Hear Laura Bramschreiber of the West Corporation Healthcare Practice discuss the impacts of technology-driven consumerism on patient engagement and how organizations can start simply with patient engagement and grow into more complex unified patient engagement strategies, without a massive IT effort.
Kevin: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Healthcare Perspectives, brought to you by the West Corporation Healthcare Practice. This is where we discuss and explore strategies and tactics to improve patient engagement and activation across the care continuum. I'm your host, Kevin Crane, welcome to the show.
This is the second episode in a two-part series on patient engagement. We've been exploring a recent report from Chilmark Research on clinical patient engagement. My guest last time was Naveen Rao, an analyst at Chilmark, where we discussed some of the key findings of the report. Today I'm pleased to welcome Laura Bramschreiber to the program. Laura is vice president of marketing strategy at West Corporation Healthcare Practice. She's been examining the Chilmark research as well, and digging deeper into what it means. And, Laura, Naveen gave some really interesting perspectives based on their research on clinical patient engagement, and I know that West is very involved in helping healthcare organizations in this area, particularly as it relates to solving some of the complex communication challenges that people face when they're trying to deliver effective patient engagement. Naveen referred to the notion of technology-driven consumerism, and I wonder if you could share your point of view on what kind of expectations this is driving in the areas of patient engagement.
Laura: As you know, West has really spent about the last 25 years or so in the consumer engagement arena, really helping some of the world's most trusted brands deliver multi-channel consumer engagement strategies, And, behind that, really innovating some of the underlying technologies that bring those strategies to life. So, for example, we witnessed the explosion onto the scene of mobility, and social media, and customer care, and we actually helped pioneer approaches around taking those difference channels of social media, and mobility, and web, and voice, and really unifying the consumer engagement experience.
Let me just give you an example of that. So today, and this has nothing to do with healthcare yet, but when you call top airlines that we have worked with, you might be recognized based on your phone number, greeted by name, asked whether you're calling about your itinerary that day, and maybe even offered up by the system to receive a text or mobile push message with your flight details. And all of that happening before you ever have to say a word. Then, if you still want to transfer and talk to an agent at the airline to discuss that reservation, your call can be transferred, that agent receives not just your phone call, but also a screen in front of her or him showing who you are, the details of your itinerary, and perhaps the reason why you're calling.
And it's a smart and unified application of all the technologies that support that, that leads to reduced customer efforts, a better, more personalized experience. They are also driving greater operational efficiency. So bringing that back to healthcare, we know that patients are also consumers. And as consumers, these are the kinds of experiences that they're increasingly becoming accustomed to, whether it be their airline, their bank, and so forth. So in a sense, today, health care is really now embarking on various similar moments of truth as it relates to patient engagement. And the bar is being set pretty high. There's a lot of challenges, yes, but also, we think, a lot of opportunities for healthcare organizations to really take some of the learning and certainly a lot of the proven technology that has been honed in retail, travel, banking, etc., and really begin to leverage those in the area of patient engagement. And so, we're starting to see a lot of interest among patient experience executives in these healthcare organizations around what we have done specifically in consumer engagement in other industries. They're very, very interested in that.
Kevin: Laura, the idea of patient engagement is a pretty big concept and I would imagine a difficult thing for many organizations to tackle. And as Naveen mentioned, sometimes more advanced patient engagement gets put on the backseat. What are some ways healthcare organizations can think about getting started in the area of patient engagement? Ways that will drive a compelling business outcome.
Laura: That's a great question, Kevin. And certainly, each healthcare organization that we talk to is unique. They are on their own journey when it comes to patient engagement, and really, we see situations that run the gamut. Some organizations, for example, have already made investments in population health interview platforms. Some of those offered in essence have, what I call, an easy button, by claiming that they deliver integrated patient engagement functionality. And really, only to discover that the patient engagement in that platform consists, very simply, of making outbound communication or outreach, like an appointment reminder. So that organization is quickly going to grow out of.
There's still other organizations that, really, are trying to figure out life beyond the portal, where do I start when it comes to patient engagement? And it can be paralyzing. So our approach, helping organizations get going in the area of patient engagement, is twofold. First, in the role of the trusted adviser, I would say, to help organizations in the area of patient engagement assessment. To really help them understand and give them an opportunity to internally agree on what are the business and clinical goals. Whether improving competitiveness, or creating differentiation, maybe it's reducing re-admission or adding scale and capacity [inaudible 00:06:02] reimbursements, and so on.
And from there, understanding what kind of patient engagement is going to help them achieve those goals, assessing their existing technologies and infrastructure, and helping them understand how to leverage what they already have, and then incremental investments they would need to achieve desired outcomes. And then, of course, a roadmap is really key to success. In our view, all of this are the foundations of starting with something quick and easy, get them a win quickly, help them demonstrate value, and get momentum towards more complex stages. The second piece is to really deliver to our customers specific patient engagement solutions that are tied to and support the move to value-based care, particularly around things like Medicare reimbursement and penalty avoidance.
Kevin: Okay. This is getting interesting. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of those initiatives, and the solutions that tie to them?
