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 Thought Leaders

Patients seek meaningful use, too

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   By Ryan Sorrels and Theresa McGillvray-Dodd, September 2010

Providers can create a competitive advantage and increase the potential for a successful EHR implementation by directly involving the patient.

sorrels-doddAs providers race to accomplish "meaningful use" by the impending deadlines, attention is generally focused on integration, back-end processes and IT infrastructure. While this is certainly understandable given the effort that must take place in these areas, the patient's perspective is often overlooked.

Despite the industry's focus on the ultimate benefits electronic health records (EHRs) provide, consumer support for the technology remains relatively low. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, only 26 percent of respondents said they want their medical records digitized and only 40 percent believe they will result in more efficient care delivery. Providers can create a competitive advantage and increase the potential for a successful EHR implementation by directly involving the patient.

With this approach, hospitals and other providers can minimize the trepidation by giving consumers the ability to personalize their healthcare experience and be more active participants in their care. Through the use of patient-facing technologies, including self-service kiosks, patient portals and personal health records, providers can both expedite EHR utilization and optimize their benefits.

Beginning at check in, patients can utilize kiosks to electronically enter and verify demographic information, sign consent forms and complete health-related questionnaires. Electronically capturing data at check in and ensuring the data flows seamlessly to an EHR creates a truly paperless work flow. Additionally, involving the patient at the front end increases data accuracy, reduces paperwork and minimizes the potential for error. This same information can also be used to populate personal health records, giving patients greater access to the resources they need to better manage their health.

With the growth of consumerism, traditional models of interacting with patients through paper processes will not be sustainable over the long term. Technology has redefined how consumers interact with their banks, airlines and retailers. With numerous options for conducting a variety of routine, everyday tasks in other industries, patients are now seeking the same level of speed and convenience from their healthcare providers.

Giving patients the option to utilize kiosks, portals and mobile phone applications not only helps hospitals and practices to meet this growing patient demand, but it also helps them to build loyalty and establish a competitive advantage. According to a 2010 survey of healthcare consumers conducted by Buzzback Research, 79 percent of respondents are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that gives them the option to manage various elements of the healthcare experience — such as appointment scheduling, registration and bill payment — over the Internet, on a mobile device or at a self-service kiosk.

Beyond greater convenience, patients also desire tools and services that enable them to receive test results, review information on health conditions and interact with their providers. By linking EHR systems to a personal health record that patients can easily access via the Web, healthcare providers can empower patients with the information needed to make more-informed care decisions.

A seamless, end-to-end electronic approach also helps to establish a comfort level with the use of electronic data in the healthcare setting. At a time when many patients remain skeptical about the privacy and security of their health information, patient-facing technologies promote greater transparency and understanding of how their health information is captured and where it will be used throughout the care process. While traditional paper-based processes can make patients feel detached from the treatment they receive, patient-facing technologies immediately engage patients at check in and set the tone for a care process that actively engages them at every step of the way.

Ryan Sorrels is channel director at NCR Healthcare and Theresa McGillvray-Dodd is marketing manager for NCR services at Siemens.
For more information on Siemens solutions:
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