– MEDITECH launches a web-based Quick Vaccination solution enabling healthcare organizations to efficiently administer the vaccine to their patients from multiple care venues, including through tablet devices.
– With Quick Vaccination, healthcare organizations have
the speed and mobility to distribute the vaccine at high-volume locations,
including pop-up inoculation sites.
healthcare organizations’ administration of the COVID-19
vaccine, MEDITECH is extending its
capabilities to include a complimentary, short-form Quick Vaccination solution.
This web-based solution streamlines vaccine administration, enabling healthcare
organizations to efficiently administer the vaccine to their patients from
multiple care venues, including through tablet devices.
Quick Vaccination Overview
Vaccination, healthcare organizations have the speed and mobility to distribute
the vaccine at high-volume locations, including pop-up inoculation sites. And,
since the solution leverages integration within the MEDITECH Immunization
Interface, it automatically transmits vital vaccine data to state immunization
Quick Vaccination is a stand-alone solution that can also be
added to any menu within the EHR. The solution allows for automatic defaults of
key vaccine and administration data using flexible parameters. This
significantly shortens the amount of time it takes to document vaccine
administration, so sites can vaccinate more patients in less time.
How It Works
Per CDC guidelines, Quick Vaccination automatically generates a
certificate of COVID-19 vaccination, which is also accessible from the
patient’s portal. The certificate includes administration details such as the
vaccine’s manufacturer, the date the patient received the vaccine, and the care
setting in which it was administered.
Patients will bring the certificate with them to their
appointment for the second dose to ensure the proper next dose is given. The
next certificate will show validation of receipt of both doses within the
appropriate time frame.
MEDITECH provides guidance and scenarios for vaccine administration
across all integrated care areas, and the EHR has the flexibility for sites to
easily add new vaccine codes. Additionally, MEDITECH’s Scheduling solution
enables customers to schedule vaccine administrations as part of an appointment
set, which means the first and second doses can be scheduled at the same time
with the appropriate eligibility interval between doses. Appointments are
integrated with the patient portal, so the patient is reminded of the second
Furthermore, patient registries can identify eligible patients
and vaccine distribution by phase ― such as residents of long-term-care
facilities or those with specific preexisting conditions. Eligible employees
can also be identified and registered as patients. In addition, registries keep
track of patients who have not received a full course of the vaccine, and may
also be used to alert staff of high-risk patients who may require follow-up
“Time is essential in fighting COVID-19, and we recognize that immunizing as many people as possible is imperative,” said MEDITECH Vice President of Client Services Leah Farina. “We developed the Quick Vaccination solution to streamline the process and enable care providers to efficiently administer the COVID-19 vaccine to their patients while meeting CDC guidelines.”
A recent Advisory Board briefing examined the annual Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Readmission penalties. Of the 3,080 hospitals CMS evaluated, 83% received a penalty for payments to be made in 2021, based on expected outcomes for a wide variety of treated conditions. While CMS indicated that some of these penalties might be waived or delayed due to the impacts of the Covid pandemic on hospital procedure volumes and revenue, they are indicative of a much larger issue.
For too long, patients discharged from the hospital have been handed a stack of papers to fill prescriptions, seek follow-up care, or take other steps in their journey from treatment to recovery. More recently, the patient is given access to an Electronic Health Record (EHR) portal to view their records, and a care coordinator may call in a few days to check-in. These are positive steps, but is it enough? Although some readmissions cannot be avoided due to unforeseen complications, many are due to missed follow-up visits, poor medication adherence, or inadequate post-discharge care.
Probably because communication with outside providers has never worked reliably, almost all hospitals have interpreted ‘care coordination’ to mean staffing a local team to help patients with a call center-style approach. Wouldn’t it be much better if the hospital could directly engage and enable the Primary Care Physician (PCP) to know the current issues and follow-up directly with their patient?
We believe there is still a real opportunity to hold the patient’s hand and do far more to guide them through to recovery while reducing the friction for the entire patient care team.
Strengthening Care Coordination for a Better Tomorrow
Coordinating and collaborating with primary care, outpatient clinics, mental health professionals, public health, or social services plays a crucial role in mitigating readmissions and other bumps along the road to recovery. Real care coordination requires three related communication capabilities:
1. Notification of the PCP or other physicians and caregivers when events such as ED visits or Hospitalization occur.
2. Easy, searchable, medical record sharing allows the PCP to learn important issues without wading through hundreds of administrative paperwork.
3. Secure Messaging allows both clinicians and office staff to ask the other providers questions, clarify issues, and simplify working together.
