share my enthusiasm for the patient portal with him including the secure messaging that allowed me tell him that his changes in my medications worked and improved my quality of life.  This secure messaging was another plus for productivity, and patient satisfaction, because those positive responses got lost in the challenges of telephone communication in the past. Read the rest of this post »

Digital Experiences Critical to Healthcare Industry Success


The healthcare industry continues to undergo dramatic change due to regulatory reform including Meaningful Use Stage 2, which stipulates requirements and feedback on what a patient portal should be. As a result, we see a challenging dynamic between patients, providers and payers.

An exceptional digital experience is one way to help each stakeholder get through the regulatory transition.

portal

Our principal of portal and social solutions at Perficient, Mike Porter, says “The patient portal may be the most complicated portal one can build due to government regulations, physician requirements and patient needs.” Porter is presenting at IBM Connect 2014 this week. He says about IBM technologies, “Fortunately, the IBM toolset gives us the agility to get around the complications and create great experiences for customers.”

Perficient has developed best practices for implementing exceptional digital experiences for patient and member portals that include the core functions each healthcare organization must implement to succeed

  • compliance
  • integration
  • personalization
  • mobile access
  • physician location information

Read the rest of this post »

Apolitical Tech Lessons from the Healthcare.gov Meltdown

When Healthcare.gov launched, it drew an understandably high number of initial users.  Millions poured onto the site, but they weren’t able to sign up for insurance due to technical glitches.  As an impartial observer, it was interesting to watch media outlets struggle to find even one person that was able to sign up successfully.  The Washington Post even went as far as to illustrate this single newly minted healthcare insurance holder as a mythical unicorn.

Late Winter Snowstorm Hits Washington DC

Leave it to clashing political tensions to throw the topics of non-functional requirements, project management, and user experience into the limelight.  Oh, wait.  That’s not what everyone has been talking about since the wake of the Health Insurance Marketplace ribbon cutting…but they should.

There’s lots of finger pointing in the great game of Healthcare.gov Whodunit.  However, underneath all of the tensions that bely healthcare reform, there are some key takeaways from the Healthcare.gov case study for anyone looking to build a website as a platform for information dissemination and conversion.  Here they are:

Project Management

It was originally thought that there were only two players involved in the creation of Healthcare.gov.  In reality, there were more than I have fingers to count with.  A project this colossal requires some serious project management, and project management was clearly lacking here.  It has been reported that those in charge were aware of the flaws and were told the site was not ready for launch.  The Washington Post reported that “people were pulling out their hair” and complaining “loudly” about the problems the site was experiencing before being moved over to the live server.  Those in charge still insisted on rolling out the new site on the original timeline.

Read the rest of this post »

Congratulations to Marshfield Clinic on Web Development WebAward!

Congratulations to Perficient client Marshfield Clinic on their 2013 Healthcare Provider Standard of Excellence WebAward in Web Development.  The Web Marketing Association‘s annual WebAward competition has been setting the standard of excellence for website development since 1997. Independent expert judges from around the world review sites in 96 industries. The best are recognized with a WebAward. The WebAward Competition is the premier award recognition program for Web developers and marketers worldwide.

web award

Is Cloud Computing the Answer for Healthcare?

It is a much talked about fact that the healthcare industry lags behind other industries in IT adoption. With constantly changing regulations, security concerns, and the pressure to deliver better care at a lower cost, healthcare providers have not implemented the latest technologies to leverage their data. One solution to these issues is cloud computing.

Cloud computing in healthcare holds many advantages, including:

  • Computer closeup detailMobility: Data is stored in the cloud infrastructure, allowing provider staff to access it from anywhere, anytime. 
  • Decreased costs: There is a reduced capital expenditure on hardware and maintenance. Also, hospitals will only pay for the services they use, and challenges can be addressed remotely by IT personnel.
  • Better care: The cloud provides a central platform for EMR data, prescriptions, reports, and patient history. When all of this data is available, the risk for misdiagnosis or conflicting treatments is reduced.
  • Scalability: As the amount of data healthcare provider house grows, cloud server storage can easily be increased, unlike IT infrastructure.
  • Security: Cloud service providers are liable for HIPAA compliance, requiring them to encrypt and securely house data.
  • Speed: Working in the cloud allows for collaborating and sharing data in real time. Data is synchronized as it is processed or updated, allowing staff to work together without being in the same place.

