Patient engagement: 5 items to consider before you select a platform

As health systems increasingly seek out ways to improve the experience and inflect the outcomes of patients no matter where they are, patient engagement software platforms have flooded the market. Yes, the number of options can be overwhelming and, yes, if you haven’t identified a platform yet, now is the time to get started.

Data indicates that when health systems invest in patient engagement they can expect better patient adherence, improved patient experience scores, and fewer unexpected costs. Additionally, some patient engagement platforms offer the ability to collect a wide array of patient reported outcomes (PRO) data offering a simple way to maximize reimbursement under Alternative Payment Models (APMs) and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

My experience working with dozens of health systems to implement patient engagement software has led to invaluable lessons that I’ve summarized below. Before embarking on your journey to address, improve, or increase patient engagement, take a step back and consider what our partners have learned along the way. As you move through your process, our customers recommend circling back to these every few months to stay focused.

Start with “Why?”

Before journeying too far down the path of possible platforms, consider your ‘Why.’ What is your primary reason for implementing patient engagement software? Are you most interested in elevating patient experience and increasing your HCAHPS score or patient “likelihood to recommend” response rates? Or, perhaps your interest lies in completing improvement activities to maximize performance under MIPS. Once you’re crystal clear on your ‘Why,’ use it to shape the specific goals, objectives, and plans that will lead to success. Additionally, having a concrete ‘Why’ will allow you to communicate to stakeholders, team members, and clinical staff, gaining buy-in and alignment.

Alignment is key

You know your ‘Why’ and maybe you’ve begun to consider a plan for implementation. Now it’s time to gain alignment between care management, physicians, and operational leadership. If your key performance indicators (KPIs) are related to elevated patient experience and improved HCAHPS scores, who are the key players you need to bring to the table to agree on next steps and create a framework for implementation? If you’re looking to establish common ground, start by communicating a shared purpose, e.g. the patient. Discussions should focus on how a new platform can improve care management, elevate the patient experience, and automate care delivery, among other things.

In addition to alignment, it’s also ideal to have full commitment around strategy. What I mean here is that while piloting new programs can sound appealing to health systems, pilots often don’t serve the interests of your organization well. They encourage only half commitment, when you really need everyone aligned, engaged, and on board to achieve your goals.

In 2016, our client Froedtert Health went from contract signature to launch in 67 days. How did they do it? Well, the Director of the Joint Preservation and Replacement Program took ownership and managed the physicians and nurse navigators to gain alignment and consensus on the ideal patient experience and educational course. The IT project manager owned coordination of training and workflow discussions. Through a clear vision, sense of responsibility, and governance they achieved a go-live date in record time. Change can be enabled by your software partner, but it must be driven by your own leadership.

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