As discussed at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Las Vegas in August 2021, the ongoing pandemic has accelerated the use of healthcare technology – particularly telehealth and remote patient monitoring – furthering the trend toward patient-centered care.
According to the website Healthcarefinancenews.com, Tania Elliott, chief medical officer for virtual care, clinical and network services at Ascension Health in St. Louis, told the gathering that her use of telehealth during the outbreak has opened her eyes to its possibilities. She described it as “a modern-day house call,” and noted that it increases access to care for those in remote areas.
The efficiency of such technology cannot be overstated. Another example would be the use of Vis-a-Vis Health by the Allure Group, a network of six New York City-based skilled nursing facilities. Discharged patients are supplied with hand-held devices that enable two-way communication with healthcare professionals and make it possible for patient data to be tracked.
The bottom line, again, is that the patient is more engaged, more involved in his or her own care. Chris Marsh, vice president of engineering at Utah-based SR Health, told the HIMSS conference that increasing patient engagement leads to improved outcomes and lower costs. At the same time, he sounded a cautionary note:
“You have to create an on-ramp to processing this information and turning it actionable. And it must include the patient voice. Sometimes there’s so much uncertainty in what the outcome is going to be. You must be willing to make that investment. Unifying it can be difficult for organizations. It’s not understood in the same way we understand other investments we can make in the hospital.”
That is where certain key patient metrics come into play. There are three, in particular, that warrant organizations’ attention: patient-reported outcomes (PROs), patient-generated health data (PGHD) and patient experience data.
Here is a breakdown as to what each of those metrics entails:
- Patient experience data: Measures patients’ satisfaction with every aspect of the care journey, from the ability to arrange appointments to the communications with healthcare professionals, etc. Can be assessed through surveys and the like.
- Patient-reported outcomes: The impact on patients of a treatment or service, as measured by factors like pain level, fatigue, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Again, surveys are invaluable in determining just how well the patient believes he or she is progressing.
- Patient-generated health data: Encompasses not only the two previous measures but patients’ medical histories, data gleaned from wearables, and the like and lifestyle choices.
The challenge in collecting data, particularly that related to patient experience and outcomes, is determining what questions must be asked, and what populations they must be asked of. There is simply no time-efficient way to ask everything of everyone, so it is essential to drill down and get to the heart of the matter, to focus on exactly what information it is that you’re seeking.
But again, technology is essential to this process. Wearables and monitoring tools can make the process more efficient. As Marsh said at the HIMSS conference, it is vital that this information be captured and sustained. That is how invaluable insights are attained and the best possible outcomes ensured.