Posted by Mike Fontana on 22 Jul 2014
I was in a meeting with several CEOs from hospitals of various sizes and locations. A question I had asked them during the meeting was how important did they think it was for their organizations to engage their patients - how (face-to-face or various remote options), when (increase hours of availability) and where (office, institution, home or online). They all indicated both verbally and with their body language that it was very important. The next question I was going to ask was how many of them were actually doing so, but I refrained.
With so much on their individual plates, my expectation was that they knew this was important, but getting to where they wanted and needed to be was not that easy. With all of the requirements and effects from legislation including the Affordable Care Act and HITECH, as well as working with their boards of directors and in distinct communities, they were getting pushed to make changes such as increase connectivity and treatment options. But also were not sure how they were going to meet requirements and be successful in making the necessary cultural, IT, financial and process improvements.
I have spoken about the new consumer and what their interests in this blog previously. There is an understanding that consumers are different by their very nature (individuals, who would have guessed) and have unique wants and needs and expect to access the healthcare system in different ways. We often look at our workplaces and see the mix of baby boomers, generation x, and the millennial group. Their attitudes, wants, needs and expectations are not the same, and dealing with individual consumer patients is not any different.
Therefore, the consumer patient must be asked what their wants and needs are both clinically and administratively. Having choices for the new consumer in how they want to access the system and services during various points in time in order to meet the outcomes they are interested in is very important. A give and take communications with the new consumer at the center. But with this choice comes individual responsibility. The providers, payer, pharmaceuticals and others serving the patient can create multiple options for the consumer to engage and meet clinical adherence levels that individuals are in agreement to, but the consumer must be aware that they need to be an active, responsible participant in the process.
With that, having multiple solutions which directly engage or support the various ways and levels that healthcare organizations want and need to make available to their patients, whether it is clinical, or data information or payments or other services, it is important to understand that it is made with a diverse, consumer-centric population in mind.