Article

Patient engagement: Make patient experience intuitive and valuable

Ram Rajagopalan , Antriksh Singh , Vinoth Srinivasan & John Geraghty
Published: June 23, 2021

According to An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases, nearly half (approximately 45%, or 133 million) of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, and the number is growing. These diseases, including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity, among others, can lead to poor patient outcomes, often resulting in hospitalization, long-term disability, poor quality of life, and even death. 

If you’re in the healthcare industry, chances are your organization is trying to answer these important questions:

  • How to get valuable insights into the daily challenges faced by patients with chronic diseases?
  • How to proactively engage with patients who are likely to be impacted due to chronic conditions and health risk profile?
  • How to help them overcome their challenges and easily navigate through a complex healthcare system?
  • How to assist them in gaining a sense of confidence by maintaining their health conditions and personalized engagement experience?
  • How to enable your team to achieve excellent results using big data analytics and intelligent automation?

Improved patient engagement in healthcare is the answer to these questions. As the healthcare industry transitions into a value-based care system, providers strive to enhance patient engagement. Being the linchpin of Healthcare Organizations (HCOs), patients should drive engagement and improve operational strategy. Patients engaged in their care tend to be happier, healthier, and experience better health outcomes. Published evidence
proves that patient engagement improves health and clinical outcomes, drives preferences, and reduces health costs. 

The challenges and current stance

An intuitive patient experience focuses on building trust, helps identify chronic disease risk early, promotes awareness and behavior change, and improves outcomes. Despite advances in the patient experience, patients, payers, providers, and device companies continue to face challenges managing chronic diseases like diabetes. 

Patients are unaware of the dangers payers and providers face when tasked with directing the right amount of effort for chronic conditions. Payers and providers must create maximum impact for patient care and savings for the organization.

Let’s take a closer look at why it’s difficult to manage a chronic disease like diabetes. Patients with chronic diabetes can experience: 

  1. Rapidly declining quality of life – Diabetes creates many complications for patients. Some complications make everyday activities a challenge. These patients rely more on their payers to meet their needs and prevent a further decline in quality of life. 
     
  2. Reducing life expectancy – Chronic diabetes leads to comorbidities that rapidly decline patient’s quality of life and reduce life expectancy. Payers need to gather insights from the patient engagement process to increase life expectancy and enhance quality of life. 
     
  3. Double-digit increase in the cost of care – It is estimated by the American Diabetes Association that approximately $16,752 per year is spent on each chronic diabetes patient. With early diagnosis and better engagement, payers can reduce the amount spent each year. 
     
  4. Exponential growth in comorbidity – Other chronic conditions such as obesity, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) may develop, making the management of diabetes even more challenging.

Therefore, a new patient engagement approach will provide the support required to enhance patients' overall experience, identify key data points, and engage the member on a new level. 

The future of patient engagement 2.0 

Engaging patients increases satisfaction, increases retention rate, and enhances care quality with fee-for-service and value-based care models. Yet healthcare organizations have a long way to go to build a comprehensive strategy that can strengthen their existing infrastructure and support patient care. 

However, as the healthcare landscape changes and specific market drivers get implemented, companies can begin to create patient engagement. There are different levels of engagement and each payer, provider, and device company are at a different maturity level when it comes to creating value out of patient data and engaging with them. 

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If an organization is at level one of two, there is business value that can be unlocked by leveraging patient engagement. Organizations that are at maturity level three and above can identify high-risk population groups and take preventive action. They are thus more into proactive wellness than reactive care. A high-level patient maturity platform tracks the dynamic risk profile for all patients/members by monitoring all data sources, including wearables, Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), and consumer data and marrying them with clinical and claims information.  

A level three patient engagement platform leverages autonomous engagement strategies to drive efficiencies and high-touch service to avoid high-cost episodes. A patient is supported with timely and relatable engagement to keep him or her at the lower risk tier. Any changes in his or her condition, physiological, and psychological parameters are recognized, and the engagement strategy is modified. 

