Veteran healthcare IT executive shares patient portal experience from
his trip to the ER
BOXFORD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–When a shoulder-first tumble onto the sidewalk turned Iatric Systems
President Frank Fortner into an emergency department patient at the
local hospital, he quickly found himself face-to-face with one of
healthcare’s greatest challenges – patient engagement.
The emergency department and orthopedist’s office separately emailed
Frank with instructions on how to enroll in their patient portals.
Between discharge instructions, portal instructions and painkillers
kicking in, Frank, like many patients, decided to do nothing except rest
and begin the process of letting his profoundly separated shoulder heal.
What hit Frank the hardest, other than the pain, was the realization
that everyone might be overlooking the quickest fix to getting patients
to access portals as prescribed by Meaningful Use for
view/download/transmit (VDT) requirements.
Providers appear to be doing the right things to engage patients.
Hospitals have marketed their portals, distributed brochures,
implemented additional staff for portal enrollment and training.
Overall, hospitals have put forth a great effort, at no small expense,
to encourage portal usage.
So the question remains, “Have we as an industry completely missed the
mark with patient portals, or are we simply using the wrong technology?”
“With today’s culture and technology, I believe the better patient
engagement strategy is the use of smartphones and ‘push’ technology to
actively engage patients where they live, work and play. All day long,
smartphone users feel the familiar buzz of their device and read the
notification of the moment. So why not feel that same buzz and see that
you have a new report – click to view – and take a few seconds to view
it,” Fortner said. “All of that might take a few seconds, integrated
into your daily routine and still add a point on the scoreboard for VDT.
Once this type of communication becomes commonplace, it would only
scratch the surface in terms of how providers and patients can engage
While a natural retort might be, “Not everyone has a smartphone,” the
Pew Research Center in a December 2014 survey found that 64 percent of
Americans own smartphones, and a growing number of people use their
smartphones for Internet access. Add to that the plethora of customized
apps for smartphones, and the hand-held devices seem to be, at the very
least, a bridge to help healthcare cross the patient-engagement chasm.
There will always be obstacles to progress. Frank landed in the
emergency room because he couldn’t avoid his personal obstacle – a
rambunctious 2-year-old Lab mix named George who spilled Frank onto the
sidewalk. But Frank believes the healthcare industry can zig and zag its
way to better patient-engagement outcomes.
“I believe the market is starting to figure out that smartphones can be
the de facto patient engagement technology. It should take months, not
years, until we see a number of mobile, active patient engagement type
applications that meet the spirit of Meaningful Use, but exceed today’s
results,” Fortner said. “Even incumbent portals, in order to keep market
share, will likely offer companion products for those who want the
push-type smartphone experience. I can tell you, a mobile application
would have made a big difference in my case. If, for example, I had the
option to enroll my mobile device during those four hours in the ED, I
would have done so out of boredom alone – or at least to take my mind
off the pain. Today, I would have my imaging report, diagnosis and
electronic discharge instructions in my pocket and available for the
Frank’s personal patient-engagement experience was so motivating he
decided to make it the first topic of an occasional blog in which he
will share his thoughts and perspectives on a variety of healthcare
industry issues. Frank’s blog can be found on the Iatric Systems website
About Iatric Systems
Healthcare is a complex and highly regulated industry with data spread
across multiple systems and technologies, meaning decisions are made
every day without complete information readily available. Iatric Systems
is a healthcare technology company dedicated to leveraging our
integration expertise to provide healthcare organizations with products
and services that bring the right data to the right people at the right
time. In our 25-year history, we have delivered more than 25,000
interfaces and integration solutions to more than 1,300 healthcare
organizations. This integration experience helps healthcare
organizations make more informed decisions critical to improving
patients’ health and organizations’ fiscal stability. For more
information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.iatric.com.
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