Automation in Patient Engagement in Healthcare Services

By Vikram Vora, CEO, mydentist

Healthcare Services have been traditionally a laggard in understanding, accepting and adopting technology and an enabler for efficient and effective services. However, since the last 2 years the industry is going through a paradigm change, particularly in terms of how data and information is stored and accessed. The most focussed area in terms of healthcare automation has been in transiting from the old paper-based method of record storage and management to digital records and EMR. However, little or no innovation has been introduced in patient engagement.

Patient engagement is very important for healthcare service providers because patient to patient referrals are the most important source for new patient acquisition. But little has been done in areas of pre-admission, post operative and post discharge patient communication.

95 percent of the patient journey is outside the hospital, and hence there is a need for automation in patient communications that starts from pre-admission phase which integrates with the in-patient management system or the Hospital Management System and which in turn communicates with a post discharge platform for patient engagement to measure and analyse outcomes and patient satisfaction.

The following are some of the areas for automation and integration with mainstream Hospital Management Systems and IT.

Pre-Admission:

• Referral Acquisition and Management with GPs: Most hospitals rely heavily on patients referred by general practitioners. There is a need for connecting the patient chain across healthcare services. For example, can we link Nephrologists to Dialysis Centers over a cloud based platform which allows the nephrologist to access the inventory of appointments of the Dialysis Center and booking an appointment for their patients?

• Digital Marketing interface with SEO/SEM/Blogs/Social Media: A lot has been done in this space with the likes of Practo, Lybrate and Portea. However little has been done to connect this platform with inpatient care and hospitals.

• Online Bed Management & Inventory: There is a huge opportunity in aggregating hospital inventory and making it available online. For example, can we look at OYO rooms for hospitals?

• Call Center Automation: Even though most hospitals are having dedicated customer care centers, the effectiveness of these centers is very low because of lack of appropriate technology and real time connectivity with the HMS. A cloud telephony platform integrated with the HMS should solve this problem.

Post-Admission – In-Hospital Engagement

• Location based wristbands with HMS integration: With the accessibility of smart phones, it should be very simple to use the location mapping (GPS) feature of most smartphones to track patient movement with the hospital. Also, there is a lot of interest in developing wearables like wristbands which can be used to track patients, record and read patient data and send messages to the patients. These devices integrated with the HMS can create a very efficient quick response system.

• App based and SMS based communication with patient in the form of doctor visits, bills, advances, medications and other events: Most patients are dissatisfied by healthcare service providers and hospitals due to perceived lack of transparency. A simple mobile app integrated with the HMS should solve this problem where, the patient received diagnosis data, EMR reports, Doctor visit details, updated calendar on smart phone based on planned doctor visit during hospital stay, SMS alerts and APP alerts in case of billing and payments, medicine reminders and tracking etc.

Post Discharge

• Feedback mechanism over App or SMS with HMS integration: Patient feedback is a neglected area in healthcare services. Simple SMS prompts and alerts can be used to solicit patient feedback for process improvement and measuring patient satisfaction.

• Permanent EMR record access for patient post discharge: Managing health records is also a challenge for most patients since they need to store the same to be accessed in the future. Providing a permanent access to the patient post discharge to EMR data and patient records over the internet and mobile increase patient loyalty, increased patient to patient referrals, long term patient association and high brand recall for
the healthcare service provider.

• Reminder system for follow ups and tracking: Following up on discharged patients can be effectively done using simple Apps. This is important for patient satisfaction and also recording and tracking treatment prognosis.

• Outcome Measurement and Analysis: Clinical Outcome Measurement and Analysis is a very hot area in healthcare with a lot of technology companies working in this domain to measure treatment outcomes. This is can be enabled by tracking the patient behavior, comfort, recovery and prognosis post discharge and integrating the same with the HMS to analyze correlations with inpatient processes.

• Easy access for accessing and sharing billing and clinical information from HMS with other platforms and providers: There is a need for having a common platform across all healthcare providers where EMR data from HMS systems can be accessed thereby creating robust emergency systems for patient, quick response healthcare systems and tracking patient history whenever needed. HSE standards have become very mature but the HMS systems used by healthcare providers are very closed and are not able to share data readily across providers.

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