Patient engagement technology is transforming the healthcare industry, and for good reasons. When applied strategically into programs such as musculoskeletal care lines, innovative technology has the capability to transform the quality of care delivered, streamline workflows, increase patient enablement, and drive growth in market share within an extremely competitive landscape.
Although the shift is already in motion, healthcare providers will experience a more substantial adjustment to outsourcing partners such as ambulatory surgery centers for outpatient procedures and more risk-sharing payment models to coincide with the evolving bundled payment system.
With that in mind, digital care technology is no longer a consideration for organizations, but a key driver to program success. There are several trends within the patient engagement technology space that have begun to emerge and will continue to grow in popularity amongst patient engagement technology companies as they sharpen features with digital care products; they will be imperative for providers to vet when looking for solutions to implement into their own healthcare systems or practice.
- Personalized treatment plans to address the health disparities crisis within the industry. Organizations should be able to provide an efficient and agile experience by building and scaling a highly personalized remote care strategy across a large and diverse patient panel in an effort to eliminate existing care gaps.
- Patient-centric platforms to align with the shift to consumerism in healthcare, along with regulations for digital care to incorporate patient centricity for meaningful interactions, cultivating trust, and enhancing overall patient experience.
- Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) should be a big focus for tech companies, in order to create algorithms for patient protocols based on procedure type backed by historical outcome data.
We created this all-encompassing guide, which deep dives into patient engagement technology, how your organization can be agile and competitive, and the importance of integrating a highly intuitive digital care platform into your service lines for better outcomes, increased patient experience, and long-term program success.
Here’s an overview of what we will cover in this article:
- Current trends in patient engagement technology market
- Benefits of patient engagement technology
- How to engage patients in healthcare
- Future of patient portals
Current trends in patient engagement technology market
In order to win market share, it’s important to understand the fundamentals, starting with current trends and shifts of the market. There was a pivotal point amidst the pandemic when leaders of healthcare systems saw the immediate need for digital solutions, and then all stakeholders experienced first-hand the benefits and effectiveness in managing health digitally. With that being said, patient engagement technology is here to stay, and will only continue to flourish incrementally throughout the healthcare industry.
In fact, 52% of CIOs say patient engagement technology is a top priority in 2021, in comparison to the previous year, when only 14% of CIOs were targeting their focus on AI and machine learning.
Patient engagement market size
Today, health care spending exceeds $3.5 trillion. Private spending and public subsidiaries have become the norm for treating our aging population – one quarter of the US workforce will be 55+ by 2025 — with significant impacts for three key audiences:
With an influx of technology, information, and data flooding the market, patients are more empowered than ever before to make educated decisions on their health providers.
They’re traveling to high-value health systems in order to attain the best outcomes, and conducting extensive research before making elective care decisions. Like any consumer, satisfaction, cost, and quality are primary decision-making factors for patients.
In this competitive, value-based environment, it makes sense to identify service lines that are capable of:
1. Standardizing care plans to deliver consistent, quality outcomes and,
2. Improving patient and provider experience and satisfaction.
Although the specific care improvement goals may differ among health systems, there is still consensus among providers around reducing post-acute utilization, navigating patients across the episode, and shortening the time spent in the hospital.
As a result, there are Centers of Excellence sites— innovative systems monopolizing regional patient volume — emerging. But it takes more than awareness and brand recognition to achieve this. The majority of ‘Super Centers of Excellence’ are investing in their MSK service lines like orthopedic programs as a strategic growth initiative.
Since 2009, CMS bundled payment models such as the Acute Care Episode (ACE), Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR), and Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) have shifted reimbursement models to fee-for-value and total episode outcomes, rather than paying for individual services.
In addition, the nation’s largest self-insured employers are aligning with the highest value centers. For select procedures such as joint replacements, patients are forced to pay a significantly higher copay if they don’t receive treatment from one of their employer’s ‘Center of Excellence’ facilities.
Armed with new data and insights, payers and patients are continually demanding more for less, with a greater emphasis on consistent quality.
This graph provided by Grandview Research shows the historical and projected growth for patient engagement solutions from 2016-2028.
