The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in numerous changes, from more employees working from home to consumers conducting an increasing amount of business online. In healthcare, it precipitated the consumerism trend, where patients expect their providers to offer the convenience and personalization offered by other industries. Our panel of healthcare IT leaders examines how best to identify industry partners with whom to collaborate for patient payment solutions, promoting patient engagement.
Leron Marinovsky, Executive Vice President for Abbadox
Shamit Patel, CEO of Alpha Nodus
Austin Deer, Director of Business Development for openDoctor
Chris Mason, Director of Partner Channel Engagement for ImagineSoftware
Defining Patient Engagement
As one of the healthcare industry's current most popular buzzwords, patient engagement gets a lot of attention but is applied to providers, payers and other organizations in different ways. For Alpha Nodus' Shamit Patel, whose company provides just-in-time care to its partners in diagnostic imaging with a mission to help them automate and accelerate their patient journey —from booking all the way to imaging — patient engagement refers to a patient's desire to actively participate in the delivery of care in order to either get or remain well.
"We focus on the key word Imagine Software in this phrase: patient. Healthcare providers striving for engagement must have the ability to spur patients to participate in their care to maximize their outcomes and improve their experiences. We must focus on how we can utilize technology and other tools to help patients actively participate in the delivery of care for the purpose of improving their outcome."
—Shamit Patel, CEO of Alpha Nodus
In his role as executive vice president for Abbadox, which offers a platform of health information systems that manages each aspect of the patient journey, Leron Marinovsky sees patient engagement as a broad term that everybody interprets in their own way. He describes it as a way to describe the avenues that enable patients to be empowered about their health information.
"Patients should be able to interact with their providers but also manage their own clinical needs at their own comfort, either at home, at work or even on vacation. It's important for them to have the ability to have some type of engagement with their clinical or imaging organizations to exchange and communicate better."
—Leron Marinovsky, Executive Vice President for Abbadox
The Keys to Success
As with any strategy, measuring success is essential — but not always simple. Reaping the benefits of a patient engagement strategy might look different for a health system than a medical billing company. As Patel notes, when patient engagement is done correctly, it has the ability to significantly drive profitability and volumes for both providers and patients. They key is for providers to find out what strategy works best for them and the market(s) and population (s) they serve.
"For some of our customers, the right patient engagement strategies increase their volume by seven percent, which results in an increase of $2.3 million in revenue at 70 percent margins. There's a lot to gain by picking up the right strategies and using the right tools, whether that's online scheduling, appointment reminders, confirmations or a system designed for workforce optimization."
—Shamit Patel, Alpha Nodus
For Marinovsky, one of the biggest advantages of employing technology tools to spur patient engagement is cost-effectiveness. Most modern communication techniques are cheaper and more efficient than traditional, paper-based processes.
"You do have an impact for the bottom line when it comes to increasing utilization and optimizing your abilities to help the patient get to your center in a better and much quicker and efficient way."
—Leron Marinovsky, Abbadox
Analytics aid some healthcare organizations in measuring patient engagement, including examining various web chats and hooks to identify how long it takes a patient to complete various stages of the engagement process. This insight might inform the provider that it's taking patients too long to complete online appointment scheduling or that some are dropping off at certain points within the process.
"We're able to provide these analytics and corresponding data to our clients to let them know how we can help drive the engagement of their patient population and improve the patient experience. It allows us to provide customized strategies to each client."
—Austin Deer, openDoctor
Healthcare organizations looking to implement or expand a patient engagement strategy must consider several things. They should identify and document their goal(s), research and pinpoint their target audience and decide what resources will be utilized to accomplish their strategy. Again, there's not a single one-size-fits-all patient engagement strategy or solution that works for every healthcare provider.
"Prioritize optimizing your operations. Focus on how implementing a patient engagement solution will impact your patients' journey while providing you with a good return on investment."
"Sometimes, the healthcare industry has tunnel vision. Find a vendor that thinks outside the box. Look for ones that want to grow with you and have a willingness to develop and support new ideas. The rigid software systems of the past are only going to create a roadblock for your future patient engagement strategies."
"The number one problem we hear from customers is that they have a shrinking margin. This doesn't have to be the norm, though. Embracing automation to optimize workflows achieves massive gains. Also, take chances – adopt technology that provides a solution to the problem. Take a leap of faith and collaborate with a company that can help you turn the ship around."
Check out our blog for more information about issues affecting the healthcare industry, including medical billing and revenue cycle management.