This blog was first published March 8, 2018 on the Avaya blog.
As healthcare plans increase in complexity in addition to a growing number of chronic health conditions (healthcare organizations are expected to spend close to $6 billion on the treatment and prevention of chronic illness), it is critical that communications remain at the heart of patient interaction. For example, it is important to ensure patients follow their care plans, and are aware of wellness plans, to ensure efficient healthcare spend that drives optimal health outcomes. Providers can improve patient access to services as well by ensuring they manage referrals, appointments, and appointment readiness in a two-way dialog with patients.
With value-based payment models, healthcare organizations have a financial incentive to deliver value-based care throughout the entire patient journey. Proactive patient engagement, as part of an advanced omni-channel solution, supports this value-based delivery model in several ways.
Proactive Patient Engagement Across the Care Continuum
Referrals: Every 1 in 8 patients—approximately 30 million U.S. adults—does not use a referral and may not receive adequate care. Proactive patient engagement helps ensure patients follow their care plan by booking appointments with referred physicians, continuing their care journey and receiving the best possible treatment. Having the right information at the right time, supported by actionable data and real-time insights, enables providers to reach out to patients when it matters most. This form of proactive engagement also helps minimize patient leakage, which research shows can cost hospitals up to $971K per physician per year.
Appointment Reminders: Proactive appointment reminders are crucial for minimizing unfilled appointments and patient no-shows (missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion a year). These notifications should extend across multiple channels and devices to deliver a personalized experience, as well as allow patients to effortlessly continue their care journey by escalating to real-time scheduling (nearly half of patients want simpler appointment scheduling, particularly online scheduling). Scheduling should similarly be multimedia in nature, allowing patients to book over the device and channel that is most relevant to them.
Procedure Follow-up and Between-visit Support: Proactive communication between patients and providers is a critical element in overall care management, particularly for chronic illnesses. This form of proactive patient engagement can also be used to avoid medication nonadherence. For example, research shows only 50% of patients report taking medications for cardiovascular disease as prescribed. This helps patients self-manage their health with proactive reminders to deliver the best possible outcome, while optimizing the use of internal resources that support the healthcare system.
Targeted Wellness Campaigns: Patients want a more personalized experience that providers can effectively deliver by integrating proactive communications into campaign materials. This can include, for example, announcements that promote overall health (65% of patients are interested in receiving reminders for procedures such as annual flu shots, vaccinations, and recommended tests for screenings associated with chronic disease). These forms of proactive patient engagement also help providers effectively communicate care plans, increasing the value of existing technology investments, e.g., EHRs.
What Makes for Effective Proactive Patient Engagement?
An advanced omni-channel solution, built on open communications infrastructure, enables healthcare organizations to improve quality and consistency of care, improve population health management, reduce human error, and improve care coordination with proactive patient engagement. This solution should:
- Flexibly integrate disparate systems
- Seamlessly share information across the entire health organization
- Proactively reach out to a desired audience with multimedia, bidirectional interactions
- Flexibly build custom services with visual, drag-and-drop workflows
- Be close-looped (providers should be feeding information and getting that information back to continue health plans and patient care)
- Automatically or manually trigger notifications depending on provider practice needs
With a flexible, scalable patient access solution, healthcare organizations can prioritize quality of care by having a holistic, patient-centric approach to care coordination.