The health care industry's transition to patient-centered care is driving the increased adoption of consumer-centric patient engagement and practice operations technologies such as telehealth, patient portals and digital scheduling systems. Andrew Hajde of the Medical Group Management Association said this shift makes sense because some of the major patient satisfaction pain points are linked to operations, and these technologies help improve overall patient experience.
Brian Patty comments on technology in patient-centered care
Brian Patty, vice president and CMIO, Rush University Medical Center
Patient-centered care is focused on health, partnership, transparency and respect and is at the center of any successful value-based care approach. It is the delivery of the right care, at the right time and in the setting that is best for the patient, not the health care system. It is understanding and focusing on the needs and desires of the patient and their family, not just the treatment of disease. It focuses on emotional as well as physical well-being.
To achieve this, we need new tools and approaches to care. Access means more than just the next available appointment; it means offering an entire spectrum of care options, from eVisits to chat lines to on-demand and scheduled tele-visits to online scheduling of in-person visits. Patient portals expand to offering symptom-checkers, immediate access to notes and labs, online payment options, connectivity to patient wearables and apps, connectivity to chatbots, wayfinding both to and within care facilities, care coordination tools and connectivity to all of the places people receive care. And most of all, portals must be available not only on their desktops but as apps on their phones.
Different patients will have different needs and desired ways of connecting with our organizations. Even the same patient may want a low-touch eVisit for something routine and comfortable while desiring a high-touch, in-person consultation for something new and frightening. We must all look at our systems from our patients' perspectives in order to offer the full spectrum of services that meet their varying needs.
Chief information officers who are considering moving their systems to the cloud need to understand patients' and clinicians' behaviors and profile their usage to gain financial benefits and prepare their teams to remotely manage infrastructure, says Rachel Dunscombe, CEO of NHS Digital Academy and global lead for KLAS' Arch Collaborative. Dunscombe said CIOs must also perform due diligence to evaluate their organizations' suitability for cloud technology.
Experts say ransomware, cryptojacking, device hacking, data theft, phishing and insider breaches will remain the primary cyberthreats in health care next year, and health care organizations should patch and update critical systems regularly, train employees and avoid common mistakes like using out-of-office autoreplies. Cybersecurity should be a priority at the board and executive levels, and organizations that cannot afford to hire experts full-time should form partnerships, says Fairwarning CEO Kurt Long.
The Patient Engagement Advisory Committee to the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health met recently to discuss difficulties and challenges in communicating cybersecurity safety risks and threats when the likelihood of a successful exploit is difficult to quantify. Some committee members suggested disclosing all known risks to patients, but others said disclosure should depend on the type of device.
Misidentification of patients causes medical mistakes that can be deadly, and the Senate has an opportunity to protect patients by approving House legislation to revoke language essentially banning the establishment of a nationwide unique patient identifier system, write AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris and Intermountain Healthcare Chief Information Officer Marc Probst. If unique identifiers are used in Medicare, the Military Health System and the Veterans Affairs medical system, they ask, why can they not be used in the rest of the nation's health system?
The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a $200,000 grant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to equip three patient rooms with telehealth technology at both Bibb Medical Center and the North Alabama Medical Center. UAB will also use some of the funds to train ultrasound technologists, who will expand high-risk patients' access to UAB's Maternal-Fetal Medicine team.