There are some significant hurdles to improve the flow of patient data, and industry efforts have long been underway to plug the gaps. EHR vendors, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), and a myriad of vendors and collaboratives have attempted to tackle these issues. In the past few decades, government compliance efforts have helped drive medical record sharing through the Direct Messaging protocol and CCDAs through Meaningful Use/Promoting Interoperability requirements for “electronic referral loops.” Kudos to the CMS for recognizing that notifications need to improve from hospitals to primary care—this is the key driver behind the latest CMS Final Rule (CMS-9115-F) mandating Admission, Discharge, and Transfer (ADT) Event Notifications. (By March 2021, CMS Conditions of Participation (CoPs) will require most hospitals to make a “reasonable effort” to send electronic event notifications to “all” Primary Care Providers (PCPs) or their practice.)
However, to date, the real world falls far short of these ideals: for a host of technical and implementation reasons, the majority of PCPs still don’t receive digital medical records sent by hospitals, and the required notifications are either far too simple, provide no context or relevant encounter data, rarely include patient demographic and contact information, and almost never include a method for bi-directional communications or messaging.
Delivering What the Recipient Needs
PCPs want what doctors call the “bullet” about their patient’s recent hospitalization. They don’t want pages of minutia, much of it repetitively cut and pasted. They don’t want to scan through dozens or hundreds of pages looking for the important things. They don’t want “CYA” legalistic nonsense. Not to mention, they learn very little from information focused on patient education.
An outside practitioner typically doesn’t have access to the hospital EHR, and when they do, it can be too cumbersome or time-consuming to chase down the important details of a recent visit. But for many patients—especially those with serious health issues—the doctor needs the bullet: key items such as the current medication list, what changed, and why.
Let’s look at an example of a patient with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), which is a condition assessed in the above-mentioned CMS Readmission penalties. For CHF, the “bullet” might include timely and relevant details such as:
– What triggered the decompensation? Was it a simple thing, such as a salty meal? Or missed medication?
– What was the cardiac Ejection Fraction?
– What were the last few BUN and Creatinine levels and the most recent weight?
– Was this left- or right-sided heart failure?
– What medications and doses were prescribed for the patient?
– Is she tending toward too dry or too wet?
– Has she been postural, dizzy, hypotensive?
Ideally, the PCP would receive a quick, readable page that includes the name of the treating physician at the hospital, as well as 3-4 sentences about key concerns and findings. Having the whole hospital record is not important for 90 percent of patients, but receiving the “bullet” and being able to quickly search or request the records for more details, would be ideal.
Similar issues hold true for administrative staff and care coordinators. No one should play “telephone tag” to get chart information, clarify which patients should be seen quickly, or find demographic information about a discharged patient so they can proactively contact them to schedule follow-up.
Building a Sustainable, Long-Term Solution
Having struggled mightily to build effective communications in the past is no excuse for the often simplistic and manual processes we consider care coordination today.
Let’s use innovative capabilities to get high-quality notifications and transitions of care to all PCPs, not continue with multi-step processes that yield empty, cryptic data. The clinician needs clinically dense, salient summaries of hospital care, with the ability to quickly get answers—as easy as a Google search—for the two or three most important questions, without waiting for a scheduled phone call with the hospitalist. X-Rays, Lab results, EKGs, and other tests should also be available for easy review, not just the report. After all, if the PCP needs to order a new chest x-ray or EKG how can they compare it with the last one if they don’t have access to it?
Clerical staff needs demographic information at their fingertips to “take the baton” and ensure quick and appropriate appointment scheduling. They need to be able to retrieve more information from the sender, ask questions, and never use a telephone. Additionally, both the doctor and the office staff should be able to fire off a short note and get an answer to anyone in the extended care team.
That is proper care coordination. And that is where we hope the industry is collectively headed in 2021.
About Peter Tippett MD, PhD: Founder and CEO, careMESH
Dr. Peter S. Tippett is a physician, scientist, business leader and technology entrepreneur with extensive risk management and health information technology expertise. One of his early startups created the first commercial antivirus product, Certus (which sold to Symantec and became Norton Antivirus). As a leader in the global information security industry (ICSA Labs, TruSecure, CyberTrust, Information Security Magazine), Tippett developed a range of foundational and widely accepted risk equations and models.
About Catherine Thomas: Co-Founder and VP, Customer Engagement, careMESH
Catherine Thomas is Co-Founder & VP of Customer Engagement for careMESH, and a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience in healthcare, telecommunications and the Federal Government sectors. As co-founder of careMESH, she brings 20+ years in Strategic Marketing and Planning; Communications & Change Management; Analyst & Media Relations; Channel Strategy & Development; and Staff & Project Leadership.
– Today, MEDITECH announced MEDITECH Cloud Platform—a
suite of solutions available to healthcare organizations of all sizes that
further extend the possibilities of the Expanse EHR.
