Delay in Meaningful Use Stage 2? Not really.

There has been confusion and questions circulating about the recent announcement regarding a new timeline for Meaningful Use Stage 2 and 3.   On December 6, 2013, CMS proposed a new timeline for Meaningful Use, extending Stage 2 for an additional year and delaying the start of Stage 3 to 2017.  Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2.

“This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations we at CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, health care associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the health care industry,” write Reider and Tagalicod.  “The goal of this change is two-fold: first, to allow CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in Stage 2; and second, to utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3. The phased approach to program participation helps providers move from creating information in Stage 1, to exchanging health information in Stage 2, to focusing on improved outcomes in Stage 3. This approach has allowed us to support an aggressive yet smart transition for providers.”  This would allow certification data to be updated more frequently.  Read more.

What was less clear was the implication of this announcement regarding the START of Stage 2 in 2014. In a blog from John D Halamka, MD, MS, he states “This is NOT a delay of Meaningful Use in 2014 (Stage 1 or Stage 2).   All 2014 certification and attestation deadlines are still in force.”  Halamka is Chief Information Officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer and Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), CEO of MA-SHARE (the Regional Health Information Organization), Chair of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), and a practicing Emergency Physician.

Here is what we know.  The proposal says the following:

  • The next set of required certification criteria will be the 2017 Edition which will support Stage 3 beginning in 2017.  This effectively extends the time of Stage 2 up to 3 years.
  • The CMS and ONC will be releasing their proposals in more official capacity via a Notice for Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in Fall 2014 with the Final Rules expected to be released during “first half of 2015.”
  • This change in timeline was done primarily to collect more data to be better prepared for Stage 3.
  • ONC indicated it will be developing an optional 2015 Edition certification criteria set.

The proposal does not delay the start date for Stage 2 attestation.

In summary, the announcement is a first step in the fine-tuning of the national healthcare IT timeline.  Stage 2 is now a three-year cycle beginning in 2014, and Stage 3 begins in 2017.  There are no changes for the start of Stage 2 certification.  For Navigating Cancer, we are continuing to support your efforts for State 2 attestation.  We recommend that if you are planning to attest in 2014, that you continue on your path to making sure you are ready in 2014.

Patient Portals and Medication Adherence

Patient Portals are becoming the cancer clinics “right arm” in supporting their efforts to regularly educate and communicate with their patients between clinic visits. With this new communication vehicle, there is an opportunity to improve medication adherence by Image of pill boxcommunicating more regularly with patients and requesting that patients provide data back on when they take their medications.  This need has become even more prevalent due to the increasing number of available oral agents, as non-adherence to medications can have profound clinical consequences and is a growing concern for healthcare professionals managing cancer patients.

Several factors can contribute to non-adherence in patients and understanding the factors and potential barriers that affect patient adherence can help manufacturers develop specific strategies to support patient education and adherence in this new era of technology via patient portals. To help patient’s get the best possible outcome requires: education, communication, adherence, ongoing monitoring and follow-up and a patient’s portal becomes the warehouse for all of these tactics.

While many patients might prefer the convenience of oral medications, the self-administration of oral chemotherapeutic agents, in itself, presents its own challenges. For example, self –administration may increase the risk of medication errors and possibly compromise the overall effectiveness of the treatment regimen. To prevent unwanted toxicities and keep therapeutic misadventures at bay, providers and patients need to understand the mechanisms of action and potential drug/drug interactions associated with these oral agents, as well as have a communication vehicle available to regularly communicate between visits.

Patient portals can provide that communication vehicle and support medication adherence by providing tools for the provider and patient. Daily health journals, oral templates and reminder emails or text messages to a patient’s phone are just a few ways this can happen. Clinicians can then take the necessary steps to prevent problems and maximize the efficacy of oral chemotherapeutic agents.

Not only are these technology features “cutting edge” but they are part of the new healthcare reform initiatives or HITECH Meaningful Use to better engage the patient. These new initiatives are about giving patients electronic access to their personal health information and personalized patient education.

Clinics are rapidly adopting patient portals to meet these new initiatives (which are required by October 2014) and portals are transforming the way providers and patients interact. As a leader in the oncology patient portal space, we hear this all the time. However, we’d like to share an example of this is from Michiana Hematology Oncology, an established practice with 15 physicians in South Bend, Indiana. Their decision to adopt a patient portal in 2011 was initially driven by the required “Meaningful Use” objectives. However, another important reason was that Michiana is very passionate about giving patients electronic access to their “patient specific” education/medication adherence materials.

