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February 27, 2017

Patient engagement front and centre at HIMSS 2017

IT traditionally centres around technology. After all, that’s what the T stands for. With that, we should place the C of communication between the I and T, making (ICT). However, HIMSS 2017 proved that slowly but surely, patients are taking centre stage. AI and machine learning shift to fifth gear and continue to grow, but a focus on patient engagement is becoming as important as an extensive technological skillset.

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The 2017 edition of HIMSS saw more than 40.000 visitors and 1200 exhibitors. It’s no exaggeration when it’s called ‘the biggest week in Health IT’. Therefore, it’s interesting to see what attending companies decide to focus on. In a way, they represent the world of healthcare in one hangar filled with innovation.

While purely technological innovation isn’t losing momentum, and is still as important as ever to further develop, an interesting shift is noticeable towards more patient based healthcare. Patient engagement and patient experience are no longer buzzwords, as the companies below show.

Patient engagement is critical

West Corporation, which provides communication and network infrastructure services, released a survey of 500 patients and 400 physicians at HIMSS 2017. The survey showed that 91% of patients say they need help managing their chronic disease. And while 75% want their providers to check in with them regularly, only 30% of patients report receiving regular check-ins to review progress. This shows that there is a lot of ground yet to cover when it comes to patient experience.

Patient portals rise in popularity

A survey by CDW, which offers healthcare resources, products and solutions, of 200 patients and 200 American physicians and physician assistants showed that 70% of patients say that they have become more engaged with their healthcare during the past two years. One of the top reported changes was joining a patient portal offered by a healthcare provider. 98% of patients say they can now access a patient portal, up from 60% in 2016. Patients are not only interested in accessing a patient portal to keep up-to-date on their condition, but also like to save time and be the ones in control of their medical data.

Patients at Cleveland Clinic review physicians

Other emerging consumerism innovations are technologies that make it easier for consumers to review their physicians. Adrienne Boissy, Chief Innovation Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, offered some insight into Cleveland Clinic’s handlings of patient engagement. She took the stage during MobiHealthNews Personal and Digital Connected Health event.

One success story Boissy shared was their new physician rating system. Most of the time, Boissy said, review sites are quite inaccurate and based on far too few reviews to be reliable. The clinic tackled this problem by launching their own physician review system. This system sources comments directly from patient feedback surveys and aggregates them, good and bad, into ratings. Nothing is published until there are at least 30 reviews of a physician.

Offering care at all times

The core focus of patient engagement should be providing healthcare throughout patient’s lives, not just in the hospital. This also means having a well-developed online presence. Apps, wearables and patient portals could help paint a better picture of a patient’s health, by offering data of those incidents that don’t take place in a hospital. This could reduce the time actually spend in a clinical setting, which is not only beneficial for the patient, but also for the physician. It improves their connection with patients, says the same CDW survey as cited above. On top of that, it provides them with more accurate data to base their diagnosis and treatment plans on.

Placing patients at the core of healthcare offers many positive insights and developments. Several surveys show that patients, however, are not yet satisfied with their caregivers engagement. The companies that truly want to cement their status should make patients a priority again. Combining IT innovation with a human touch creates real patient based healthcare.

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