Ready Or Not? How to gauge your organization’s readiness to adopt new patient engagement technology

 Adopt new patient engagement technology

Burwood Group’s healthcare team recently had the opportunity to speak with a young startup in the patient engagement space. The company is marketing a software platform that has both a patient engagement smartphone application as well as a clinician desktop dashboard that can be used to monitor patients along the care continuum.

The easy-to-use app allows patients, or their designated care advocates, to select key terms describing their present status and then select any number of physiological responses to describe their current physical well-being – all in just a few easy swipes on their smartphone. This information is streamed in real time to the care team’s desktop dashboard, so they can quickly intervene and enact any necessary changes to the patient’s care plan. 

These types of patient engagement tools are of special interest to both payer and provider organizations that are incented with value-based contracts and rewarded for clinical outcomes that keep patients out of the hospital. And as we know, keeping patients out of the hospital and in good health is the primary goal of the Medicare readmission reduction program.

The challenge for the care navigator is to keep a realistic pulse on every patient, each in his or her own environment.

Meeting these program goals requires new tools, technologies and processes delivered by a care team member that is assigned to a defined population of patients. Their job, working with the primary care provider, is to monitor patients who are at risk for readmissions. The challenge for the care navigator is to keep a realistic pulse on every patient, each in his or her own environment. Manual methods of calling patients and determining status based on limited information reported by the patient are obviously inefficient and ineffective.

We’re seeing that as the role of the care navigator evolves, many new tools and technologies are being developed, piloted, and implemented with varying degrees of success and adoption. Currently, there are over two dozen vendors selling some aspect of patient engagement solutions, each touting their own features and functionality.

Which brings us back to our conversation with the startup company. They told us that despite the acknowledgement that insight into patients’ daily health data can impact their outcomes, care navigators are not adopting the tools as readily as they hoped – leaving the patient with inadequate follow up.

This can result in a lot of capital investment in tools that may or may not solve the particular goals of the organization. For instance, to fully engage patients in their own care, applications need common features such as the ability to make online appointments, securely text their care team, and review lab results and medication lists, to name a few. At the same time, care navigators need features that alert them in real time to how the patient is feeling and indicate if the patient is experiencing symptoms that would result in failure or demonstrate a lack of compliance with their care plan.

With so many competing products available in the marketplace today, it is no wonder that the primary user of these tools – the care navigator, often suffers with ineffective technology or multiple tool overload.

With so many competing products available in the marketplace today, it is no wonder that the primary user of these tools – the care navigator, often suffers with ineffective technology or multiple tool overload. When this happens, the tools that were meant to make their jobs easier are used in a limited capacity or not at all. The resulting processes provide no returns on investment while the organization continues to pay for support and maintenance.

So how can healthcare organizations assess readiness for new technology adoption? After all, it is clear that innovative tools that bring insight to the patient’s condition in his or her own day-to-day have great value in reducing readmissions and preventing potentially harmful exacerbations of their condition, and there are steps that can be taken to ensure optimal use and successful returns.

An organizational readiness assessment early in the planning stages may be just the answer HIT leaders need. This will help them sort out which tools to evaluate that end users would most likely adopt. Many advisory service firms will suggest performing an organizational readiness assessment prior to technology evaluation to ensure adoption and compliance when finally implementing new technologies.

One method is a readiness survey that identifies the organizations past experiences with successes and failures of previous technologies. This type of survey provides a realistic picture of any barriers that must be overcome before leadership can expect full adoption. Organizational culture, leadership practices, training and support are other factors assessed in a readiness survey. Without identifying the end users’ willingness and likelihood to adopt new technologies upfront, the stated outcomes may never be realized.

In our next post, we will outline the key themes and questions that a technology readiness assessment must include to gauge how prepared your organization is to adopt new technologies and handle the processes that support it.


 

November 5, 2015