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Patient Self-Scheduling 2.0 | The Health Care Blog

Patient Self-Scheduling 2.0 | The Health Care Blog | Healthcare and Technology news |

very important to get patients more engaged with their care…. thisAs the digital economy transforms health the most transformative ideas and consumer engagement solutions can sometimes challenge the industry’s ability to adopt and implement them. Reimbursement reforms, risk sharing, migration towards high deductible plans and the expansion of public and private coverage are converging to unleash an increasingly sophisticated consumer into the marketplace. Health systems and physician practices are consolidating and marketing their services direct to consumers in an attempt to underscore the critical differentiators valued by consumers – access, quality and affordability.  In today’s consumer economy, access remains a critical criterion for choosing and patronizing a provider or a practice. To assist the move toward consumerism, employers are introducing tools to facilitate comparison-shopping for services seen as “consumer-driven.”  The cost of elective and non-emergency services are highly variable and employers want employees to become consumers making decisions based not only on access but also cost.Providers that succeed in offering affordable access to care will gain a disproportionate amount of market share of the unaffiliated insured. It all starts with patient scheduling and facilitating a better consumer experience. Providers are under siege from a range of first generation solutions’ providers promoting their ability to transform analog business practices into digital delivery.  HIT requirements and the emphasis on electronic medical records have created technology companies who are offering suites of services to manage patient data and integrated care delivery. It’s been proven that 24/7 patient scheduling will reduce “no-show” rates, improve consumer satisfaction and ensure a higher volume of patients. The most important initial healthcare encounter – the appointment scheduling process remains surprisingly analog. While other consumer industries have moved quickly to facilitate online access, consumer-based medical practices remain stymied by fixed office scheduling hours with zero patient medical record interface and limited access outside office hours. The scheduling revolution initiated a few years ago with the birth of ZocDoc, Patient Engagement 1.0, established that self-scheduling can offer an advantage to providers and patients. Additional 2.0 firms such as openDr have built on and improved capabilities into the self-scheduling space – a function that is now crowded with models that can be leased or purchased. Accenture published two studies in 2013 (“Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement” and “Why First Impressions Matter”) in which they found that 77% of patients prioritized booking, changing and canceling appointments online as important. Accenture estimated that 1 billion healthcare appointments will be self-scheduled by 2019.  The study revealed that patients prioritize convenience and transparency.  They estimate that today patients spend an average of 8.1 minutes scheduling an appointment and 63% of the times their calls are transferred.  This represents an opportunity for some providers to overcome an industry compromise that has eroded patient satisfaction with access. Practice management professionals acknowledge that relying solely on schedulers to book all appointments is not only inefficient but a detriment to any organization because it inhibits growth and acquisition of new patients.  It’s clear that no organization can afford to remain “off-line.” Over time, it is inevitable that administrative FTE reductions will occur in practices as technology and self-service supplants old models of delivery. The impediments to provider adoption of self scheduling are surprisingly basic and range from concerns over patient privacy to internal struggles within provider practices as digital transformation threatens jobs and creates conflicts of interest over whether a system or provider group should buy, build or lease a self scheduling capability. Healthcare executives need to ask themselves not whether to offer patient engagement solutions but what’s the most efficient way to get online fast.  A few things to consider:

      • Should I build it? When it comes to technology, the question is always the same:  should a system or practice lease a solution that is premade and configurable, buy an existing solution and conform it for their business or build it from scratch to fit their enterprise?  While most healthcare executives acknowledge that reimbursement reforms and risk sharing will require substantial productivity gains and lower human and capital expenditure costs, many groups are still captive to the notion that building capabilities is preferred to leasing or purchasing applications.  Ironically, these practices obligate the system to continue expensive technology budgets and engage them in an arm’s race to keep pace with competitors who have leased or purchased the latest technology. The stress any organization will undergo to build, maintain and manage a solution needs to be considered.  Healthcare IT executives clearly have a bias to build.  It’s increasingly incumbent on hospital executives to challenge the notion that everything must be homegrown.
      • How can I avoid the 1.0 technology trough? – Patient Engagement 2.0 players are leading the innovation roadmap in healthcare and must be taken seriously given their level of sophistication and technological powerhouse.  Patient Engagement 1.0 players and EMRs have launched a process but may be shown over time to be less than fulfilling when it comes to critical technology elements, such as interoperability, time-to-market, customizing the solution to fit your enterprise.  In any cycle of technology adoption, there is a period of irrational exuberance, first mover adopters, disappointments, and a trough of disillusionment – always followed by new entrants, 2.0 solutions that correct for 1.0 limitations and an acceleration of adoption. 
      • Should I buy from my existing HIT provider? It’s natural for a system or provider practice to seek to extend a relationship with a vendor who provides existing services.  Many technology and HIT providers are seeking to upsell the tools they provide to clients but have extended beyond their core competencies. Established EMR companies are rarely the best equipped to tackle such level of innovation because just like the healthcare systems they serve, they too have many conflicting priorities and large customer bases to manage. Small and medium size healthcare systems and EMRs should look at leasing as the most agile and efficient way to get in the online patient engagement marketplace. Large healthcare systems and EMRs should consider buying each consumer module based on the functionality and its ability to interface with core systems.  Purchasing is a more effective means to keep pace with the best capabilities of consumer centric competitors. 