Leveraging the cloud would allow providers to meet regulatory compliance standards at a lower cost than implementing traditional technology. Various forms of data are interoperable, allowing for analysis and reporting. While security concerns remain, cloud computing is becoming a viable answer for healthcare challenges. Read more about cloud capabilities in the article, “Perficient’s cloud prescription for healthcare companies.”

5 ways OBI + BPM + Member Portal = Success

What kind of equation is that?  I can understand Member Portal, but OBI? BPM?  Well, OBI stands for operational business intelligence.  OBI is real-time, dynamic use of analytics that enables a service component to decide, based upon the information available, how to proceed in engaging with a stakeholder.  BPM, or business process management, refers to the defining and execution of business workflows.  Bringing the two together in a member (could be a patient) portal is a formula to success.  All health plans today use a member portal to provide basic, on-demand services.  Typically these portals include the ability to review past claims, search for a provider, plan documents describing their benefit program, find industry medial reference databases, enroll for benefits, fill prescriptions, view FAQs about their benefits program and even view and manage funds deposited in high-deductible savings accounts.  But, as stated, access is on-demand.  The members need to be well educated on the benefits consumption process to help themselves.  In many cases, most just stumble through the process.  To make matters worse, most of them don’t interact with our benefits site beyond the annual election process or, most importantly, when we have a need.

The time is right, and the solutions are there, for health plans to enhance the member services by moving from a passive, on-demand model to an active, assertive one.  Doing so will increase member satisfaction, important for retention with the advent of Health Insurance Exchanges (HIXs) and consumerism in the benefits insurance marketplace, decrease the cost to serve, and increase the productivity of the health plan resources engaged in their services operations.  Leveraging OBI and BPM, delivered through a mobile-enabled platform, is the way of the future!

Read the rest of this post »

Are you sensing my stress?

Stress is a killer and each of us struggles with controlling stress in our own way.  Often stress relief comes in the form of equally destructive behaviors including over-eating, smoking, watching too much television, etc.  As a result, stress is a serious contributing factor to higher healthcare costs in the form of heart attacks, cancer and many chronic illnesses.  The challenge is that stress is hard to control and, worse yet, it can really snowball out of control.

Over the years, there have been many ideas to help people reduce stress: meditation, exercise, calming music, hobbies and, of course, beer drinking.  At Perficient, we like solutions that use gaming or gamification to reduce stress.  One interesting approach is a small device call the PIP biosensor. The PIP biosensor is a Kickstarter project that aims to help folks mediate stress by objectively measuring symptoms, digitally visualizing the results, and then gamifying stress reduction. It’s the latest in an avalanche of sensors aiming to increase body awareness and health.  Read the rest of this post »

Shared Decision Making – From Doctor is King to Patient is Key

The words, “because I said so” were like nails on a chalkboard for many children.  I was lucky enough to rarely hear those words.  I was blessed with parents that took the time to explain why they were taking the decision they were and as I got older willing to discuss decisions further, allowing me to make my case for important things like why I needed a hundred dollar pair of jeans (I never got them!).  This is probably why my skin crawls today when my doctor tries to mandate a course of action to me rather than take the time to explain his reasoning or discuss alternative options. The decision is made for me, not with me.  Who died and made him king, especially when it comes to my health?

According to a recent research study in the US, 70% of patients preferred making medical decisions with their doctors.  Interestingly, of those, only one in seven would disagree with their doctor over treatment, some saying it would not be socially acceptable or would damage their relationship with the doctor1.  What is that about?  If the US healthcare system is ever going to increase quality of care while reducing costs, the mentality needs to shift from doctor is the all mighty king to patient is key.