– This offering includes: Expanse NOW, High Availability
SnapShot, and Virtual Care solutions, all created to work naturally in the
cloud, and available through a subscription model.
introduced MEDITECH Cloud Platform—a suite of solutions available to healthcare
organizations of all sizes that further extend the possibilities of the Expanse Electronic Health Record
(EHR). Multiple MEDITECH Cloud
Platform solutions are built on Google Cloud, enabling healthcare organizations
to further personalize their EHR in a way that is secure, reliable, and easy to
Subscription-Based Cloud Model
Healthcare organizations can select one or a combination of
the solutions from MEDITECH Cloud Platform. The flexibility of the subscription
model enables a quick setup as well as the ability to add solutions as needed.
Additionally, the cloud combined with the subscription model provides
opportunities to add solutions in the future.
Expanse NOW is a mobility app that empowers
physicians to manage everyday tasks and coordinate care on their smartphone
device. Integrated with Expanse, tasks and messages can flow between workload
and the app in real time.
High Availability SnapShot provides healthcare
organizations with immediate access to key patient data in the event of
unexpected or planned downtime. Patient information such as medications,
allergies, orders, and more is backed up securely and accessible via
Virtual Care gives new and existing patients access
to urgent virtual care on demand through the healthcare organization’s website,
as well as the ability to schedule virtual visit appointments. New patients who
request Virtual Care are automatically enrolled in the Patient Portal,
connecting them to the organization and in turn, enabling organizations to grow
Leveraging Google Cloud’s Capabilities
The Expanse NOW and High Availability SnapShot solutions
leverage Google Cloud’s core capabilities including compute and storage (as
well as their healthcare-specific data, analytics, security, and identity
management solutions) alongside existing on-prem solutions to provide high
availability and continuity of care in a secure and scalable service. They can
be easily accessible to critical care staff to improve healthcare continuity
across MEDITECH-powered healthcare organizations.
For more information about the MEDITECH Cloud platform,
– Cerner is striking a deal with patient communication
hub company WELL Health to change its patient communication technology for its
– Through Cerner’s HealtheLife, the new capabilities will
pull from a myriad of systems and apps to help improve communication and reduce
administrative time for clinicians and staff.
Cerner Corporation, a global health care technology company, today announced new capabilities designed to take the interaction between clinicians and patients beyond email to text message conversations, helping solve for a gap in communication in health care. The new features, in collaboration with WELL Health Inc. and to be integrated into Cerner’s patient portal, are designed to help improve patients’ engagement with clinicians through intelligent and automated communication.
New capabilities will unify and automate previously
disjointed communications, enhance patient engagement, and save clinicians time
Through Cerner’s HealtheLife, the new capabilities will
pull from a myriad of systems and apps to help improve communication and reduce
administrative time for clinicians and staff. Organizations can use the new
automation features to deliver critical health information, send flu shot
reminders, reschedule appointments, schedule virtual visits and prompt patients
to set up needed medical transportation. Additional benefits are expected to:
– Improve patient satisfaction, retention and acquisition
through timely communication and reduced hold queues, missed calls and email
– Save time spent scheduling and communicating with patients
by using automated workflows that reply and route based on patient responses.
– Reduce time spent on billing and payment collections by
auto-notifying patients when new bills are ready for payment.
“WELL Health is focused on what patients expect today – near real-time, personalized communication on their terms. We aim to move beyond the days of playing phone tag, leaving voicemails and expecting patients to continue showing up,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder, WELL Health. “WELL Health supports patients to text their health care provider like they would text a friend. For a provider’s staff, WELL Health is designed to unify and automate disjointed communications across the organization, helping to reduce unnecessary stress and limiting potential errors.”
Why It Matters
More than 5 billion people spend nearly
a quarter of their day on their mobile phones. In fact, in the last few years,
the number of active
cellphone subscriptions exceeded the number of people on Earth. Giving
patients the same person-centric digital experience in health care as they
receive from other industries has become increasingly important. Teaming with
WELL Health, Cerner will make technology more useable for health systems and
patients by meeting consumers where they are spending their time.
“Cerner is committed to making it easier for providers to create the engaging, comprehensive health care experiences that patients expect and deserve,” said David Bradshaw, senior vice president, consumer and employer solutions, Cerner. “By bringing patient data from different systems and streamlining in one unified view, we are strengthening our clients’ ability to build meaningful relationships with patients through a convenient, digital experience that has become a part of everyday life.”
Interoperability in healthcare is a national disgrace. After more than three decades of effort, billions of dollars in incentives and investments, State and Federal regulations, and tens of thousands of articles and studies on making all of this work — we are only slightly better off than we were in 2000.
