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Note to readers: This is the fourth post in a six-part series exploring the perspectives of digital patient engagement.

Mike Deegan, Director, Business Development

Driven by staffing shortages, clinician and patient burnout, and dynamic regulatory environments, digital engagement emerges as a beacon of innovation and efficiency. 

This shift has already begun to redefine the clinician-patient dynamic, offering various benefits while aligning with clinicians’ workflows, including:

  • Improving clinical decision making with real-world patient data.
  • Engagement and outreach for each patient
  • Clinician augmentation (read: not replacement) 

Let’s explore how digital patient engagement impacts clinicians. 

The Rise of Digital Health Platforms

The widespread adoption of various digital health platforms underscores the healthcare industry’s digital transformation. 

While adopting and using these platforms offer a gateway to enhanced patient care, they come with challenges. 

The administrative burden, including exhaustive documentation and patient portal messaging, poses a risk of contributing to physician burnout instead of offering relief and efficiency. 

Additionally, the management of data from disparate sources remains a hurdle. Solutions like AI present a promising avenue for improving patient-clinician interactions without exacerbating the administrative load. When AI is paired with a digital health aggregation platform, digital health tools and related data within the EHR can be brought together for easy deployment and oversight.

Technological advances, growing demand for remote and personalized care, and significant regulatory shifts propel this digital pivot.

Enhancing Patient-Clinician Interactions

Digital platforms are revolutionizing patient-clinician communication, facilitating more frequent and impactful exchanges. They enhance accessibility, inclusivity, and the capacity for personalized healthcare delivery. 

Telehealth, in particular, has been instrumental in expanding care access, especially to rural or underserved communities. An example of effective digital leverage is Providence, which has harnessed telehealth to broaden its reach and deepen patient engagement.

Their swift adoption of telehealth, propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led Providence to conduct over 1.2 million virtual consultations, with over 18,000 providers leveraging telehealth solutions to connect with patients remotely. Interestingly, patients are more likely to schedule and complete a follow-up appointment after a telehealth visit than after an office visit.  

Improving Health Outcomes through Personalized Care

The strategic use of digital health data enables the customization of treatments and interventions, marking a shift towards more personalized care. Wearables and health apps play a significant role in empowering patients in their health management journeys. 

Children’s Wisconsin (CW) stands out in this context, illustrating the impactful use of digital tools in tailoring patient care and enhancing outcomes. With Xealth support, they integrated CW custom and KidsHealth patient educational content into digital care – including teaching sheets, videos, and web pages. Patients can access the content via text, email, and MyChart. 

With bundling, order sets, and automation across various clinical areas, CW recorded orders placed for 1,000+ unique patients with a 25% content engagement rate in the first year. 

Streamlining Healthcare Processes

Digital engagement tools are vital to streamlining healthcare processes, from automating administrative tasks to simplifying patient-clinician interactions. 

Innovations like digital prescriptions and online appointment scheduling improve operational efficiency and significantly enhance patient and clinician experiences. 

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC’s) adoption of these digital strategies showcases their practical benefits in real-world settings. UPMC partnered with Xealth as the health system sought an efficient way to manage its physical therapy rehabilitation programs within the clinician’s EHR workflow. 

UPMC clinicians now use the Xealth interface to create, review, and adjust patient plans about 5,000 times monthly, all within their core EHR workflow, which saves them about 150 hours of administrative time.

Overcoming Barriers to Digital Adoption

Despite the clear advantages, the path to digital adoption is fraught with challenges, including financial constraints, required training, data security concerns, and resources devoted to other initiatives such as AI.

A strategic approach should encompass the following:

The Future of Clinician-Patient Engagement

Digital engagement tools are poised to play an increasingly pivotal role in healthcare. 

Anticipated trends include more holistic reporting of digital health solutions, greater utilization of chronic care services, and leveraging digital tools to reimagine care delivery and design new virtual service lines. This evolution promises to enhance patient-centric care further, improve communication, and ensure greater accessibility for both clinicians and patients.

Digital Engagement Can Make Clinicians’ Jobs Easier

Digital engagement of patients offers many benefits for clinicians, from deepening patient relationships to streamlining clinical operations. As healthcare evolves, embracing digital tools will be crucial for clinicians aiming to enhance care quality and operational efficiency. 

Request a Xealth demo today to explore digital engagement’s potential for your health system.

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