EHRs have revolutionized the delivery of care, allowing healthcare organizations to document clinical encounters and more easily manage patient records. However, as patients continue to become more active and involved in their care, EHR providers are feeling the pressure to evolve their systems to be more consumer-centric.
In a perfect world, patients could easily access the data they need to manage their care directly from their provider’s EHR, and EHR companies would have the capabilities to deliver patient engagement solutions that make transparent exchange of information between patient and provider.
A persistent barrier to the flow of information between providers and patients is that EHRs were not originally developed to support patient engagement as a core function. Still, EHRs need to provide patient engagement tools to their customers so they can more easily keep pace with changing patient care expectations.
Today, patients expect to have the tools to communicate directly with their healthcare provider about all aspects of their care, including scheduling appointments and accessing health records. Healthcare organizations have also changed. Where they once relied on phone calls and paper records, they now use secure messaging and digital workflows.
Patient engagement tools and features are the missing link between EHRs, providers, and patients. And, patient engagement is constantly evolving, making it a moving target for EHR companies looking to bridge the gap between patients and their health information. EHRs have only two choices: develop patient engagement tools in-house or collaborate with a patient engagement partner.
Build engagement solutions in-house
Building patient engagement solutions in-house may initially seem like an attractive go-to-market strategy for EHR vendors. However, many quickly realize that this is an inefficient and expensive business.
Building even a minimally viable patient engagement offering requires significant development resources and can easily take much longer than expected. In addition, the cost to get these solutions off the ground is exorbitant and often underestimated.
EHR vendors also need to recognize that they are not experts in patient engagement, which can lead to unforeseen difficulties and inefficiencies when trying to develop these products in-house.
Patient engagement isn’t a one-size-fits-all business either. Patient needs and the technology required to meet those needs will continue to evolve over time, requiring constant innovation. EHR companies must be willing to commit future resources to the products they develop in-house. However, many find this waste of time and money to be a diversion away from the company’s core product offering.
Partnerships for long-term benefits
Instead of trying to build solutions in-house, collaborating with a patient engagement technology provider is the easiest and most cost-effective way to provide the communication link demanded by the healthcare consumer of today.
EHR companies that work with a patient engagement partner realize a number of benefits:
- Speed to market. The partnership eliminates the need for EHR vendors to develop, test and QA in-house solutions. This means it’s possible to be up and running with patient engagement in a fraction of the time, with far less risk.
- Cost savings. It is estimated that development costs for a minimally viable patient engagement offering can approach $10 million, while maintenance, development, data center, and product security costs can approach $2 million. dollars per year. In contrast, partnering with a patient engagement company typically requires an investment of around $750,000 per year.
- Focus on basic skills. Companies that focus exclusively on patient engagement can help ensure that EHR vendors stay on the cutting edge of innovative technology, while remaining focused on their core product.
- Increase customer loyalty. Healthcare organizations need loyalty from their patients, and patients who have access to modern, convenient patient engagement tools are more likely to remain loyal to their practitioners. Increased patient and provider satisfaction with patient engagement services reflects positively on the EHR provider and makes their product more attractive within the industry.
- Interoperability Opportunities. EHR vendors typically offer more than one product, and large healthcare organizations often use disparate EHRs. Integrated patient engagement solutions can foster interoperability between EHRs by providing the same patient and provider experience across the enterprise, working with multiple EHR platforms at the same time, and streamlining engagement workflows patients.
As the relationship between healthcare organizations and patients evolves, the tools they use to bridge the communication link between provider and patient must also evolve. EHR vendors that partner with a company that specializes in patient engagement can meet today’s market demands while positioning themselves to quickly and cost-effectively bring tomorrow’s patient engagement solutions to market.
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