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10/8/2012
11:54 AM
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7 E-Health Tools To Get Patients Engaged

Final Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules, now in effect, make patient engagement more important than ever. Here are some e-tools that you can use to draw in patients.




With the introduction of Meaningful Use Stage 2, patient engagement has gone from nice-to-have to necessary, and that transition requires hospital systems and physician practices across the country to look to tools to aid in the process.

For example, specific regulations focusing on greater levels of patient engagement include the use of secure messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information--something vendors like WellFX are attempting to do. Similarly PatientPoint, a provider of physician and patient engagement platforms at the point of care, aids in the rule requiring patients to view online and download their health information.

"We're trying to get our consumers and patients to take more responsibility for their healthcare and, to do that, we need to engage those patients and consumers and find ways to make having to do more an enjoyable process [for patients]," said Christina Thielst, VP at patient experience consulting group Tower Strategies, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

The social component of patient engagement is necessary to make this happen, continued Thielst, and is something that should exist in any patient engagement system. "We look at apps for motivational purposes--if we want to get a patient to lose weight, stay sober, or stop smoking, one of the best ways to support them is to create a social component where friends and followers provide that extra bit of encouragement and coaching they need," she said.

Although the patient plays a major role in the engagement movement, Dan Martich, MD, CMIO at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, believes physicians are being called on to change their workflows as well, all with the help of IT. In turn, he said, patient engagement is heightened when physicians feel comfortable with the technology at their disposal.

"There's a confluence coming with Meaningful Use Stage 2," Martich said in an interview. "It's changing the way physicians document, and it's putting more burdens on us. I don't know how this perfect storm is going to play out, but it's a huge opportunity for health IT to solve a big and growing problem."

Indeed, health IT could be a solution to the problem, but a key aspect of the success of these tools lies in the way they're presented to patients. Thielst said providers should avoid offering "an app here or a game here." An enterprise portal, she said, shows the range of technologies available without overwhelming the patient. "It's about facilitating the learning process and finding ways of offering the range of opportunities to people in a seamless way, rather than have a bunch of separate systems and tools out there patients have to hunt and find," she said.

Whether one looks at patient portals, mobile apps, or social engagement platforms, it is obvious that health IT systems focused on patient engagement are growing by leaps and bounds. Click through to see seven helpful patient engagement systems, designed to benefit both doctor and patient.


Patient Engagement Systems (PES) allows primary care doctors to identify, manage, and draw in patients with chronic diseases. The platform assembles laboratory, pharmaceutical, and other clinical data into a Web-based platform, which delivers patient-centric clinical decision support. At the same time, the platform transmits personalized messages that familiarize patients with care plans. The system encourages patients to be more involved in their care, while helping providers stick to chronic care guidelines.

The platform has demonstrated total cost reduction for chronic patients. In an NIH clinical study, PES clients saw savings of more than $2,400 per diabetic patient per year. Pictured here is a slide listing the various processes and platforms on which PES is available.

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Eliza Corp. says its Medication Adherence Solution captures insights on adherence behaviors in patients' own words and makes them actionable. The company gathered feedback from medical adherence interactions and used them to shape the tool, which is a multi-modal program that assesses and addresses member adherence to treatment. The tool also provides resources relevant to a member's specific medication questions and needs and, when appropriate, offers real-time transfers to the members' dispensing pharmacy.

Eliza's tool includes a series of automated, interactive phone calls and emails, triggered by behaviors. The tool offers education, and it gauges members' understanding of their regimen and self-efficacy. Eliza Medication Adherence Solution keeps providers in the loop by giving them alerts on which patients are non-compliant with their medications. Pictured above is a sample screenshot of the tool.

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The Better Day Health app is a Web-based, patient-centered health and practice management software platform that is designed to drive improvements in patient care quality, coordination, and collaboration. The platform was developed by VoiceHIT, and it combines predictive modeling and third-party applications and devices to turn patient data into actionable information.

It is primarily used by healthcare providers and support staff in ambulatory settings, and it helps practitioners develop relationships with their patients. By leveraging voice recognition from Nuance Healthcare at the point of care, each patient note is available immediately. Patients also have the ability to chime in as they're made aware of what is put into their record-- they become part of the clinical documentation process by hearing first-hand what is documented and are then given the opportunity to ask questions and provide additional insight. Pictured above is a sample screenshot of the platform.

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PatientPoint provides patient and physician engagement programs at the point of care. About 61,000 physicians are currently using the program. The programs give care managers access to patient data from multiple sources in a practice dashboard, which also offers a complete view of a physician's patient panel.

In addition, the tool's adherence programs deliver treatment messages to patients in between visits. Pictured above is a sample slide of the different tools PatientPoint offers in a typical office setting. They include exam room networks, waiting room networks, and care coordination and check-in tools.

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WellFX is a cloud-based healthcare tool that extends care and patient engagement outside provider visits, with an aim of improving healthcare outcomes and costs. In addition, the system is HIPAA compliant and acts as a social platform for providers to deploy in their patient, staff, and agency communities.

Using the tool, providers can create managed and unmanaged online communities for patients to meet and share experiences while accessing provider-created education and healthcare content. WellFx says it overcomes the shortcomings of consumer and employee social platforms by guaranteeing patient confidentiality, anonymity, and data protection. Pictured above is a screenshot of the WellFX app, showing a user's options of seeing his/her friends, albums, profile, etc.

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American Well, a Boston-based company, is used in more than 20 states by insurance companies like United Healthcare and various Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. The company's technology allows a patient to log onto a provider network and connect with a doctor or specialist 24/7. Patients are also able to have live video-chat sessions with a doctor, as well as text and email connections with their physician.

American Well's platform also enables mobile access via smartphone and tablet apps, along with the ability to exchange vital data directly with EHRs and key medical devices. Pictured above is a screenshot from a patient iPad showing a consumer searching through all available healthcare experts and highlighting a pharmacist who is available for help on the platform.

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