Electronic medical records (EMRs) are the software programs that underlie internal clinic workflow at most health care organizations. They’ve been around for a while but implementation nearly doubled nationwide from 2007 to 2012, thanks to the federal resources poured into EMR adoption as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. By the end of 2014, 83% of office-based physicians had adopted an EMR of some sort.
In cancer centers, EMRs are even more prevalent.
Now value in healthcare is shifting from quantity to quality, which means a fresh focus on patient outcomes. And patients that are more engaged in their care have been shown to realize better outcomes. In this new paradigm of increasingly personalized, patient-centered care, patient-facing tools for better care management and engagement are critical.
Again, this trend is particularly true in oncology, with the Oncology Care Model (OCM) poised to launch later this year.
A recent report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) noted that hospitals typically choose patient-facing software simply because it comes from the same vendor that provides their EMR. That’s like getting your coffee where you get your car tuned-up, or getting your hair done by your gardener.
The EMR vendors that have been building B2B enterprise software systems for decades did a good job replicating the closed, legacy systems that evolved around the fee-for-service model of healthcare, and so minimized any disruption to clinic workflow as organizations switched from paper to electronic records. But building software to support back-end clinic workflow and building software that effectively engages patients are two very different things.
Patients in today’s digitized world are accustomed to easy, mobile, seamless web experiences. They are looking for user-friendly mobile applications to report how they are feeling back to their healthcare providers in real time, and mobile reminders when it’s time to take their medications. They are coming to expect ready electronic access to their care plans and personal health information, robust online communities and personalized education materials.
At Navigating Cancer, we are dedicated to providing exactly that. To fully realize the promise of value-based medicine, patients and providers need the patient-facing software that will enable more effective engagement. That’s why we engineered our Navigating Care platform to be a comprehensive set of solutions for delivering value-centered, patient-focused care.
Clinic staff tolerate the poor usability features of their EMRs because they don’t have a choice; that’s the software their employers bought. But if patients don’t like the user experience of the software their clinic provides, they can (and will) choose not to use it. As open application program interfaces (APIs) gain traction in health IT, the landscape of available patient-facing solutions will expand.
That spur in innovation will be great for patients, and for healthcare organizations that understand the upside of looking beyond their primary EMR vendor for the software solutions that will allow them to achieve better patient engagement, and be successful in the transition to value-based care.