For many, getting the COVID vaccine seems like an inevitability. But how will you find out when it’s available? If you’re like me, you have no idea when you’ll be able to get the vaccine, who will tell you when it’s available, or what way you’ll find out. A phone call from a provider? A letter in the mail from the local public health authority? An email from the pharmacy? As the country waits, the disconnected nature of the U.S. healthcare environment will have real-life consequences for many.
While we’ve previously discussed the potential of automation in vaccine distribution, there’s more than supply chain logistics at play here. A key missing ingredient is a personalized healthcare experience. And the COVID vaccine is only one of many applications. From diabetes care management to addiction treatment and more, the ability to target patients based on their data, and communicate a care plan, can save lives.
A 360-Degree View of the Patient
Customers increasingly expect brands to predict and recommend their most basic needs and wants. Yet most healthcare providers remain largely in the dark about their patients beyond the annual physical and lack the basic digital tools to promote wellness.
To get a 360-degree view of the patient, healthcare organizations must start with a customer’s digital profile, an essential foundation to delivering omnichannel, personalized healthcare.
Not every patient experience has to start in the doctor’s waiting room or at the sliding doors of the emergency department (ED). By moving that front door online, healthcare organizations give patients entry into a digital experience focused on prevention and personalization.
The patient experience may start on an app, in a portal, or via a medical wearable, enhancing the digital profile at every step. By mining demographic and health profile attributes gleaned from a customer’s medical record, while leveraging a customer’s HIPAA consent for Treatment, Payment, and Operations (TPO), as well as attribute domains such as Health Risk, Life Events, Caregiver status, to name a few, providers gain transformative insights into the health and wellness of a patient.
Here are a few examples of what that looks like.
Personalized Healthcare Recommendations
Building systems to communicate with patients in ways that motivate better decisions, promote better health, and enhance the overall patient experience requires not only virtual care capabilities but also the big data infrastructure, artificial intelligence, and machine learning-enabled by secure interoperability. Ultimately, a better patient experience translates into patient loyalty, deepening the patient relationship with the healthcare organization.
We’ve put together some use cases across the care continuum that would benefit from the kind of personalized healthcare afforded by clinical BI.
Preventive: Influenza Immunization
With half of all adults not getting the flu vaccine last year, the need for not only promoting immunization among key populations but also making it easier for patients to receive the vaccine can play a pivotal role in preventing unnecessary health complications and deaths. Throw in the potential for annual coronavirus vaccinations as well and the desire to find a way to engage patients through digital channels becomes even more pressing.
Imagine a push notification on a patient’s mobile phone that notifies the patient that it’s time to get vaccinated. The patient then automatically receives several choices of available times and locations to get immunized, while the system also updates the provider with immunization records. This is the kind of simple patient safety measure that drives better health outcomes, experience, and loyalty, in addition to preventing the unnecessary, costly spread of flu in waiting rooms.
Behavioral: Depression Education and Screening
Almost 10% of all physician office visits in the U.S. indicate depression on the medical record. Yet about half of all patients with major depression receive no treatment for it. For patients whose very struggles can throw up obstacles to treatment, eliminating barriers to care is critical to improving mental health.
With a digital profile of patients dealing with depressions, healthcare organizations could follow up with patients to:
- Educate them on their condition and provide helpful content
- Prompt them to seek a depression screening virtually
- Assist in scheduling a virtual or in-person visit with a mental health provider
Digital outreach like this can nudge patients who otherwise might have fallen out of the care continuum back on track and towards better health outcomes.
Chronic: Asthma Care Management
Managing a chronic condition can be a lot of work. From medication adherence to regular tests and lifestyle changes, patients sometimes get lost in the demands of treating lifelong symptoms. Anyone who lives with asthma knows how easy it can be to miss an inhaler refill or find themselves ill-prepared for an attack.
Through a digital profile, asthma patients can enroll in an asthma care management program. If enrolled already, digital engagement might include:
- Assessing and advising on a care plan that can be performed both virtually and in-person
- Proactively monitoring the health vitals of patients through a smart clinical device or app
- Supporting patient self-management and education through seasonal and timely content
- Providing automated reminders for appointments, prescription refills, exams, lab tests, and more
- Promoting value-added services in areas such as physical activity, diet, and weight loss
While a patient’s asthma may never go away, providers and payers can ease the challenge of navigating the complexity of a chronic condition by personalizing the patient’s care journey.
Unplanned: Chest Pain Visit to the ED
In the US, there are 139 million unplanned visits to an ED per year. To better serve patients who aren’t proactive about managing their health, healthcare providers need a low-effort way to address chronic conditions. Applying human-centered design can solve this challenge, reducing unplanned hospital readmissions in the process.
Let’s say a patient visits an ED after feeling chest pain. While on the way to the ED, the patient sends her data to providers so they can start building a medical profile. When the patient is diagnosed with a chronic heart condition, the provider captures audio of the visit with transcription in a patient-friendly format. This gives the overwhelmed patient a clear resource about her next steps.
The recording is incorporated into a digital care plan along with personalized healthcare recommendations for treatment, and the provider gives the patient a biometric device to continuously monitor her vitals. This data can alert the provider when issues arise so that the patient can schedule a virtual visit and eliminate the need for readmission. The proactive nature of the digital care plan reduces pain points along the patient’s journey to recovery.
These types of patient safety and engagement solutions will drive better patient health outcomes. As it’s become clear that patients will need to update their COVID vaccinations annually, the need to create a digital experience that promotes adherence and lower ER and hospital admissions become more important than ever. For providers who are dealing with the financial fallout of COVID, a digital customer profile may also help to lower costs and improve loyalty, in addition to promoting other wellness services. The benefits are too great to continue to ignore.
VP, Healthcare Solutions