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Go Beyond Patient Portals to Engage Consumers, Report Says

Consumerism and the move to value-based care will require health care organizations (HCOs) to shift their engagement strategies from episodic care to a new model of coordinated, continuous care including near real-time, mobile-first engagement.

Today, there is no all-in-one solution that provides the functionality required for the next generation of consumer engagement in health care. Chilmark Research's latest report, Beyond the Patient Portal: Technology for Improved Consumer Engagement, identifies the critical attributes and technologies necessary to support this new form of engagement. The report clearly articulates how HCOs and other key stakeholders in the health care industry must work together to bring those features into a single platform that benefits all consumers regardless of age, health status, technological proficiency, or socioeconomic status.

Features such as bidirectional messaging with members of an extended care team, multimedia educational resources, interactive health coaching, and integration with community and other nonclinical resources remain in silos today, creating complexity for the consumer. Overcoming this will require a broader, more open framework and technology architecture than what patient portals today can provide.

"Health care consumers are increasingly asked to take greater responsibility for their health. All too often, this means greater financial responsibility—in the form of higher copays, deductibles, premiums, and out-of-pocket costs—but not greater personal responsibility," says Brian Eastwood, Chilmark Research analyst and author of this report. "If the industry expects consumers to pay more, then consumers should expect to get more—apps, devices, services, or other solutions to help them make more informed health decisions, reduce their utilization of health care services, and lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives."

The report uses the term "consumer" instead of "patient" in order to recognize that, even for the sickest individuals, the majority of their lives are spent outside the four walls of an HCO—at work, at home, and in the community, where they live their lives. Focusing on just the "patient" is misguided—the more expansive term "consumer" is needed to fully optimize engagement.

The report provides several important frameworks for HCOs and vendors, including the following:

In addition, the report introduces the concept of the collaborative health record, which enables a free flow of health care data at the direction and consent of the consumer. This record brings together all data pertinent to a consumer's health and well-being profile: clinical, claims, employer, device, social, behavioral, community, family history, consumer-generated, and more. The collaborative health record is the natural evolution from the static EHR to a dynamic collaborative record to support full 360-degree engagement processes.

The report draws on interviews with more than 20 HIT vendors in a variety of domains, including EHRs, patient relationship management, telehealth, chronic disease management, employee benefit management, and patient education.

Anyone interested in the role that improved consumer engagement can plan in helping the health care industry achieve the goals of value-based care, coordinated care, and condition management will gain strategic insight from reading Beyond the Patient Portal. HCOs, payers, HIT vendors, consultants, investors, patient advocates, and others will all benefit from this in-depth report. Chilmark Research will also be hosting a free webinar (register here) with the author of the report October 4 at 1 PM (ET) for those interested in hearing some of the highlights of the research and asking any questions on this subject.

Source: Chilmark Research