Adventist Health implemented provider search functionality into its patient portal, supporting patients in healthcare consumerism.
For Adventist Health, the patient portal is turning into something like a personal shopper for healthcare. As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the industry’s already breakneck-speed move toward healthcare consumerism, Adventist’s patient portal is doing more than just offering patient data access; it’s helping patients shop for care.
This twist comes as more patients are bearing the financial responsibility for their healthcare costs. When high-deductible health plans became more prevalent ten or so years ago, patients began to assume more of their healthcare bills. And with that, they assumed the role of not just the patient, but as the payer.
At the same time, patients saw a transformation in the consumer experience in other services sectors they frequented. The boom of Amazon Prime and online banking made patients want services fast, easy, and effortless. And being the payers for their own healthcare, they wanted the same when they visited the doctor, too.
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But that’s usually not the case, according to Lauren Davis, the system director of Digital Marketing and Consumer Strategy at Adventist Health.
“Technology, service and experience trends in other industries have raised consumer expectations dramatically in the last decade,” Davis said in an email to PatientEngagementHIT. “Healthcare as an industry hasn’t kept up for consumers, and they are losing their patience.”
“At its core, this is about empowerment and choice,” she continued. “Consumers tend to want to be as in control of their experience as they can be, and they want their experience to be connected, personalized, efficient and easy at every turn.”
Most patients don’t get the experience Davis described. Although research shows more and more patients are searching online to find a provider, this process is proving more difficult than they bargained for. Patients aren’t able to easily find the information they are looking for, and especially not in a format that lets them compare different provider options.
“When consumers are searching for a provider, they often have a difficult time finding accurate information online,” Davis explained. “Common questions such as patient ratings, availability, insurance accepted and even specialty can conflict on listing sites and search engines on the web.”
Adventist wanted to be part of the solution, proving it could pivot in this rising tide of healthcare consumerism that has only become stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis noted.
“With personal health top of mind and an increased reliance on digital tools, patients are motivated to engage with their care team and try new care delivery tools such as AI-driven symptom checkers, virtual assistants and synchronous and asynchronous virtual care with their doctor,” she said.
Other sources have reported the same, suggesting not only that patients are increasingly concerned about their overall wellness, but that the pandemic’s financial fallout is making it more important than ever to get low-cost care.
Patients are specifically looking for providers with good ratings, low costs, and who are within the patient’s payer network to access care, research conducted since the pandemic outbreak have shown.
Adventist implemented guided provider search as its first step to meet this moment in healthcare, embedding technology from Kyruus directly into the patient portal using the Cerner Consumer Framework. The Framework, which Cerner unveiled in 2019, leverages application programming interfaces (APIs) to plug third-party apps like Kyruus into the patient portal.
“Ultimately, we are looking at the consumer’s complete journey to identify processes and experiences that could be better designed to meet these modern expectations,” Davis noted. “The powerful potential is that if we can empower a consumer throughout the care experience, we believe they will be far more engaged in their health. That personal engagement is what can really transform individual and community well-being.”
Again, these goals have become even more salient during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has proved something of a use case for the patient portal, as more providers are pushing remote patient care and patients themselves want answers to their health.
This is a far cry from what the patient portal used to be. Just a year ago, the portal enjoyed broad provider adoption, but patients were slow to come to the technology. Although over 90 percent of hospitals and providers gave patients the option to use the patient portal, meaningful patient engagement wasn’t happening.
Most experts agreed that was because the patient portal wasn’t able to offer much beyond patient data access, or else it wasn’t exactly being promoted as such. And at the same time, third-party, niche patient engagement apps cropped up across the industry. As providers adopted those, it gave a piecemeal feel to the patient engagement suite.
The patient portal is starting to integrate key patient functionalities—like the provider search Adventist just installed—and it could help bring patients to the portal as a centralized engagement platform.
“We already integrated the COVID-19 symptom checker, provider search and online scheduling; and we are working to include other solutions such as a transparent and empowered financial experience,” Davis explained. “It’s an interface that is getting better every day as we work with Cerner on enhancements, new functionalities and more intuitive interfaces.”
These virtual offerings will likely only become more important as healthcare stares down the “twindemic” of both COVID-19 and flu season. According to Davis, having a patient portal with multiple capabilities for engaging and connect with patients will help Adventist mitigate this problem.
“With the magnified risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and the flu, we have been communicating with consumers about the importance of the flu vaccine so that they are proactive about getting the flu shot,” she concluded.
“In addition, we launched a new virtual care platform in the MyAdventistHealth patient portal to provide a seamless patient experience, which reduces the need for patients to leave home during the pandemic and flu season. We continue to work quickly to reduce barriers and increase access to care.”
Source: Patient Engagementhit