Decades of failed promises and dozens of technical, organizational, behavioral, financial, regulatory, privacy, and business barriers have prevented significant progress and the costs are enormous. The Institute of Medicine and other groups put the national financial impact somewhere between tens and hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Without pervasive and interoperable secure communications, healthcare is missing the productivity gains that every other industry achieved during their internet, mobile, and cloud revolutions.
The Human Toll — On Both Patients and Clinicians
Too many families have a story to tell about the dismay or disaster wrought by missing or incomplete paper medical records, or frustration by the lack of communications between their healthcare providers. In an era where we carry around more computing power in our pockets than what sent Americans to the moon, it is mystifying that we can’t get our doctors digitally communicating.
I am one of the many doctors who are outraged that the promised benefits of Electronic Medical Records (EHRs) and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) don’t help me understand what the previous doctor did for our mutual patient. These costly systems still often require that I get the ‘bullet’ from another doctor the same way as my mentors did in the 1970s.
This digital friction also has a profoundly negative impact on medical research, clinical trials, analytics, AI, precision medicine, and the rest of health science. The scanned PDF of a fax of a patient’s EKG and a phone call may be enough for me to get the pre-op done, but faxes and phone calls can’t drive computers, predictive engines, multivariate analysis, public health surveillance programs, or real-time alerting needed to truly enable care.
Solving the Surround
Many companies and government initiatives have attempted to solve specific components of interoperability, but this has only led to a piecemeal approach that has thus far been overwhelmed by market forces. Healthcare interoperability needs an innovation strategy that I call “Solving the Surround.” It is one of the least understood and most potent strategies to succeed at disruptive innovation at scale in complex markets.
“Solving the Surround” is about understanding and addressing multiple market barriers in unison. To explain the concept, let’s consider the most recent disruption of the music industry — the success of Apple’s iPod.
The iPod itself did not win the market and drive industry disruption because it was from Apple or due to its great design. Other behemoths like Microsoft and Philips, with huge budgets and marketing machines, built powerful MP3 players without market impact. Apple succeeded because they also ‘solved the surround’ — they identified and addressed numerous other barriers to overcome mass adoption.
Among other contributions, they:
– Made software available for both the PC and Mac
– Delivered an easy (and legal) way for users to “rip” their old CD collection and use the possession of music on a fixed medium that proved legal “ownership”
– Built an online store with a massive library of music
– Allowed users to purchase individual tracks
– Created new artist packaging, distribution, licensing, and payment models
– Addressed legalities and multiple licensing issues
– Designed a way to synchronize and backup music across devices
In other words, Apple broke down most of these barriers all at once to enable the broad adoption of both their device and platform. By “Solving the Surround,” Apple was the one to successfully disrupt the music industry (and make way for their iPhone).
The Revolution that Missed Healthcare
Disruption doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The market needs to be “ready” to replace the old way of doing things or accept a much better model. In the iPod case, the market first required the internet, online payment systems, pervasive home computers, and much more. What Apple did to make the iPod successful wasn’t to build all of the things required for the market to be ready, but they identified and conquered the “surround problems” within their control to accelerate and disrupt the otherwise-ready market.
Together, the PC, internet, and mobile revolutions led to the most significant workforce productivity expansion since WWII. Productivity in nearly all industries soared. The biggest exception was in the healthcare sector, which did not participate in that productivity revolution or did not realize the same rapid improvements. The cost of healthcare continued its inexorable rise, while prices (in constant dollars) leveled off or declined in most other sectors. Healthcare mostly followed IT-centric, local, customized models.
Solving the Surround for Healthcare Interoperability
‘Solving the Surround’ in healthcare means tackling many convoluted and complex challenges.
Here are the nine things that we need to conquer:
1. Simplicity — All of the basics of every other successful technology disruptor are needed for Health communications and Interoperability. Nothing succeeds at a disruption unless it is perceived by the users to be simple, natural, intuitive, and comfortable; very few behavioral or process changes should be required for user adoption.
Simplicity must not be limited to the doctor, nurse, or clerical users. It must extend to the technical implementation of the disruptive system. Ideally, the new would seamlessly complement current systems without a heavy lift. By implication, this means that the disruptive system would embrace technologies, workflows, protocols, and practices that are already in place.
2. Ubiquity — For anything to work at scale, it must also be ubiquitous — meaning it works for all potential players across the US (or global) marketplace. Interoperability means communicating with ease with other systems. Healthcare’s next interoperability disruptor must work for all healthcare staff, organizations, and practices, regardless of their level of technological sophistication. It must tie together systems and vendors who naturally avoid collaboration today, or we are setting ourselves up for failure.
3. Privacy & Security — Healthcare demands best-in-class privacy and security. Compliance with government regulations or industry standards is not enough. Any new disruptive, interoperable communications system should address the needs of different use cases, markets, and users. It must dynamically provide the right user permissions and access and adapt as new needs arise. This rigor protects both patients from unnecessary or illegal sharing of their health records and healthcare organizations in meeting privacy requirements and complying with state and federal laws.
