March 23, 2017

Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a report to Congress with an indicting title: "HHS Should Assess the Effectiveness of Its Efforts to Enhance Patient Access to and Use of Electronic Health Information." In typical GAO fashion, no time was wasted getting to the point - while we in healthcare IT have provided patients a way to access their information, most patients are not actually accessing or getting that information.

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What went wrong? Didn’t we spend a lot of money ($35 billion since 2009) to buy new technology? Didn’t we pull providers away from patient care to train them on these new tools? Didn’t we invent imaginative ways to draw visitors to our patient portals?

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We certainly did. And it didn’t work because the technology didn’t offer much in the way of convenience and value – things people expect from technology.

Patients are frustrated that within one health system there may be multiple patient portals for various practices and specialties. Patients are frustrated by systems that have bad design. Patients want to access their data on the device of their choice, especially mobile. Patients want to be able to share their data from one provider with another provider.

At Influence Health, patient engagement is at the core of what we do because we believe the best way to engage patients to treat them like the consumers they are and meet their expectations for healthcare technology that have been set by industries outside of healthcare. We’ve been leading the industry with the Empower enterprise patient engagement platform capable of aggregating data from multiple EHR systems for years so that a consumer can have:
• One place to see her information.
• One place to track all her test results and spot a trend.
• One place to go to schedule an appointment.
• One place to visit to send her provider a question.
• One place – that works on her smartphone, her tablet, and her laptop.

We do this because we understand this is what the consumer wants.

Most patient portal usage coincides with an interaction with a provider, so from the beginning we’ve structured the technology to include these features. Providing valuable convenience features like these helps to improve the patient experience during those provider interactions and to maintain a positive experience in the time following the episode of care. Again and again, we’ve developed our technology based on more than just government mandates, like Meaningful Use. We evolve our technology based on consumer expectations for things like direct appointment scheduling, online bill pay, multi-lingual functionality, etc. The consumer is the ultimate user, so the consumer is the ultimate guidepost for our roadmap.

But, let’s be clear, no technology will ever single-handedly solve the patient engagement conundrum. Even if all the right, consumer-friendly technology is in place, if providers aren’t using it as well, aren’t communicating back and forth with patients through the technology, getting consumers on board will still be difficult. Patients want personalized notes, not just auto-populated lab results. Patients want detailed information on their conditions and visits so they can better keep up with and make decisions regarding their own care. Getting consumers to actually use patient engagement technologies requires BOTH comprehensive technology solutions and coordination of real, valuable provider usage.

Consumer-Centric Technology + Coordinated Provider Usage = Patient Engagement Success

The pace of technology is relentless, but paying attention to what the consumer finds valuable will always help to create solutions they will actually want to use. We’ve collected the experience of providing patient engagement platforms for years and have a veteran team and a stable, mature product to deliver. Don’t settle for merely providing “online access”. For real patient engagement, you have to provide value.

Interested in providing better consumer experiences and getting real patient engagement from your patient portal? Request a Sample RFP.