Digital Adoption in Healthcare: The Key to Less Waste, Better Outcomes
Waste is a chronic problem in the US healthcare system. By some estimates, nearly one-third of healthcare spending fails to produce positive patient outcomes.
Healthcare expenditures rose to $3.65 trillion in 2018. When you consider that the US spends the most on healthcare, yet patient outcomes consistently rank among the lowest of the developed nations, the need for a remedy becomes paramount.
Population health management: The solution for less waste, better outcomes
Let’s zoom in on the provider level, where waste can cost you hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a year, not to mention valuable time and resources. On top of that, as reimbursement models shift away from fee-for-service and into the realm of value-based care, improving outcomes at lower costs is a top priority.
The need to find an effective and sustainable solution has led many health systems to population health management.
By better utilizing patient data, empowering patients to take a proactive role in their healthcare, and reducing reliance on emergency services, you can dramatically improve outcomes while reducing waste and redundancies.
Population health management sounds good in theory, but its success hinges on one factor that most healthcare leaders fail to recognize: digital adoption.
Digital adoption in healthcare is the first step in PHM
Successful population health management (PHM) requires the strategic coordination of a lot of moving parts.
By collecting and analyzing patient data, improving coordination among providers, and equipping patients with the right tools, PHM enables health systems to increase disease prevention and improve clinical outcomes in target populations.
It creates the potential to drastically lower the cost of disease management, reduce the prevalence of chronic conditions, and improve care quality.
However, all of these positive outcomes are contingent on digital adoption — both on the provider side and the patient side. Digital adoption in healthcare is two-sided.
Digital adoption on EHRs is a critical milestone
The first step to building a PHM framework is turning patient data into actionable insights. But even with a sophisticated analytics system, flawed patient data in the electronic health records (EHR) system puts a low ceiling on your potential.
For most health systems, this is a major challenge that stems from a lack of usability on the EHR.
EHRs are complex, non-intuitive, and a notorious source of “digital fatigue.” Clinicians who struggle to use the EHR efficiently often enter inaccurate or incomplete data. In the short-term, data errors can complicate treatment and coordination of care, on top of causing errors in billing and collections.
In the long-term, the data that should inform PHM initiatives lacks accuracy and doesn’t give clinicians all of the information they need to inform treatment and prevention plans.
Before even thinking about how to better coordinate care or equip patients with tools to support PHM, you must address the digital adoption challenge at this stage of data input.
Unless nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers can easily and accurately enter patient data into the EHR, all subsequent actions that rely on such data will be compromised.
Patient participation is contingent on usability
On the other side of the coin, patient engagement is fundamental to PHM success.
To truly make these efforts work, you need to achieve a shift in attitudes and behaviors. Instead of being passive recipients of hospital services, patients must become proactive self-advocates in their own treatment plans.
Practically speaking, patients must be willing to take steps independently at home and within the community, such as using at-home medical tests, trackers, and patient portals to monitor their health.
But unless they can easily use the required tools, patients will never make these necessary shifts.
Without digital adoption, they will become frustrated and disengaged in their treatment plans. On top of diminished participation, the patients will struggle to accurately input medical information and communicate with providers.
A Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) as the lynchpin to success
Digital solutions that increase usability on the EHR, as well as patient-facing tools, are the key to population health management success.
WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) enables digital adoption by providing real-time, on-screen guidance so all users can efficiently complete processes on any system, regardless of prior experience or training. It uses algorithms to learn and understand a user’s goals and proactively deploys support prompts so they are never left unsure of what to do.
When used on an EHR, a DAP will ensure that clinicians always input patient information clearly and don’t skip fields. It helps you ensure data integrity, a fundamental component of building effective disease management and prevention programs.
Another important benefit of digital adoption is less user frustration.
Today, clinicians lament EHRs for click fatigue, their lack of an intuitive interface, and interfering with patient interactions. But if the process for entering patient information is easy and fast, they can be confident about accuracy while providing patients with more attention and better care.
The DAP’s navigational guidance and onscreen support is essential to ensuring patients can easily and efficiently complete processes on their at-home tools.
Beyond improving usability, the DAP also enables self-service, which is intrinsic to the success of any PHM initiative.
Increasing independence and reducing reliance on in-person medical visits and services is central to PHM. Self-service technology supports this goal by empowering patients to take control of managing treatment and prevention.
Digital adoption in healthcare is fundamental to reducing waste
Population health management is good for patients and hospitals. Done right, it has the potential to reduce chronic conditions, prevent disease, lower medical expenditures, and lift the strain on hospitals.
But without digital adoption, PHM is merely an idealistic vision. Ensuring full usability on software — for both clinicians and patients — is the essential first step.