4. Directory — It’s impossible to imagine ubiquitous national communications without a directory. It is a crucial component for a new disruptive system to connect existing technologies and disparate people, organizations, workflows, and use cases. This directory should maintain current locations, personnel, process knowledge, workflows, technologies, keys, addresses, protocols, and individual and organizational preferences. It must be comprehensive at a national level and learn and improve with each communication and incorporate each new user’s preferences at both ends of any communication. Above all, it must be complete and reliable — nothing less than a sub-1% failure rate.
5. Delivery — Via the directory, we know to whom (or to what location) we want to send a notification, message, fetch request or record, but how will it get there? With literally hundreds of different EHR products in use and as many interoperability challenges, it is clear that a disruptive national solution must accommodate multiple technologies depending on sender and recipient capabilities. Until now, the only delivery “technology” that has ensured reliable delivery rates is the mighty fax machine.
With the potential of a large hospital at one end and a remote single-doctor practice at the other, it would be unreasonable to take a one size fits all approach. The system should also serve as a useful “middleman” to help different parties move to the model (in much the same way that ripping CDs or iTunes gave a helping hand to new MP3 owners). Such a delivery “middleman” should automatically adapt communications to each end of the communication’s technology capabilities, needs, and preferences..
6. Embracing Push — To be honest, I think we got complacent in healthcare about how we designed our technologies. Most interoperability attempts are “fetch” oriented, relying on someone pulling data from a big repository such as an EHR portal or an HIE. Then we set up triggers (such as ADTs) to tell someone to get it. These have not worked at scale in 30+ years of trying. Among other reasons, it has been common for even hospitals to be reluctant to participate fully, fearing a competitive disadvantage if they make data available for all of their patients.
My vision for a disruptive and innovative interoperability system reduces the current reliance on fetch. Why not enable reliable, proactive pushing of the right information in a timely fashion on a patient-by-patient basis? The ideal system would be driven by push, but include fetch when needed. Leverage the excellent deployment of the Direct Trust protocol already in place, supplement it with a directory and delivery service, add a new digital “middleman,” and complement it with an excellent fetch capability to fill in any gaps and enable bi-directional flows.
7. Patient Records and Messages — We need both data sharing and messaging in the same system, so we can embrace and effortlessly enable both clinical summaries and notes. There must be no practical limits on the size or types of files that can easily be shared. We need to help people solve problems together and drive everyday workflows. These are all variations of the same problem, and the disruptor needs to solve it all.
8. Compliance — The disruptor must also be compliant with a range of security, privacy, identity, interoperability, data type, API, and many other standards and work within several national data sharing frameworks. Compliance is often showcased through government and vendor certification programs. These programs are designed to ensure that users will be able to meet requirements under incentive programs such as those from CMS/ONC (e.g., Promoting Interoperability) or the forthcoming CMS “Final Rule” Condition of Participation (CoP/PEN), and others. We also must enable incentive programs based on the transition to value-based and quality-based care and other risk-based models.
9. On-Ramp — The iPod has become the mobile phone. We may use one device initially for phone or email, but soon come to love navigation, music, or collaboration tools. As we adopt more features, we see how it adds value we never envisioned before — perhaps because we never dreamed it was possible. The healthcare communications disruptor will deliver an “On-Ramp” that works at both a personal and organizational scale. Organizations need to start with a simple, driving use case, get early and definitive success, then use the same platform to expand to more and more use cases and values — and delight in each of them.
So here we are, decades past the PC revolution, with a combination of industry standards, regulations, clinician and consumer demand, and even tens of billions in EHR incentives. Still, we have neither a ‘killer app’ nor ubiquitous medical communications. As a result, we don’t have the efficiency nor ease-of-use benefits from our EHRs, nor do we have repeatable examples of improved quality or lower errors — and definitively, no evidence for lower costs.
I am confident that we don’t have a market readiness problem. We have more than ample electricity, distributed computing platforms, ubiquitous broadband communications, and consumer and clinician demand. We have robust security, legal, privacy, compliance, data format, interoperability, and related standards to move forward. So, I contend that our biggest innovation inhibitor is our collective misunderstanding about “Solving the Surround.”
Once we do that, we will unleash market disruption and transform healthcare for the next generation of patient care.
About Peter S. Tippett
Dr. Peter Tippett is a physician, scientist, business leader, and technology entrepreneur with extensive risk management and health information technology expertise. One of his early startups created the first commercial antivirus product, Certus (which sold to Symantec and became Norton Antivirus). As a leader in the global information security industry (ICSA Labs, TruSecure, CyberTrust, Information Security Magazine), Tippett developed a range of foundational and widely accepted risk equations and models.
