Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon - InformationWeek
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Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon

Healthcare providers must look beyond Meaningful Use regulations and start asking: Is my site inspiring loyalty from patients?

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Patient Engagement

Kaiser Permanente has found that a patient is 2.6 times more likely to stay with a particular physician in its network if he or she is using the company's KP.org site to do things such as message back and forth with the doctor.

Aurora Health Care found that no-shows for doctor visits fell from around 10% to just 2% if the patient made the appointment using the provider's online scheduling system.

Vanguard Health Systems has layered about 8.5 billion pieces of consumer data on top of clinical healthcare data in hopes of better understanding people coming to its website. So if you're the "chief medical officer mom" coming to Vanguard's site to make appointments for the kids, Vanguard plans to show you images of families and messages about immunizations. A man in his 50s should see people who look like him, and perhaps get a reminder that it's time to start scheduling a regular colonoscopy.

Kaiser, Aurora and Vanguard are at different stages of connecting with patients online, and they have different approaches. But one common thread is that their digital "patient engagement" strategies aren't centered solely on electronic medical records data and related patient portal features such as access to lab results and health data. They're exploring new areas that will make patients want to do business with them.

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Too often when meeting with IT teams, "if I ask them what they think of when I say 'patient engagement,' they say patient portals," says Dr. Peter Kilbridge, senior director of research at the Advisory Board. Portals that surround an electronic heath records such as Epic's MyChart are one piece of engagement, but IT would do better to focus on the whole process of patient care and communications, then back into the technology tools that support it, he says.

Like retail, financial services, music, travel and a range of other industries before it, healthcare is becoming a digital business, and that means providers should benchmark their online engagement against other industries'. Healthcare providers will face these questions: How come a retailer such as Amazon or Apple can remember I bought an Ace of Bass recording the last time I visited, but the people who help keep me alive or healthy have to ask about my allergies every time I show up at the doctor's office? Why can I book a flight, hotel and car from three different companies on one website but not schedule doctor appointments online and see all of my upcoming medical visits in one place?

"Our members are always comparing us with the best website they've ever used," says Dr. Ted Eytan, physician director with Kaiser Permanente's Center for Total Health. Accepting that people are making those comparisons is one big step in the right direction.

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2013 | 4:01:35 AM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
I agree, in order to be successful in any IT venture you
have to incorporate all other business aspects, with marketing becoming even
more integral than before. Combining IT with marketing is crucial if the
healthcare industry is to compete with other rapidly advancing and
technologically driven industries. People are used to seeing websites such as
Amazon remember their preferences and mold according to those preferences, and
they expect the same level of communication when they visit healthcare sites.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
User Rank: Author
7/16/2013 | 1:51:55 PM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
I thought Larry Stofko's point in the article was essential -- that you need clinicians, marketing and IT working together on patient engagement. We're seeing this kind of melding across industries, where marketing is getting more tech savvy and more technologists are deeply involved in digital business strategies. That path between IT and marketing isn't well worn, IT can't wait to be asked to join these efforts.
User Rank: Author
7/16/2013 | 1:48:49 PM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
That's great, Allan. My dentist office now gives me an iPad when I check in, and it has my allergies check-boxed from the last time I visited, and it asks me to confirm whether any of these have changed.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2013 | 1:44:17 PM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
When I saw this:
"...but the people who help keep me alive or healthy have to ask about my allergies every time I show up at the doctor's office?"

I couldn't help but think of this.

"The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."
-- George Bernard Shaw
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2013 | 2:39:06 AM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
Great article, Chris. As a PR and marketing professional, I believe that the most successful organizatoins are removing the old walls that have historically separated health IT and health communications professionals within provider organizations. Together, they can be a powerful team in driving real patient engagement.
Alex Kane Rudansky
Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
7/15/2013 | 7:10:24 PM
re: Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon
Most of the CIOs I've spoken with also point to "patient portals" as patient engagement. Interesting that Kilbridge considers portals to be only one piece of patient engagement.
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