As companies move to level 4 and 5, they offer deeper interactions with their customers and ultimately, at level 5, create a rewards-benefit situation. At level 5, patients receive tangible rewards, that span beyond the benefit of good health. What’s in it for me (WIIFM) is crystal clear resulting in stickiness for the programs.

How to build an effective patient engagement journey? 

Patient journey and personalized engagement with the above model will help payers win when it comes to patient care. This is the time to engage in the digital world and integrate solutions to make your care management and monitoring efficient and effective.

The maturity platform engagement is a foundational approach, where payers should design a comprehensive strategy to close the care gaps depending on automation tools and cognitive therapy. Insurance companies can witness dramatic improvements with the maturity approach to increase patient engagement using: 

  • Data lake (Full member data)
    Leverage all existing knowledge member claims,clinical and external data to build comprehensive and valuable  member data store.
     
  • Incentives management (Gamification and crypto rewards)
    Gamification and crypto rewards assess risk through one quadrillion dimension and identify individuals not currently at high risk but are predicted to be high risk.
     
  • Data science and analytics services (Intelligent patient identification models)
    Enables successful interventions by delivering appropriate, timely, actionable interventions through the optimal channel in the short-term while gamifying engagement for long-term impact. 
     
  • CRM platform (Personalized patient engagement and care management)
    Aligns and prioritizes interventions based on individual risk factors gleaned from clinical, socio-economic, and consumer data.

Identify current maturity level for appropriate engagement process

The patient engagement model creates opportunities to fundamentally change the relationship of payers and members to help them improve their length and quality of life. With effective patient engagement, every penny invested results in cost savings. As per industry research, higher engagement leads to higher patient satisfaction, estimating that about a $1 investment leads to $5 in returns.

The new engagement model is focused on proactive care with early identification and intervention to manage healthcare costs. Implementing the right model by investing at the right time, to use intervention, messaging, channels, and rewards can influence patients' ability to engage more with the healthcare system, leading to better patient experiences and outcomes. According to the Assessing the Financial Value of Patient Engagement study, it also reveals that health systems/hospitals with better performance invests more in patient engagement. 

Creating a better provider-patient relationship and giving patients the ability to manage their health increases engagement.  

Engaged patients can:

  • Promote healthcare quality scores
  • Improve brand loyalty
  • Prevent health risks with early identification of chronic conditions
  • Increase revenue
  • Help control costs
  • Become promoters for your company

Fostering a sense of engagement with patients/members can provide multiple benefits for your organization. The increased patient retention alone is enough for companies to take notice. Take time to determine which maturity level you fall under and leverage patient engagement effectively.

Ram Rajagopalan

Ram Rajagopalan

Senior Director - Med Device Industry Solutions Head

Ram heads the medical device and diagnostic industry solutions at Virtusa. He uses strategy and tactics to deliver on value-added solutions via in-house expertise, partnerships, and shared objectives. He is responsible for developing innovative strategies to expand the life science business at Virtusa.

John Geraghty

John Geraghty

Senior Director-Client Services

With over 27 years of experience in patient care, IT integration, operations, and financial leadership, John is a healthcare industry expert specializing in finding unique approaches to solving complex clinical and operational challenges. John began his career with four years as an ICU nurse in Academic Medical Centers. He has spent the past 23 years as a consultant driving business outcomes for payer, provider, and life science clients.

Vinoth Srinivasan

Vinoth Srinivasan

Principal Data Architect – Healthcare and Life Sciences

Vinoth Srinivasan has over 15 years of experience specializing in data platform modernization, big data and analytics, data lakes, AI/ML, data engineering, master data management, and data governance with a strong focus on customer success. In his current role, he is helping our healthcare and life sciences clients on their strategic data initiatives, transformation programs, and data solutions to run businesses at scale.

Antriksh Singh

Antriksh Singh

Associate Manager-Business Consulting

Antriksh is a healthcare consultant with over 11 years of experience in process mapping and design, gap analysis, and design thinking. At Virtusa, he belongs to the business consulting practice, assisting top executives in creating Go-To-Market (GTM) strategies and solutions for healthcare and life science clients.

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