Laura: Sure. So if you consider the various touchpoints that patients and members have with their healthcare organizations today, we believe there are four critical areas of opportunity beyond the clinical setting to engage and activate them. And I'm going to touch on just a couple of those here. First is the patient access center or the contact center. And some of these points, this is about taking what you have today, but thinking about it differently. The contact center is often the very front door to the organization. And increasingly, it's a key area of patient engagement focus. So maybe it's expanding access to self-service so that patients can get the information they need more quickly. For example, adding self-service to things like appointment confirmation, rescheduling, or prescription refill requests, and so on. Or, maybe it's making better clinical views a project, whether a sign, tie it to their population health initiative.
There are myriad ways to leverage the contact center channel to drive operational efficiency, to improve the patient experience, and even support clinical initiatives. And we are seeing a lot of interest around our capabilities there. Really, again, kind of going back to what Naveen said around so what do you have in place today around patient engagement, how do think about that differently, how do you leverage it and make it better? The other two areas where we're seeing the key opportunities for outcome-based patient engagement are in the areas of chronic care management, and, of course, care transition.
Now, given the addition this year of the chronic care management reimbursement for Medicare, as well as that elevated penalty for readmission that they just levied, healthcare organizations we are finding are looking for ways to really add scale and capacity to care management and care coordination. And that's really about helping them to more effectively manage patients in these areas. Again, both patients who are in a long-term chronic [inaudible 00:09:12] patient, or those who are going through that very critical 30-day transition of care situation. Now, we have taken many of the consumer engagement technologies that I've talked about earlier and really oriented those towards these areas. And let me give you an example that is sort of in line with the airline example, but it's more healthcare-oriented. So, West has a solution called [inaudible 00:09:36]. And what we do there is we [inaudible 00:09:39] and we apply care plans whereby we can automate certain patient communication around specific protocols.
So for example, that care plan may indicate the patient's [inaudible 00:09:53] blood pressure reading every day, and they need to do it at the same time. Well, with the West solution, that patient has performed that telemonitoring activity either through an automated voice response system, through secure messaging, or even through a remote monitoring device. Now, if that patient forgets to submit that blood pressure reading, the West system is smart enough to realize that, and perhaps trigger a text message to remind them. And by the way, if the patient reports a reading that is out of range, the system can perform decisioning there, and on that reading to immediately determine that it's out of range and transfer them via intelligent call routing to their care coordinator who can escalate that intervention.
And again, similar to that airline example that I gave you earlier, that patient call will be transferred to the coordinator, along with that patient's record, the blood pressure reading that triggered the transfer, and so on. So, again, this is really about unifying the patient engagement experience across all channels. It's about providing patient engagement in a patient's channel of choice, and it's about supporting the communication infrastructure to facilitate getting patients to the right resource at the right time. And by the way, how does this support product care management? All of this activity, all of this communication I just described to you, not only is it unified, so it all counts towards that 20 minutes of non-face-to-face chronic care management so providers can be eligible for that new Medicare reimbursement.
Kevin: Laura, we're just about out of time. But before I let you go, I wanted to ask you one last question, related to something that Naveen talked about as well, and that has to do with IT resources. Certainly, IT has a lot on their plate: meaningful use, EMR optimization, inoperability, just to name a few. With the kinds of patient engagement projects you discussed, how does West help organizations achieve success in light of this limited IT bandwidth?
Laura: Kevin, thank you for asking that. We certainly know that IT organizations across all business cycles have been dealing [inaudible 00:12:06] for a while now. In healthcare, perhaps this issue is more [inaudible 00:12:11]. Again, [inaudible 00:12:10] are dealing with a very broad range of challenges, including complex regulatory ones, as we know. So 15 to 20 years ago, IT organizations really felt like they wanted to own everything, and that was fine. But, as you know, in recent years, there's really been this emergence of the concept of the feeling of becoming more as the broker of IT services, and really no longer seeing the complete business value or even having the bandwidth of owning every single piece of technology needed to support the business.
So, in response to that, many years ago West began battle-hardening our client-based solution so that we could deliver them in a fully hosted and a fully managed way. And whenever we can, we seek to leverage an organization's existing communication investments, their existing infrastructure, and perhaps most importantly, bringing together some pretty deep internal expertise and doing complex system integration, to drive more personal patient engagement solutions, including the tricky EMR innovations that are often a part of that. So, again, taking the pressure off of IT, but enabling them to support the business and deliver these very robust patient engagement solutions with or without a massive amount of IT effort.
Kevin: That's Laura Bramschreiber, vice president of marketing strategy at West Corporation Healthcare Practice. Laura, it's been great speaking with you today.
Laura: Thanks, Kevin, look forward to talking to you again soon.
Kevin: Thanks, Laura. You can find out more about the West Corporation Healthcare Practice by visiting west.com, and download the report on clinical patient engagement at chilmarkresearch.com. That'll do it for this episode of Healthcare Perspectives, brought to you by the West Corporation Healthcare Practice. For more information visit west.com, and join us next time when we continue to explore strategies and tactics to improve patient engagement and activation across the care continuum. I'm Kevin Crane for West Corporation Healthcare Practice. Thanks for listening.