He was a member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) under G.W. Bush, and served with both the Clinton Health Matters and NIH Precision Medicine initiatives. Throughout his career, Tippett has been recognized with numerous awards and recognitions — including E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Leadership in Health Care Award”, and was named one of the 25 most influential CTOs by InfoWorld.
Tippett is board certified in internal medicine and has decades of experience in the ER. As a scientist, he created the first synthetic immunoglobulin in the lab of Nobel Laureate Bruce Merrifield at Rockefeller University.
With the rise of healthcare consumerism, people are looking to hospitals, health systems, and physician practices to deliver the same user-friendly, digital experiences they receive from other industries. A recent survey found that more than 80% of consumers surveyed believe “shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services.” Specifically, they want streamlined access points online where they can shop for and purchase healthcare, easily make appointments, understand what they need to pay, make payments, and set up payment plans – or even obtain financing for care if the estimated costs exceed their budgets.
These types of digital experiences help providers recruit new patients and keep them engaged, which leads to better outcomes for both the health of the patient and the financial health of the practice. Unfortunately, most healthcare organizations aren’t ready to provide this level of convenience. In part, this is because they have relied on patient portals as their main digital engagement tool to date.
The problem with portals
There are a few reasons why patient portals underdeliver. First, portals are only for patients that have an existing relationship with a provider. However, the patient experience begins when consumers start shopping for care. Relying on a portal alone is a missed opportunity to generate new patient business.
Second, portals don’t mirror what consumers expect from digital solutions. The interfaces are clunky, the functionality is limited, and the technology only supports a pull strategy, meaning that it waits for the patient to come to it rather than periodically reaching out and prompting the individual to take action.
Third, a patient must be logged into a portal before they can do anything with it. This makes it harder to schedule appointments with new physicians because there is not an established connection. In these cases, the patient must pick up the phone, wait on hold, set up an account, possibly wade through insurance approval and pre-authorization, and then make the appointment.
Finally, portals aren’t ideal for communicating costs. While some allow the patient to pay co-pays, they aren’t designed to give realistic cost estimates, offer payment plans, suggest alternative funding sources, and so on.
Taken together, these challenges result in low, inconsistent portal use. Even if a hospital indicates that 50% of its patients access the portal, one-time or limited use should not be viewed as patient engagement. Instead, to realize true engagement, organizations should be thinking about ways to foster two-way conversations to keep new and existing patients focused on their health and how the hospital, health system, or physician practice can meet their needs. This improves patients’ experience and builds loyalty, while also reducing leakage and growing revenue.
What are the risks of poor digital engagement?
Without a well-considered plan for providing a retail-like shopping experience that includes transparent cost information, healthcare organizations run the risk of losing patients. This is especially important as the marketplace becomes more competitive and focused on patient experience, and retail clinics continue to pop-up around the country.
In addition to market changes, regulatory pressures are also making patient-centric financial communications a necessity. Several states are implementing price transparency regulations, and a federal requirement is right around the corner. To meet these standards, organizations will need effective tools that reliably determine and share prices with patients in advance of their appointments.
So where do organizations go from here?
It’s clear that patient portals are not the answer. But how can organizations do a better job of giving patients the convenience they seek? Here are four best practices to consider.
1. Evaluate your organization’s digital tools.
The first step is to take a hard look at the digital solutions you currently provide and compare them to those available from other industries, such as travel, retail, and financial services. Consumers want a digital, retail-like shopping experience where they can search local providers, compare reviews and costs, schedule their treatment, and even pay – all in one intuitive place.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that only younger people want these tools. Research shows that more and more older adults are embracing mobile activities like online banking. In fact, The Harris Poll found that 80% of Baby Boomers (individuals between 56-76 years old) “wish there was a single place to shop for and purchase care.”
Digital tools designed to improve access and transparency while making it easier to pay create more engaged consumers and provide a better patient experience. Achieving this dual dynamic requires digital tools are part of a comprehensive end-to-end solution.
2. Streamline access to shoppable services
These are elective procedures and screening tests that an individual can schedule in advance and include things like planned joint replacements, colonoscopies, and mammograms. Healthcare organizations offer standardized pricing for these services, allowing patients to shop around for the best price, location, and experience.
When patients are able to use a digital tool to research a service, set an appointment, and make a payment, it can drive patient satisfaction and increase the chances the individual will choose to have the procedure with the organization supplying the tool. With 67% of consumers stating they would “shop for healthcare entirely online, like any other products and services,” streamlining access to shoppable services will drive engagement and revenue.