Here are several highlights of what the report covers:
- The global patient engagement solutions market size was estimated at USD 15.1 billion in 2020
- The market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4% from 2021 to 2028
- The market is majorly driven by the increasing utilization of EHRs for patient-centric care and the adoption of mobile health devices.
- National Health Services (NHS) reported in a separate survey that approximately 92.0% of the patients feel assured in self-managing treatment.
Clinical leakage rates
According to a survey highlighted in a Becker’s Hospital Review article, “43% of respondents estimated their organization loses more than 10% of revenue to patient leakage.” However, “60% of respondents said their organization doesn’t follow up to see if patients were cared for by the clinician they were referred to.”
This survey, conducted by Sage Growth Partners, illustrates a continuous struggle for clinicians that results in millions of revenue loss.
Leakage originates from current workflows not allowing for standardized paths. Providers are losing track of patients and are unable to follow up and convert appropriate patients to surgery. Not only does this leave patients to their own devises once discharged, it also causes a blind spot in patient outcomes.
Integrated care delivery solutions
If patient leakage is a clear source of revenue loss for your organization, you should consider an integrated care delivery solutions which allows patients to access additional education and videos and track their progress, and data collection is automatically shared with the patient’s care team.
What investors are looking for in patient engagement solutions
At the 2021 HLTH Conference, there were engagement panels to discuss what investors are looking for in patient engagement solutions. The main challenge that organizations face is how to show out for investors is adapting the typical patient behavior, in a way that drives increasingly more outcomes.
Provider-driven care is the solution
This is where provider-driven care comes into play. This MedCity News article brings up an interesting point which is in order to change patient behavior, organizations should engage them through someone they trust; their provider.
The second motivation investors want to support is data-backed evidence that it is helping patients experience a positive recovery and the evidence of ROI it brings back to the organization.
Immediate need for scalable technology due to lack of FTEs
According to the Healthcare IT News article about frontline caregivers and digitized healthcare, there has been a considerable lack of consideration for frontline healthcare professionals when it comes to digital care tools. In fact, a recent poll found that 90% of ASC and mid-size health organizations are still sending reports through fax to the EHR.
Lack of interoperability and bidirectional communication
This means that staff are taking valuable time and effort to extract notable observations from reports and physically placing them in the EHR, because there is a lack in interoperability between EHR and telehealth. In a time when burnout is at an all-time high, it is crucial to consider alternative solutions to streamline outdated and extremely manual processes like this.
In many cases, ASCs and health systems are forced to allocate additional hiring funds to onboard staff that focus on this task full time. These traditional, overrun methods are a waste of time, effort and resources that are prone to human error, and more importantly, is something that patient engagement technology should be equipped to streamline from the get-go.
Healthcare establishments that are interoperable with EHR systems and have bidirectional communication puts FTEs in a position to focus on their main responsibilities and care giving.
Benefits of patient engagement technology
Above, we have discussed the benefits associated with technology and patient engagement, and here’s a quick recap of those:
The benefits of scaling care navigation include:
- Shorter hospital length of stay
- Reduced readmissions, complications, and ER visits
- Containing leakage outside the system
- Workforce optimization and reduced clinician burnout
Patient engagement drives new revenue
Although technology is an investment, data-backed research has shown us that it has a power to save money, and drive new sources of revenue to an organization.
Enablement of COEs
The Center of Excellence distinction insinuates a hospital or health system has proven best practices in a specific category which drives quality care, high patient satisfaction, and desired outcomes. This achievement can open many doors for health systems and result in unprecedented growth within the industry, including increase patient volumes, attracting high-profile clinicians, and gaining market share. All of which is crucial in remaining competitive in a expanding industry.
Payer reimbursement tied to accreditation and distinction center
A value based care model is an example of a care system that directly joins reimbursements to the quality of care delivered. An accreditation and distinction center have proven best practices to ensure high quality effective care tactics that consistently result in better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction, which in a value based care model would equate to reimbursements.
