Why is Addressing Workflow Woes the Next Big Thing for Patient Engagement?

By Abhinav Shashank, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Innovaccer
Twitter: @abhinavshashank
Twitter: @innovaccer

Can we ensure the well-being of a sapling that was not watered for weeks after being planted? Consistency in care matters just as much for patients seeking to improve their wellness and to achieve healthier outcomes.

In today’s increasingly patient-centric world, post-episodic patient engagement has become crucial for care delivery. Not only is physician reimbursement getting linked to patient experience metrics but also care quality and utilization are impacting health networks’ drive towards value-based care. Together, the trend towards more patient engagement is impacting patients along each step of their care journey.

Roadblocks in Weaving Member Engagement into Care Delivery
Providers and health networks have the ubiquitous goal of making patients active participants in their care journey. However, major challenges in the process are holding back these efforts.

A major challenge for 63% of providers seeking to incorporate patient engagement into their strategy is the significant time investment of their health care teams in providing supervision and follow-up management.

With scattered patient data, care teams have to invest a lot of time in manually contacting each patient. Apart from being time-consuming, disintegrated data creates bad and unorganized workflows for the care-coordinators. These inefficient workflows lead to poor patient engagement and prevent providers from achieving high-quality patient care.

Why Workflow Challenges are Important for Healthcare?
Good outcomes require great processes. The workflows for nurses and care coordinators have been evolving in parallel to the introduction of new technologies and care methodologies. From distributing their time between patients and screens, care teams have been challenged to deliver better health outcomes.

The macro-view of a typical workflow highlights many underlying challenges that care teams face daily. The primary responsibilities are reviewing outpatient records, looking over patient tests to be administered throughout the day, coordinating schedules with doctors, checking emails, calling patients to confirm appointments, seeing patients, handling medical emergencies, and checking on procedures by reviewing charts and collecting data. The majority of the time in a typical workday is spent in front of a screen, leaving little time for genuine patient engagement.

Poor engagement impacts the lives of all patients in a health network. It can lead to poor health outcomes, low member retention, and even care team burnouts. Bad workflows do irreparable damage to healthcare delivery.

What is the Role of Workflows in Patient Engagement?
Patient-focused care team workflows drive better health outcomes and improved patient satisfaction. Imagine if we were to correct a typical process by empowering care coordinators with streamlined workflows that devote most of their time to the patients while engaging them effectively.

Eliminating the process of data gathering and scheduling for care teams will not just reduce the administrative burden for them but also facilitate greater patient participation. The only way to engage patients throughout their care journey is to efficiently manage the time of their care teams using automated workflows that schedule, prioritize, and engage.

An ideal workflow will keep the maximum time window for tasks that technology cannot help – i.e., genuine person to person patient care. Technology that assists care coordinators by eliminating administrative tasks creates time for tying together the broken pieces of patient-focused care delivery.

Challenges Bad Workflows Create

  1. Heavy Time Investment in Follow-Ups: Much of a care team member’s time is spent in front of computer screens, creating reminders or confirming events/appointments, creating lists of patients, and sending individual messages to patients.
  2. Poor Patient Engagement: Low patient engagement leads to a high rate of patient no-shows. Communication gaps with patients based in different geographies also lead to low patient adherence to appointments and medication.
  3. Care Teams Burnout: Administrative tasks such as calling and following-up with each patient daily is extremely time-consuming and inefficient. Long screen hours can exhaust care coordinators, leaving them with little energy to interact and connect with patients.
  4. Low Patient Satisfaction: Poorly engaged patients feel uninvolved in their care, leading to low retention and satisfaction. Patients do not feel empowered to make informed health decisions and end up paying higher care costs due to low medication adherence or missing preventative examinations.
  5. Poor Health Outcomes: Poorly designed workflows leading to low patient engagement are linked to poor health outcomes. As a result of low adherence, patients stop actively participating in their care. This consumes huge costs and inferior health outcomes.

How can Activating Data Solve this Problem?
The first step to engage patients is streamlining healthcare data aggregation and collection. With hundreds of patients under care, it is impossible for care teams and providers to analyze the data for each member. Patient data reveals the patient’s health story at various milestones and understanding this story can enable the right interventions that are key to better health outcomes.

For health networks, positive outcomes are driven by robust population health initiatives that weave in bundles of successful individual health results. Networks require a solution that understands their patients better and improves care at both individual and population levels. A data activation platform does exactly this.

It ingests thousands of EHRs at a time and runs analytics to detect care gaps for every patient. It documents the patient care journey and identifies care gaps to create both personalized as well as the aggregated view of the care delivery process for a network. Once all the data is aggregated and activated, a simplified and impactful patient engagement solution follows effortlessly.

  1. Streamlined Workflows: Care coordinators are empowered with workflows that tell them the daily patient flow and only ask for their input when needed. It automates end-to-end follow-ups and supervision schedules for all the patients in a network.
  2. Automated Follow-ups: The solution sends and schedules thousands of automated outreach campaigns. It also empowers patients with contextual information about their health and optimized clinical visits through messaging campaigns.
  3. Limited Screen Time: Care team members can spend limited time on their screens, as most of their non-direct care tasks are automated.
  4. Robust End-to-End Engagement: The solution looks after the patient’s health journey across the continuum of care. Data-driven and automated at each stage, it has triaging capabilities that engage patients in full accordance with their risk-scores.
  5. Closed Care Gaps: Care teams and patients are both provided with their to-do lists, medical history, lab reports, upcoming appointments, messages sent in the past, and many other relevant details to ensure there are no gaps in care.

Road Ahead
Providers have an increasing need to stay connected with their patients throughout the care continuum. While patient engagement is in a nascent stage for most networks, it is a key component that will drive the most value for them in the future.

Understanding the perspective of all stakeholders in engaging members will build a seamless physician-member collaboration, where members will know exactly what should be done for the successful management of their conditions. We will be able to look forward to a more active, responsible and value-driven care journey.

This article was originally published on Innovaccer and is republished here with permission.