What is Shared Decision Making?

blogPatient-centered care is one effort to rectify this power imbalance between physician and patient.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.2

A key component of providing patient-centered care is shared decision making (SDM).  SDM is a collaborative process where patients are provided with evidence-based information on treatment choices and are encouraged to use this information to have an informed dialogue with their physicians to help them make the healthcare decisions that best align with their values, preferences and lifestyle3.  “SDM honors both the provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be fully informed of all care options and the potential harms and benefits. This process provides patients with the support they need to make the best individualized care decisions, while allowing providers to feel confident in the care they prescribe.4

Read the rest of this post »

Does Patient Experience Affect Patient Engagement?

My colleague, Terie McClintock, recently posted a blog about the relationship between the patient experience and the level of patient engagement on our Oracle blog. A correlation between the two concepts is often assumed, but does one actually influence the other? Terie did some research into the effect that patients being engaged in their care had on the outcome of their experience.

After completing a little research I found that 62% of patients who were given access to their provider notes took their medication as prescribed and “felt more in control of their care” at one very large provider organization.  Does “feeling more in control of my care” equate to a positive patient experience?  I have written before about this topic!  I am happy when I can see the data but this is healthcare, so we need data to support this conclusion.

Engaging patients through information sharing does help improve patient experience and may also reduce costs. According to a study about hip and knee replacements, those providers who shared data such as the incidence of those that surgery did not help, the incidence of those who had the surgery and had worse pain, information about alternatives such as physical therapy, and more, there was a 38% fewer hip replacements and 26% less knee surgeries in the same population. These examples truly reinforce that Healthcare organizations must utilize consumer-centric technology solutions to deliver quality care and content.

Terie found that when information was shared with patients, there were fewer surgeries conducted. But does that mean that while they were engaged they had a better experience? Patients may have declined care due to the information they were provided, but these statistics don’t show impact on quality of life or happiness level. Have you seen a correlation between engagement levels and experience? Do you see a correlation?

To read Terie’s full post, click here.

Social Digestion: Social Media and the Thinking Organization

Sometimes social media is too popular for its own good.  The fun and frivolity of finding Mini Oreo Peppermint Cheesecakes on Pinterest (that exists) or figuring out what the Official Grumpy Cat is up to on Facebook (he exists too) often get in the way of conversations regarding the real collaboration problems faced by the healthcare enterprise.  Whenever social media enters the conversation as a potential solution to the healthcare collaboration problem, it is often brushed off as that “cute thing they tweet about.”

enterprise-social-media-innovation-knowledge-sharing

But, what is social, really?  Social is a way for communities of people to digest large volumes of information quickly.  We live in an
information rich world, and data overload is this digital world’s greatest side effect.  Way back in 2008, a technology research firm called IDC tried to account for all of the 0s and 1s that make up the current store of digital data.  They found that in 2007, the world had amassed 161 billion gigabytes of digital data.  If each byte of data is one character in a book, then 12 stacks of books could have been piled up from the Earth to the Sun with the digital data collected at that time.  But that data growth keeps expanding exponentially.  By 2010, those 12 stacks reached from the Sun to Pluto and back to the Sun.  From now until 2020, the digital universe will double every two years.

Yes, this information comes in many varieties.  Some people (read: me) really want to know what Grumpy Cat is up to.  However, we see these masses of big data in the healthcare enterprise daily.  Clinicians need to wade through the mountains of medical research that impact care decisions daily.  Researchers need to find and figure out the facts and figures that impact public health.  Within the organization, employees need to find the information they know exists among the applications, content, and knowledge workers grouped in different, often hidden, locations across the organization.

Many people believe that social media is the instigator of this data overload.  I am of the belief that, instead, social media was our collective response to this overload of data.  The amount of data available is so vast and so complex that we can only digest it as communities of people interested in similar topics.  Instead of being that “cute thing”, social media becomes mission critical to the healthcare organization living in fast moving times.  A healthcare enterprise enabled by social would have:

  • Departmental sites that are transformed into dynamic community hubs with quick ways to call, interact, and filter information
  • Care coordination across multiple settings with activity feeds that can track care processes across the care continuum
  • New mediums for knowledge dissemination, which becomes particularly important during a disaster

These are just a few examples, and there are plenty more.  What are some of your favorite examples of the healthcare enterprise enabled with social?