3. Adopt tools that help people understand their care costs.
More than half of consumers surveyed for The Harris Poll said they have “avoided seeking care because they weren’t sure what the price would be.” The biggest hurdle to accessing care is price transparency, resulting in patients not getting the treatment they need and in poor revenue management for a practice.
Patients are more likely to pay their portion up front when they understand what they owe and feel confident that the cost information provided has taken into consideration their current insurance, deductibles, and co-pays. A key to accurate estimates is an automated solution that checks the patient’s insurance digitally, determines the benefits, reviews the amount of any deductible, and verifies whether the individual has already met their deductible. When a patient financial tool also offers the ability to make payments or set up a payment plan, it can increase patients’ propensity to pay, boost the amount of self-pay funds the organization collects, and substantially reduce the cost-to-collect.
4. Enable digital appointment scheduling
Consumers view scheduling and rescheduling appointments as a very difficult task. Digital solutions can address this pain point. Mobile tools and apps that patients can use to schedule appointments monitor wait times, digitally complete forms, and check-in for appointments are essential to breaking down some of the barriers to patient access.
Before onboarding a tool like this, organizations must think through the change management challenges in getting all stakeholders on board. Historically, physicians have been hesitant to open up their calendars to permit digital scheduling. However, transparency and standardization are becoming increasingly important to meet patient demand and are necessary to make these types of tools work smoothly.
Although digital tools are gaining popularity among all generations, there are still people who prefer to pick up the phone to price, schedule, and pay for care. In addition to digital solutions, organizations should have service-oriented call centers to work with these patients. Such centers should have well-trained professionals who are available during and outside of traditional business hours so patients can access the information they need when they need it.
Relying on the status quo is not wise
Healthcare is only going to become more consumer-driven as high-deductible health plans continue to disrupt the industry. Hospitals, health systems, and physician practices cannot afford to rely on outdated technologies that don’t facilitate two-way conversations or the digital experience patients expect. To compete today and in the future, organizations need a comprehensive, retail-like solution that offers a seamless user experience and spans the entire patient journey. Tools and technologies used in combination with putting the patient first will build loyalty while also improving an organization’s clinical and financial outcomes.
About Bill Krause
Bill Krause is the Vice President of Experience Solutions at Change Healthcare. Serving the healthcare industry for over 12 years, Bill leads innovation and solution development for patient experience management at Change Healthcare. In this role, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategies that enable healthcare organizations to realize value through leading-edge consumer engagement capabilities.
Previously, Bill provided insights and direction into new product and service strategies for McKesson and Change Healthcare. He also managed business development planning, partnerships, and corporate development across a variety of healthcare services and technology lines of business for those companies.
Prior to McKesson, Bill worked at McKinsey & Company as a strategy consultant, serving a variety of clients in healthcare and other industries. He received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.
– Cerner and Xealth announce a collaboration to foster
tighter physician-patient relationships by giving patients easier access to
digital health tools.
– These assets will be prescribed directly within the physician’s EHR workflow to manage conditions including chronic diseases, behavioral health, maternity care, and surgery preparation.
– Cerner and LRVHealth have together invested $6 million
in Xealth as part of this agreement, with Cerner and Xealth planning to jointly
develop digital health solutions that extend the value of the EHR.
– Already integrated into Epic, the integration puts
Xealth in the EHR of record for more than half of the U.S. hospital systems.
Xealth, a Seattle, WA-based company enabling digital
health at scale, and Cerner
Corporation, today announced a collaboration that will bring digital
health tools to clinicians and patients to improve the healthcare experience.
As part of this agreement, Cerner and Xealth plan to jointly develop digital health
solutions that extend the value of the electronic health record
(EHR). Already integrated into Epic, this integration puts Xealth in
the EHR of record for more than half of the U.S. hospital systems.
In addition, Cerner
and LRVHealth have together invested $6M in Xealth. Cerner joins Xealth
investors including Atrium Health, Cleveland Clinic, Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, MemorialCare Innovation Fund, Providence
Ventures and UPMC as well as McKesson, Novartis, Philips, and ResMed.
At its core, the
relationship between Xealth and Cerner aims to give patients their own digital
data so they can be more engaged in their treatment plans. The Xealth platform
is designed to help clinicians easily integrate, prescribe and monitor digital health
tools for patients from one location in the EHR. Care teams will be able to
order solutions directly from the EHR to manage conditions including chronic
diseases, behavioral health, maternity care and surgery preparation. Incorporating Xealth into Cerner’s technology and patient portal
provides easier access to personal health information and gives care teams the
ability to monitor patient engagement with the tools and analyze the effects of
increased engagement on their healthcare and recovery.
between Cerner and Xealth will provide care teams and patients convenience and
help improve care accessibility. Better communications and engagement with key
members of their care team will create an experience that is connected across
settings before, during and after a care encounter.
