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Health Orgs Look for Consolidated Patient Engagement Tech Footprint

Patient engagement technology vendors will need to respond to a growing push for consumer-centered solutions for healthcare organizations.

Patient engagement technology vendors can expect a shifting landscape as their customer base looks toward a more consolidated, consumer-centered patient engagement strategy, according to the latest KLAS report on patient engagement.

The report, obtained via email, showed that patient engagement is top of mind for organizations looking to boost the patient experience and increase volumes.

The push for better patient engagement is reminiscent of previous years when organizations highlighted a need for more patient-centricity, but in talking to 93 different healthcare organizations about their current patient engagement needs, KLAS found that patient engagement goals are changing.

Orgs Shift Patient Engagement Priorities

In the past, organizations have framed patient engagement as a means to achieve an organization-centric end. That means making patient engagement investments that help organizations meet regulatory requirements, implementing point solutions, and adopting technology to replace manual processes. Organizations said patient engagement tools felt like a burden to their providers.

But today, patient engagement investment is focused on patient-centered outcomes and driven by consumer best practices. Organizations want to adopt platforms with multiple capabilities that are all deeply integrated.

For example, a patient portal with multiple functionalities or tools that meet the patient where they are outside of the facility, like telehealth and remote patient monitoring tools. According to respondents, patient engagement tools are seen as support for providers looking to create an optimal patient experience.

This comes as organizations also focus on patient loyalty, the KLAS report continued.

Overall, healthcare organizations are looking to improve patient access and ensure strong patient volumes. This means attracting new patients, retaining existing patients, reducing no-shows, and filling last-minute cancellations.

To do that, organizations need to ease the patient access process for the consumer, respondents indicated.

Nearly half (48 percent) are therefore investing in access and digital front door experiences over the next year or two, while a quarter plan to optimize the patient journey. A fifth is investing in physician efficiencies and patient-provider communication modalities.

“Additionally, recognizing the clinician’s role in creating a positive patient experience, organizations are focused on solving clinician efficiency and patient communication challenges,” the KLAS report authors wrote. “As organizations invest in solving these challenges, they have reported potential barriers such as patients without access to proper technology as well as struggles with practitioners opening their schedules to allow for self-scheduling.”

Notably, organizations are setting their sites on the areas where they need the most improvement: provider search, self-scheduling, and self-registration. Now that patient portals, patient experience surveys, and telehealth have become nearly ubiquitous, KLAS indicated that these self-service tools are the next frontier.

Assessing the Patient Engagement Vendor Landscape

These shifting healthcare organization priorities will have an impact on the patient engagement vendor landscape as organizations consider the partnerships that will support their current and future goals.

Right now, the most commonly used patient engagement technology vendor is Epic, with 63 percent of respondents reporting use. This is likely driven by Epic’s patient portal, MyChart, which regularly scores as the Best in KLAS for all patient portals, although the vendor offers other engagement platforms, too.

Press Ganey, Oracle Health (formerly Cerner), NRC Health, Salesforce, and Kyruus also see broad adoption. These tools mostly fill patient portal, patient experience surveying and CAHPS reporting, and customer relationship management (CRM) functions.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Epic and Oracle Health are commonly cited patient engagement technology vendors. The KLAS report noted that although third-party vendors have increased capabilities, most organizations are using their EHR vendors—meaning their patient portal vendors—to anchor their patient engagement technology investments.

Around six in 10 (58 percent) of respondents using Epic said it is the tool most aligned with their current and future patient engagement plans, and a third of users said the same about Oracle Health. Half of MEDITECH users said the vendor is the tool most aligned with their patient engagement tech plans, but KLAS pointed out it had limited data about this vendor.

That doesn’t mean all patient engagement functionality is coming from the EHR and patient portal vendor; some organizations are anchoring the patient experience within the patient portal and integrating services from third parties.

“Even while EHR vendors are most often chosen as the vendor most aligned with patient engagement goals, third-party vendors continue to play a significant role in patient engagement for about half of respondents, sometimes in conjunction with their EHR vendor,” the KLAS researchers said.

“Respondents who identified a third party as their most-aligned vendor described strong strategic partnership, communication, and innovation that set these vendors apart. Many of the mentioned third-party vendors also offer broad capability sets.”

Moving forward, patient engagement technology vendors can expect a shifting landscape from a customer base that wants to consolidate their footprints. In a September 2023 KLAS and Bain & Company report, two-thirds of organizations said they wanted to streamline their tech stack, with 64 percent of respondents saying they plan to stop using at least one of their patient engagement solutions.

Organizations are most likely to consolidate when it comes to patient communications, seeking to consolidate virtual care, patient communications and texting, and patient portals.

“Communications and texting solutions were initially purchased for basic appointment reminders, and organizations now want deeper capabilities (e.g., self-scheduling, self-registration, payment collections) or are seeking EHR-native capabilities to consolidate the patient experience,” the report authors concluded.

“Additionally, after consolidating the number of EHR vendors in use, organizations are planning to consolidate or are already consolidating their patient portals, with an emphasis on using one consolidated portal from their EHR vendor.”

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