Pre-authorization required reimbursement
Streamlined prior authorization can remove stress and burden on both patients and providers, allowing both parties to focus on patient care, outcomes, and satisfaction. Pre-authorization requirements ensure timely, effective care without concern for reimbursement and the hassle of paperwork, repeated calls, and displeased patients which impedes clinician productivity and patient satisfaction.
Patient experience and ratings driving market share in competitive geographies
Hospital and health system reputation is growing increasing important as the healthcare market saturates and patients become increasingly aware of their care options. Patients are looking for the best care for them and are likely to rely on the factors such as success rate, outcomes scores, patient satisfaction scores, and provider and facility ratings: building a solid reputation through these criteria as well as achieving notable accreditations and distinctions will boost patient volume.
New methods of care delivery are focused on providing tools for recovery rather than dictating the outcome. By not smothering the patient with services, we’ve been able to improve compliance, quality, and patient satisfaction.
How to engage patients with technology
There are 3 main pain points that we have identified by working with many organizations, specifically within MSK, that have an opportunity to generate efficient profits. In order to implement a future-proof strategy with technology, you must follow these steps:
1. Identify and manage patient-generated cost outside the traditional system in order to control the total cost of care.
2. Streamline navigation across the entire episode of care to be able to control the home setting.
3. Leverage data and analytics to enable your team to manage variation and utilize insights for continuous improvement.
While provides and care teams can micromanage every touchpoint when the patient is in the hospital, the majority of the recovery and unnecessary, tacked-on costs are dependent on what patients are doing outside the traditional four walls of the system. Every post-acute service utilized is another cost added to the total episode and creates unnecessary opportunity for clinical variation.
There is a simple solution to this challenge: Improve your patient experience by empowering the patient to take control of their own recovery with intuitive pre- and post-op knowledge, goals, and task lists on a digital platform.
Controlling the home
The goal of navigation is to identify low- versus high- value tasks, to standardize proactive outreach and task completion, and allocate resources appropriately.
From there, we can identify the importance of each task by tying it back to a key challenge. For example, streamlining and standardizing post-op form collection can help reduce mid-level provider burnout. If that’s a recurring issue within your organization, it should be weighted accordingly.
Most teams today are structured according to the convenience of a task. By deploying solutions like digital navigation and education, telehealth, and asynchronous communication, you can structure care teams according to value and address variation more efficiently.
By bringing focus to your work flows, you’ve effectively become a more agile service line. Without actionable measurement, there’s no system for continuous improvement.
We’ve determined three standard touchpoints that are typically recognized as low-value, and the steps that you can take to optimize resources, thereby creating value:
Controlling the outcomes
Prior to the EHR, providers had one way of collecting outcomes: pen and paper. The process was simple and gave clinicians the essentials for using patient reported outcomes for informed decision-making. However, it was incredibly labor-intensive and reactive, and collection rates were an abysmal 10-20%.
EHRs enable a more efficient method for data collection, but collection rates remain the same due to lack of patient portal usage. The cost of outcomes collection remains a challenge today, as well as the increasing demand for actionable data.
As we move away from siloed collection to fulfill insurance regulations, and towards predictive analytics across the entire episode for care redesign, the importance of actionable data is more critical than ever.
In order to address this issue, you must ask yourself the following two critical questions:
1. Where is variation in quality and cost coming from? This allows you to predict outcomes, gather evidence for continuous improvement, and create a culture of accountability.
2. How do we compare to like-minded centers? Asking this question will enable you to sell outcomes to paying stakeholders, share and receive best practices with leading centers, and create a culture of transparency.
At a bare minimum, traditional methods for data collection enable clinicians to react to high-risk patients. But observing variation and trends over time with technology will tell a more important story on outcomes before they happen. Managing outliers is important, but tools that enable care redesign effectively complete the virtuous cycle of care improvement.
Efficacy of Virtual vs Outpatient Physical Therapy in ASC Setting Study
Total Joint Arthroplasty (TJA) continues to shift to same-day and ASC-based recover, with a projected 77% growth over the next 10 years.
