- As the healthcare industry continues to reform its practices, implement new technologies, and work toward improved quality of care, there are specific steps that could lead to meeting patient engagement objectives and better health outcomes across the care continuum. What are the next steps that physicians and healthcare workers need to follow in the coming months?
John D. Halamka, MD, MS, is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, attempts to answer this question in his latest blog post. First, it is important to understand that doctors and clinicians across the country are exasperated with some of the meaningful use requirements, quality measures, and patient engagement objectives found within the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
“In an era when we’re trying to control costs, adding more clinical FTEs to spread the work over a large team is not possible,” Halamka explained. “The end result is that providers spend hours each night catching up on the day’s documentation and are demanding better tools/automation to reduce their strain. However, current EHRs are in an early stage of development and are data capture tools rather than customer relationship management systems.”
Essentially, when it comes to planning the next steps for the following year, Halamka feels that the next generation of technology needs to replace human workflow and manage much of physician tasks. The mobile health industry including mobile apps is making headway in revolutionizing the healthcare field and replacing some more expensive electronic systems in ways that ensure the same high-quality care.
“The consumerization of software (BYOD devices and apps) has created infinite demand and high expectations. The difference between the $2 app and the $2 billion dollar EHR is that the $2 app is easier to use, more convenient and possibly even more useful. There is no question that EHR transactional systems will need to exist to support compliance and regulatory imperatives, but increasingly we’ll look to third party apps to provide modular functionality on top of the transactional systems,” Halamka wrote.
With healthcare providers becoming more concerned with the many meaningful use and patient engagement objectives the government expects them to meet, it grows more important than ever before to incorporate mobile health tools that reduce strain and improve workflow across the care continuum.
It is also vital to remember that mobile health apps and wearable devices could all push forward patient engagement, which would alleviate the strain many physicians are encountering. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) illustrates how patient engagement can be fostered through web-based toolkits geared toward caregivers and patients.
In the study, patients and caregivers were offered tablets in which they were able to utilize tools that assisted in their care while on medical leave at the hospital. The tools offered a variety of educational material for patients to better understand their medical condition while also offering a secure messaging platform for communicating with their healthcare provider privately.
“Doctors and nurses oversee the plan of care, but the patients’ goals, priorities, and preferences may not always be effectively conveyed to the clinical care team. Decision-making should be shared among patients, families and healthcare providers. We found that this tool widened communication, helping patients and family members partner with healthcare providers to improve the quality and safety of their care,” lead author Anuj Dalal, MD, a hospitalist in BWH's Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, said in a press release from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Essentially, in order relieve provider stress regarding the meaningful use requirements and patient engagement objectives, it is necessary to implement new technologies and mobile health tools that will improve workflow and manage the many tasks of clinicians quickly and efficiently.