Why It Matters
During the recent
surge of COVID-19 across the world, tools that automate patient education,
deliver virtual care, support telehealth and offer remote patient monitoring
have become even more prominent, creating new methods to inform care decisions
and keep care teams and patients connected.
“Today, we have the unique opportunity to improve people’s lives by allowing active participation in their own treatment plans,” said David Bradshaw, Senior Vice President, Consumer and Employer Solutions, Cerner. “Patients want greater access to their health information and are motivated to help care teams find the most appropriate road to recovery. Xealth and Cerner are making it easier and more convenient for patients and clinicians to accelerate healthcare in a more consumer-centric experience.”
digital health platform with clinician recommendations has been shown to
increase patient engagement rates as compared to a direct to consumer approach.
The company powers more than 30 digital health solutions, connecting patients
with educational content, remote patient monitoring, virtual care platforms,
e-commerce product recommendations and other services needed to improve health
“In order for digital health to have lasting impact, it needs to show value and ease for both the care team and patient,” said Mike McSherry, CEO and Co-Founder of Xealth. “We strongly believe that technology should nurture deeper patient-provider relationships and facilitate information sharing across systems and the care settings. It is exciting work with Cerner to simplify meaningful digital health for its health partners.”
“Combining our expertise in developing interactive digital solutions that improve the patient experience with Cerner’s world-class platforms creates immense opportunity for our clients to better meet the needs of today’s highly connected healthcare consumer,” concluded McSherry.
Healthcare’s SmartPay integration with Epic MyChart helps facilitate patient
payments both pre- and post-service, and connectivity with Hyperspace® creates
a “one-stop shop” experience that lets providers’ staff stay within Epic to
process point-of-service payments.
– Change Healthcare’s SmartPay Payment Integration for
MyChart and encrypted device integration is available in the Epic App Orchard.
Healthcare announced the launch of its SmartPay
Payment Integration solution integrated with Epic
MyChart and encrypted device integration within Hyperspace. This latest
integration with Epic’s EHR
technology allows providers to offer their patients a wide range of payment
options––letting them easily pay their healthcare bills how and when they want,
with Change Healthcare providing phone and mail-in payment channels to give
providers a multi-channel payment solution.
Epic Integration Benefits for Providers and Patients
Using SmartPay Payment Integration, provider users won’t
have to leave their workflow in order to collect patient payments. Providers
also can take advantage of features including phone pay, consumer lockbox, patient
statements created with design thinking to boost patient engagement.
With SmartPay™ Payment Integration, patients can make
payments online from within the MyChart® clinical patient portal. Multiple
payment options are offered to accommodate patient needs and preferences,
including using debit, credit, HSA, and FSA cards, as well as setting up
Change Healthcare’s SmartPay Payment Integration for MyChart and encrypted device integration is available in the Epic App Orchard.
– BJC HealthCare has signed an agreement with patient payment platform
Patientco to offer a seamless patient financial experience, helping patients navigate their medical expenses and pay their bills.
– Patientco’s platform provides patients with a single
billing statement outlining their outstanding balance and will help BJC streamline its payment process by reducing the number
of bills associated with one visit as well as offering digital billing options
via email or text.
BJC HealthCare, a leading health system with 15
hospitals and multiple community health locations in the greater St. Louis,
southern Illinois and mid-Missouri regions has signed an agreement with Patientco to deploy its next-generation patient payment technology platform across
the enterprise. BJC sought an improved, more consistent financial experience
for patients and Patientco will provide BJC with a seamless suite of
patient-friendly billing communication and payment tools.
Billing & Payment Experience
enable BJC to provide patients a single billing statement
outlining their entire patient balance, streamlining the process and reducing
multiple bills associated with one visit. Patients can also opt to
receive digital billing communication via email or text instead of receiving a
mailed paper statement. Patients will then be able to pay their bills
using their preferred device, at any time of day or night, regardless of
business hours through an integrated patient payment portal. To address
affordability concerns for patients, BJC will also support
online, self-service enrollment in flexible payment options, like payment
Together, these features will help patients easily understand, manage, and pay their medical bills. Additionally, Patientco’s technology directly integrates with the health information system (HIS), which supports a better experience for both BJC patients and team members. The BJC revenue management department will also have access to other cloud-based features from Patientco, including:
Digital mailroom for automated check and correspondence
Interactive chat to answer patient inquiries
Staff payment processing integrated within the HIS
Multi-PM/HIS auto posting
Real-time payment reporting
User audit reporting
Historical performance reporting
“We understand that medical financial burdens can cause added stress for patients,” said Cole Elmer, BJC Vice President of Revenue Management. “Our goal is to provide an improved payment system that simplifies the billing experience and offers more convenience and additional options for patients.”