Prior research has demonstrated safety and efficacy of Virtual PT in THA, however limited research has examined same-day discharge patients. This study compared engagement, PROMs, and satisfaction in TKA patients based on physical therapy utilization.
Between January 2018 and February 2020, outpatient cases at a single institution were enrolled in a comprehensive patient engagement program that assigned a RN navigator pre-operatively to follow patients through recovery.
They had access to virtual PT, education, communication, and outcomes collection. Patient reported PT utilization was segmented to retrospectively analyze the impact of virtual PT only versus OPT + virtual PT on engagement, PROMs, and satisfaction.
Patients who only utilized virtual PT had better initial functional scores that equilibrated by 1 year postoperatively. Implementation of a comprehensive patient engagement program allows for utilization of virtual PT as an effective alternative to outpatient therapy in same-day and non-hospital-based TKA patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is patient engagement technology?
Patient engagement technology refers to digital tools that enable patients and care partners to have an active role in patient care. An active role in self-care refers to patients having the knowledge and tools needed to participate in their own care, including informed decision-making, self advocating, proper recover techniques, and more.
How can technology be used to engage patients?
This technology can boost patient independence by educating, guiding, instructing, and encouraging patients through their care journey with digital tools that extend provider care. Tactics such as gamification, goal setting, and daily wellness survey can boost patient participation within these tools that not only grow patients’ engagement rate but will also allow patients to actively participate in their care journeys.
How does technology help patient engagement?
Technology allows providers to extend their reach to patients outside the Dr.’s office and allow communication and guidance where patients were otherwise on their own. Through instructional materials, educational sessions, and daily tasks, patient engagement technology keeps patients active in their own care throughout a period of time when they are not seeing their clinician.
What is the best patient engagement technology?
The best kind of patient engagement technology consists of more than one capability that can allow a multifaceted approach to digital care. Platforms such as Force Therapeutics offer multiple capabilities that are designed to optimize patient care and patient experience that can result in major benefits for health systems and patients.
What are examples of patient engagement technology?
There is a wide variety of patient engagement technology that ranges from digital clinician messaging, medication refills, remote Dr.’s visits, wearables such as smartwatches, wellness tracking apps, remote exercise or instruction content, etc. There are so many ways patient engagement technology can be utilized, but one thing they all have in common is they all give the patient an active role in their own care journey.
What is a patient engagement platform?
A patient engagement platform is a multi-tool digital program and often consists of a patient and provider specific content that aides in patient care. Many platforms are equipped with tools that allows patients an independence for their care teams. This care model is designed to extend clinician care but providing guidance to patients that will minimize their need for readmissions, ER visits, phone calls, and can mitigate unnecessary use of hospital resources and providers’ time.
How does technology improve patient care?
Patient engagement technology not only improves patient care but can also increase patient satisfaction rates, reduce readmissions, and shorten recovery time. There has been a vast amount of research in the past 10 years (Harvard Business Review: Giving Patients an Active Role in Their Health Care) that exemplifies the benefits that result from patients having an active role in their care. Patient engagement technology is one of the best ways to promote patient self-care outside a hospital or Dr.’s office.
Future of patient portals
Clinicians that conquer all three pain points major pain points in MSK care (control the cost, control the home, and control the outcomes) will effectively future-proof their service line and gain market share.
However, this isn’t possible without administrative support. Clinical leaders need to work closely with their administrators to create a progressive culture by demonstrating how evidence-based care improvement will ultimately lead to market differentiation.
By controlling patient generated costs, extending clinician reach into the home, and leveraging actionable data for evidence-based change with patient engagement technology, organizations have the opportunity to elevate care, reduce variation, and ultimately reach Center of Excellence status; which are all necessary achievements to appeal to the new generation of patients who are taking recovery and healthcare choices into their own hands.
Force Therapeutics is a powerful, episode-based digital care platform and research network designed to help clinicians intelligently extend their reach. Our platform leverages AI, videos, and digital connection to directly engage patients at every step of the care journey – from the point of surgery scheduling, to post-op recovery and beyond.
To learn more, take a look at our Buyer’s Guide: How to Measure the Value of Virtual Care.