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4 Patient Engagement Strategies from the Nation's Most Wired Hospitals

doctor-handing-patient-paperAmong America’s “Most Wired” hospitals — a designation conferred annually for the last 16 years by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine — information technology is leading the way to enhanced operational performance.

Hospital administrators like Jim Boyer, CIO of Indiana’s Rush Memorial Hospital, are using data analytics to “target specific areas to reduce readmissions and improve quality across the board,” according to H&HN. The publication notes that 61 percent of Most Wired hospitals, like Rush Memorial, use predictive modeling to improve clinical decision-making, a significantly higher proportion than other healthcare providers.

Having made positive strides in operational improvements, these hospitals are now looking to leverage data analytics to help with population health management. Patient engagement strategies will play an important role in their success.

Steve Hess, CIO of University of Colorado Health, told H&HN, “While still early, we are starting to see patterns related to how our patients are interacting with our system and the reimbursement impact of those changes. It is important that our systems are set up to provide the complete patient picture and to ensure that the patient is getting the appropriate care in the appropriate setting at the right time.”

Connecting with Patients

While not conceived of as engagement strategies in themselves, Most Wired hospitals are employing four technology-oriented tools to involve patients in managing their own health.

  1. 82 percent allow patients to check test results via a portal
  2. 53 percent offer self-management tools for patients with chronic conditions via a portal
  3. 58 percent offer an mHealth app to access the patient portal
  4. 40 percent offer secure messaging

Ochsner Health System in New Orleans is one of the hospitals leading the charge. In addition to its disease registry tool to help providers engage specific health populations, the health system has developed the My Ochsner patient portal to put “Your Healthcare at Your Fingertips.”  

The portal provides secure on-line and mobile access to a portion of a patient’s medical record and the ability to:

  • Make medical appointments
  • View test results
  • Have prescriptions renewed
  • Exchange secure messages with your care providers
  • Link to relevant health information resources

The My Ochsner portal is just one part of a patient-centric approach.

Warner Thomas, the president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, told H&HN that “we realize that healthcare is becoming more retail-based and more transparent with patients who are more educated and will be armed with more information.”

He likens building relationships with patients to the way Amazon builds relationships with its customers. That’s the reasoning behind the O Bar, a resource for patients who want to use mobile apps to help manage health, but don’t know where to start. Oschner staff members curate a list of the best health apps and offer patients help in both choosing apps and installing them.

A word of caution: just because a hospital or health system offers a patient portal does not mean patients will use it. “If you build it, they will come” is not a sound strategy. c2b solutions has discussed this issue with several clients who lament that they have built an elegant patient portal, but they cannot seem to lure patients toward using it.

Patients need to understand the old radio station WIIFM — “What’s In It For Me” — before they will be enticed to explore a portal’s functionality. There will always be early adopter patients who use a portal (c2b solutions’ psychographic segmentation model can help predict this), but getting the masses to adopt a portal as a natural part of their care is a challenge.  Understanding patients’ motivations and positioning the portal as a relevant benefit is critical to success.

Making Sure Data is Relevant

Of course, not all data is good data. Lately, the prospect of integrating patient-shared data from wearable technology has raised concerns that the increase in data volume will actually hamper efforts to leverage data for meaningful use.

Steve Hess noted, “We need to find ways to collect all of that data, but eliminate the 'noise' to enable our clinicians and staff to efficiently and effectively make the right decisions.”

Likewise, hospitals must develop patient engagement strategies that are relevant to consumers to ensure that they are empowered — and motivated — to manage their own health. Just because you build an app, doesn’t mean your patients will use it. Hospitals need to understand what will drive usage among their desired patient segment.

Using c2b solutions psychographic segmentation model can help healthcare providers engage patients more effectively and activate their use of technology solutions that keep providers on the Most Wired list.

Ask us how c2b solutions can help.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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