Patient Engagement Platforms: Building on the right foundation

February 20, 2020 Off By Dante Filyaw

Day by day the typical healthcare patient is becoming more accustomed to the efficiency they experience in other industries’ self-service tools. They are easily able to schedule most everything with the click of a button be it an oil change, a dinner reservation, or seats to a movie they want to see. Yet there are still solutions in healthcare that don’t offer what would be an expected self-service tool or more commonly they offer it in a way that is inefficient for an organization to use and thus the organization doesn’t use it all. This has caused healthcare organizations to rely on third-party solutions to facilitate their offering. This piece-mealed approach is so common that often times health organizations will have a separate solution for most everything (e.g., patient scheduling software, patient appointment reminders, patient online bill pay, secure patient messaging and patient intake) and at times more than one patient engagement platform for the same feature. Not only does this create a poor patient experience, it also has a negative effect on an organization’s branding and more often than not it results in high licensing fees to maintain the multiple solutions.

Where do we go from here? With healthcare organizations looking at what would be the next step moving forward, many organizations are turning their focus away from singular solutions and instead focusing on patient engagement platforms. The idea is that these platforms can act as a “single pane of glass” for the patient allowing them to find, schedule and access care. Meanwhile, on the backend the platform is consolidating, aggregating and filtering data from multiple systems via different interface types (HL7, API, FHIR). 

Is there a product capable of doing all of that or do I need something custom built? The sad truth is that more often than not there isn’t a one size fits all product that can meet the needs of most healthcare organizations off the shelf. Every organization has its own complexities, workflows and source systems. Should an organization go down the pre-built route, they shouldn’t be looking for a product but rather a platform. The word platform in of itself often implies that it’s not a finished product but rather a foundation with which to develop a product that suits your organization. Third-party patient portals, such as Bridge Patient Portal, often act as a great patient engagement platform or foundation for patient engagement. Their patient engagement platform is able to consolidate data from multiple sources, patient-match and allow for customization as well as the addition of new features. There are also mHealth app platforms that come with a set of pre-built features and allow organizations to drastically reduce their time to market. Similarly, for custom builds, organizations should have the platform concept in mind. Healthcare and technology are ever-changing, as such, solutions must be able to adapt and scale as needed. A custom build that serves the present moment need with no ability to adapt for the future needs is doomed for failure.