Patient engagement is quickly becoming a requirement, whether it’s for HIPAA, HITECH Meaningful Use, Medical Home, or Accountable Care Organizations; Clinics are struggling with decisions on how to meet all these requirements. Providers are juggling many balls while operating an oncology practice and face many decisions being made under duress. Among those decisions, providers should find a solution that is focused on solving all these emerging trends and differentiates their brand. They should stop hesitating and making decisions at the last minute and find a product Now that is focused on Patient Engagement; a patient portal.
The Reasons for Choosing a Patient Portal: The Timeline Challenge
Up until now, clinics could meet the 20 meaningful use objectives, 15 core objectives and 5 menu objectives, without a portal. Patient portals were not required for clinics to meet Stage 1 meaningful use. A clinic only needed to demonstrate they were capable of performing certain tasks. However with stage 2, Meaningful Use will require clinics to actually perform those tasks. Those early adopters of portals are well on their way. Those clinics that elected to wait are now starting to face the challenge of when to make the decision to adopt a portal. In addition to HITECH, all providers are dealing with new initiatives emerging that would require the need for a portal. The challenge providers are facing is the timeline needed to meet all these objectives. As we approach September 2013 time is of the essence. Providers need to make a decision now and begin to implement their portal to be successful. Implementation,
Patient Engagement & Adoption, and Outside Emerging Payment Pressures are three key reasons why providers must act now. Once the decision has been made on a portal, the implementation process can take several weeks. The biggest hurdle practices face is the “change management” required from their staff to be successful. The myth that patients are too old and do not have internet access resides in the back of the staffs minds. Debugging this myth with the staff is part of the change management required. This will fuel the implementation process and will take some time to work itself out. The good news is surveys show patients want access and will be involved. Until staff actually witness the power of the portal, hesitation will persist. Timeline: The implementation process can take approximately 2 months when factoring in portal set-up, training and staff commitment.
Patient Engagement & Adoption
Patient engagement is a key priority to a successful launch of a patient portal. Surveys show patients want access to their health information. A 2009 report in the Journal of Medicine Internet Research shows 75% want access online to medical records, lab results and appointment schedules. A 2010 survey by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions show 80% are interested in gaining access, through their physicians, to an integrated medical record containing their test results, physician’s visits, and other information. A 2012 Navigating Cancer survey says 75% were interested in having access to their medical records securely online and the top 2 portal features patients were interested in are: 1) viewing labs & tests and 2) online secure messaging with doctors. These surveys show the desire by patients to have access. Even though patients want electronic access, it will still take time to get the majority of patients on a portal. Timeline: With many oncology providers treating thousands of patients yearly, the adoption rate of the portal will take several months.
Emerging Payment Models
Clinics must have a portal for Stage 2 meaningful use by no later than 2014. Meaningful use is not the only reason for the need for a portal. There are several emerging requirements where a portal can help, but the timeframe is different from meaningful use. These new trends require a portal to be implemented sooner than 2014. One example of these conflicting timeframes is with the new HIPAA requirements. HIPAA now requires clinics to be able to deliver “on demand” a secure patient’s health record electronically by September 2013. Another example is around new Patient Centered Medical Home and ACO initiatives. Clinics are also preparing for the Commission on Cancer standards. Each one of these emerging initiatives have different start dates, but with the same common theme of patient engagement and giving patients electronic access to their health information and educational materials. A patient portal is the solution to solving all these emerging initiatives. To remove the stress of delivering on all these requirements, HITECH, HIPAA, Medical Home, and ACO, clinics should adopt a portal NOW.
The Clock is ticking and The Time to Act is now
Patient engagement is quickly becoming a requirement, whether it’s HIPAA, HITECH Meaningful Use, Medical Home, or Accountable Care Organizations, clinics must get ready now and make the decision to implement a patient portal. When factoring portal implementation, patient engagement and adoption, and emerging initiatives, it is easy to see the time to act is now. Any delay in the decision process puts the clinics ability to meet key deadlines in jeopardy. See timeline below.