As value-based care and consumerism permeate healthcare, patient experience is having a growing impact on healthcare organizations’ bottom line. Patient satisfaction and quality of care ratings are directly influencing health plan reimbursement in a highly competitive market. Meanwhile, healthcare consumers are putting pressure on providers to reevaluate their approach to patient engagement.

With patients’ health and millions of reimbursement dollars at risk related to closing gaps in care, health plans and providers are looking for new ways to appeal to patients and motivate them to take specific actions. New technologies are helping to forge a path for payers and clinicians to work together to engage patients in more effective, meaningful ways. The challenge lies in how healthcare organizations can leverage analytics, digital engagement tools and other technologies to make healthcare more personalized, simple and convenient.

Here are four areas where healthcare technology is improving patient experience and making it easier for doctors and health plans to close care gaps.

Engagement
Although change in healthcare has traditionally moved at a slower pace compared to other industries, many health organizations are now taking cues from both their more progressive counterparts and some of the most well-known brands in the country (Google, Amazon and Apple) on ways to engage consumers.

Technology is a conduit to patient convenience and engagement. The goal is to find an effective way to communicate that encourages patients to take action to improve their health. Technology, when applied correctly, can remove barriers that stand between a patient and completion of a desired action. Technology enables communication in a convenient, efficient manner to which the patient is receptive.

Comprehensive, multimodal engagement strategies that link patients to health plans and providers beyond traditional care settings are on the rise. Simplified mobile and online access that centralizes important health data and is easy to navigate is being used to more effectively connect patients to the next steps in their care journey. Many tools include patient education resources, real-time visibility into personal health data and self-service tools to connect the patient to next steps in care. Best-in-class platforms promote patient activation while also keeping care team members informed.

Collaboration
Technology platforms at the intersection of patient, payer and provider are empowering health plans and their physician networks to work together to drive consumer action throughout the patient journey. Stakeholder collaboration on care and engagement strategies supports the value-based mission to do more with fewer visits in healthcare. Health IT solutions centralize patient data across the care continuum to help illuminate gaps and eliminate redundancies in care delivery.

Health plans are increasingly looking for ways to support providers who often have limited bandwidth to focus on preventive care. Research published by the American Journal of Public Health suggests it would take the average physician over seven hours a day, five days a week to deliver on all of the preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Providers often lack the time and resources required to effectively manage gap closure programs independently. Health plans are offering their providers tools that make it easy for them to screen large populations and close care gaps.

Payer and physician collaboration extends provider reach to unengaged patients and improves health plan quality ratings, which are directly tied to reimbursement. When outreach materials are co-branded, patients are more likely to take the desired health action.

Analytics
Continued adoption of advanced analytics is helping healthcare organizations discover more insights about their patients that inform more sophisticated consumer health profiles. This enables health plans and providers to segment populations to identify patient cohorts where greatest impact can be achieved, and design population health management and outreach programs according to how patients are most likely to respond.

Taking cues from the consumer products industry, propensity modeling is gaining traction in healthcare as engagement teams endeavor to understand patients’ likeliness to follow through with specific health activities. Market-wide recognition of the important role that social determinants of health play in the patient journey is leading to more robust analytics models. Data mining trends are moving beyond descriptive analytics to predictive and prescriptive analytics to support industry efforts to not only identify risk but optimize outreach strategies to drive better results.

Visualization tools are helping providers better monitor and understand patient trends over time.

Personalization
Many healthcare organizations are using consumer insights—including demographic and psychographic data, past care program data and claims history—to develop tailored communications designed to maximize patient participation. Words do matter. Personalized communications encourage patients to take the most appropriate next steps based on health results and consumer preference data. Using psychographic profiles, healthcare organizations are customizing outreach, including message content and channel, to appeal to each individual patient. This is particularly important when attempting to engage high-risk, hard-to-engage healthcare consumers.

Let’s say a patient has several preventive screening care gaps. The patient goes to the doctor as needed, but not that often. Scheduling a preventive screening at the doctor’s office is less convenient for that patient and follow-through could take months. The patient may prefer to visit a retail center, such as a CVS Minute Clinic, or lab center close to their house and on their way home from work, or complete a screening kit sent directly to their home.

Leveraging analytics, healthcare systems can offer options that are tailored to the patient’s needs, similar to the way Amazon recommends movies based on past viewing history. Instead of forcing the patient into the doctor’s office, the health system can offer alternatives that better meet the patient’s lifestyle and needs.

Without a doubt, the effective use of technology to create a simple, convenient and personalized patient experience will be paramount to finding success as consumerism and value-based care unfold. By aligning health offerings to consumer preferences and profiles, healthcare organizations are humanizing the healthcare experience in a way that promotes patient activation and ultimately improves patient outcomes and satisfaction with care providers.

Effective patient engagement increases compliance rates year over year, which can have a huge impact on patients’ health and overall costs. By refining patient engagement strategies, healthcare organizations can drive use of preventive services, reactivate hard-to-engage individuals and effectively close care gaps.

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