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CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices

CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices | Healthcare and Technology news |

The Centers for Disease Control is raising a red flag that a potentially deadly bacteria may be lurking in your doctor's office.

The bacteria, C. difficile, is typically found in hospitals, but a study out Wednesday reports a substantial number of people contracted the bug who hadn't been in a hospital, but had recently visited the doctor or dentist.

The bacteria can cause deadly diarrhea, according to the CDC, with infections on the rise. The new report shows nearly half a million Americans infected in various locations in one year, with 15,000 deaths directly attributed to C. diff.

In a 2013 study, researchers found C. diff present in six out of seven outpatient clinics tested in Ohio, including on patients' chairs and examining tables.

The CDC is so concerned that they're starting a new study to try to assess nationally whether people are getting C. diff in doctors' offices.

"This is really an important issue. We need to understand better how people are getting C. diff," said Dr. Cliff McDonald, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

In the meantime, patients should wash their hands after visiting the doctor's office -- with soap and water, because alcohol-based gels don't get rid of C.diff.

Another tip: Question your doctor whenever you're prescribed an antibiotic. Powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics wipe away good bacteria in your gut that fight off the bad bacteria, which leads the way to C. diff.

Johns Hopkins safety expert Dr. Peter Pronovost recommends asking your doctor if you really need an antibiotic, if there's a less powerful one that will treat your infection, and if you're being prescribed the antibiotic for the shortest time possible.

The CDC study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, said 150,000 people who had not been in the hospital came down with C. diff in 2011. Of those, 82% had visited a doctor's or dentist's office in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis.

The CDC is hoping its new study will help determine cause and effect, because it's possible the patients had C. diff to begin with and went to the doctor to get help. It's also possible that antibiotics prescribed during the doctor's visit, and not microbes at the doctor's office, caused the infection.

You Will Feel Better's curator insight, February 26, 2015 3:56 PM

This is why PureWorks foam is an absolute necessity!

4CalebWalker's curator insight, March 12, 2015 10:11 AM

CDC/ I did not realize that they investigated things that did not apply to a general population/ I agree with them taking their time to investigate and control the situation

Ashley Maddox's comment, March 12, 2015 3:00 PM
1 scoop plus 1comment =20!

Health checks by smartphone raise privacy fears

Health checks by smartphone raise privacy fears | Healthcare and Technology news |

Authorities and tech developers must stop sensitive health data entered into applications on mobile phones ending up in the wrong hands, experts warn.

As wireless telecom companies gathered in Barcelona this week at the Mobile World Congress, the sector's biggest trade fair, specialists in "e-health" said healthcare is fast shifting into the connected sphere.

"It's an inexorable tide that is causing worries because people are introducing their data into the system themselves, without necessarily reading all the terms and conditions," said Vincent Genet of consultancy Alcimed.

"In a few years, new technology will be able to monitor numerous essential physiological indicators by telephone and to send alerts to patients and the specialists who look after them."

More and more patients are using smartphone apps to monitor signs such as their blood sugar and pressure.

The European Commission estimates the market for mobile health services could exceed 17.5 billion euros (19 billion euros) from 2017.

The Chinese health ministry's deputy head of "digital health", Yan Jie Gao, said at the congress on Wednesday that the ministry planned to spend tens of billions of euros (dollars) by 2025 to equip 90,000 hospitals with the means for patients to contact them online securely.

Patients are entering health indicators and even using online health services for long-distance consultations with doctors whom they do not know.

"There is a steady increase in remote consultations with medical practitioners," particularly in the United States, said Kevin Curran, a computer scientist and senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

"Your doctor can be someone who's based in Mumbai. We have to be very careful about our data, because they're the ones who probably will end up storing your data and keeping a record of it."

- Cloud-based healthcare -

Other users are entering personal health data into applications on their smartphones.

This kind of "e-health" could save governments money and improve life expectancy, but authorities and companies are looking to strengthen security measures to protect patients' data before such services become even more widespread.

"I think tech companies are becoming more concerned with privacy and encryption now," said Curran.

"The problem quite often is that a lot of this data is stored not on the phone or the app but in the cloud," in virtual storage space provided by web companies, he added.

"We are at the mercy of who the app providers are and how well they secure the information, and they are at the mercy sometimes of the cloud providers."

Others fear that insurance companies will get hold of customers' health information and could make them pay more for coverage according to their illnesses.

Various sources alleged to AFP that health insurance companies have been buying data from supermarkets about what food customers were buying, drawn from the sales records of their loyalty cards, following media reports to that effect.

The kind of "e-health" indicator most sought after by patients is fitness-related rather than information on illnesses, however, said Vincent Bonneau of the research group Idate.

A study by Citrix Mobile, a specialist in wireless security, showed that more than three quarters of people using e-health applications were doing so for fitness reasons rather than for diagnosing illnesses.

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