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athenahealth to Measure How Consumers Use Patient Engagement Tools

The Patient Digital Engagement Index will help practices understand how consumers use patient engagement tools and compare themselves with other athenahealth users.

athenahealth has unveiled the Patient Digital Engagement Index, a new tool that will help healthcare providers measure how consumers use patient engagement tools to manage their care.

The EHR vendor said the Index should help healthcare providers better understand how they can use technology for patient-provider communication, patient engagement, and care management.

“The Patient Digital Engagement Index represents another significant milestone in athenahealth’s journey to create a consumer-grade patient experience, enabling providers and patients to more seamlessly manage health and wellness as active partners to drive better outcomes,” Paul Brient, chief product officer of athenahealth, said in a statement.

“With healthcare lagging most other industries in terms of digitization, we are excited to help our customers deliver a higher-quality patient experience and promote patient loyalty.”

The Patient Digital Engagement Index is part of athenahealth’s response to trends of healthcare consumerism and digital health. Consumers are used to being able to interact with other service sectors using digital tools, like online banking or booking flights on an airline or travel app. As Brient noted, healthcare is far behind that paradigm, with many tasks like appointment booking and bill pay remaining analog.

athenahealth said the Index, which will be viewable on the athenaOne Insights Dashboard, will let medical practices take a look at how patients interact with them digitally. Particularly, the Index will show trends in how often patients use digital tools to update their information, schedule appointments, or pay bills.

The Index will also let practices compare digital patient engagement at their organization versus others in the athenahealth network.

The Patient Digital Engagement Index is in limited release and will roll out to all athenahealth customers by the end of the calendar year.

The EHR vendor says this launch comes on the heels of other patient engagement technology investments. Earlier in 2023, the organization unveiled athenaPatient, something akin to a mobile patient portal that lets consumers view upcoming appointments, test results, and securely message their providers.

Understanding consumer use of patient engagement technology will help healthcare organizations better tailor their digital front doors. Having a good digital suite is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather is something that makes for a better patient experience, research has found.

But patient expectations for the digital front door do not always meet reality. June 2022 data from KLAS Research found that healthcare organizations often do not offer the digital tools that consumers want. While there is some concordance—patients, organizations, and vendors all deprioritize family/caregiver collaboration tools, for example—there are some glaring omissions.

For example, 67 percent of patients want the ability to schedule and reschedule appointments online or via an app, but only 37 percent of the surveyed patients can do this. Meanwhile, half of patients reported wanting the ability to request prescription refills online, but less than 30 percent can actually do this.

Not having the right patient engagement technologies available may get in the way of high consumer engagement and utilization rates. By understanding which tools consumers use, and how often, healthcare organizations may build a more strategic digital suite.

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