“Our portal delivers education/adherence materials directly to our patients based on where they are in their cancer journey,” said Kim Woofter, CEO.  “Patients receive clinic and manufacturer materials specific to their diagnosis and medications and the education module allows our patients to receive the right information, at the right time, from their providers.”  Additionally, the portal provides Michiana a safe and secure environment to keep patients educated on their specific cancer treatment.  “The manufacturer product specific materials educate the patients as it relates to their treatment, but it also allows us to free up valuable space and saves on printing costs,” said Kim. “I tell my manufacturer representatives to digitize their materials and work with my portal to ensure patients receive the materials when it matters most.”

In summary, patient portals are becoming critical in supporting clinic efforts to regularly educate and communicate with their patients between clinic visits. Manufacturers can support the clinics efforts by creating solutions that can be placed on a portal that helps improves patient adherence to medication and possibly lead to improved patient outcomes.

New Research on Patient Portals: Is Your EMR the Safest Choice?

There is a lot of news lately on the adoption of patient portals. And for good reason, the deadline for adopting and using a patient portal to meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements is 2014, which is quickly approaching.

Patient portal adoption and active use is accelerating dramatically across the U.S., driven by Stage 2 requirements. Stage 2 requires providers to adopt and use technology that allows patients to electronically view, download, and transmit electronic copies of their own medical records. Patient portals are the key technology that will help providers meet these requirements. In addition, providers that adopt patient portals will enjoy a competitive advantage, as patients increasingly demand convenient, 24/7 access to their financial and clinical information.

But Stage 2 and 2014 is just the start. There will be a growing demand for additional features and functions to support Accountable Care Organizations, alternative payment models, and the increasing demand from patients for health information technology.
It’s not just about buying a patient portal in the next 12 months to meet current requirements, it’s really about preparing for new age of healthcare delivery. “The need to fully engage patients as a member of the care team is fundamentally about encouraging individuals to become more involved with their healthcare, so they will be motivated to make behavioral changes that can positively impact their health status,” Frost & Sullivan connected health principal Analyst Nancy Fabozzi, said in a statement. “That need will only grow as the healthcare system moves towards accountable care and value-based reimbursement. The importance of this movement cannot be underestimated.”

It’s estimated that 50% of hospitals and 40% of U.S. physicians already have some patient portal technology, mostly acquired as a module from their EHR system. In 2012, KLAS research published a new study entitled Patient Portals 2012: The Path of Least Resistance, which demonstrated that many providers were choosing their EMR provided solutions in their quest to meet Meaningful Use with what they perceived to be the “safest” choice. Recently, KLAS research released a new report entitled, “Patient Portals 2013: On Track to Meet Meaningful Use?”. The report provides details on some patient portal’s performance related to meeting Stage 2 criteria, including patient engagement, ease and use and support. The new conventional wisdom may be that EMR provided solutions may not be enough, as many don’t have all the needed functionality yet to support Stage 2. “The HITECH Act that launched MU Stage 2 is clearly aiding the EMR vendors in this segment,” said report author and research director Mark Allphin. “However, there are advantages to looking outside your EMR. Many providers are still trying to determine which portal solution will best meet their needs, now and in the future as they continue to engage their patients on a deeper level.”

New research published last month from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that the patient portal market is expected to grow to nearly $900M by 2017, a 221% increase from the $279.8M in revenue that was earned in 2012 from hospitals and physicians. This is primarily due to the demand of providers and hospitals to have new technology systems to meet the growing patient engagement needs and requirements. The recent KLAS report provided data that many implemented providers were looking to leave their current solutions. In fact, a quarter of Intuit’s patient portal customers reported they plan to leave, which was three times higher than the market average. It has been heavily documented that many physicians are not happy with their EHR systems, and 17% of 17,000 surveyed reported that they are looking to switch systems in 2013. In the quest for digital health, it’s evident that many outdated systems are not meeting the current requirements and that this market is far from established and settled.

So how should a physician practice or hospital select a vendor to meet these new requirements in a market that continues to evolve so rapidly? Although there are no guarantees, my advice is to do your research. Understand each vendors solution, product roadmap, management team, and any other information you can gather to understand their future direction to understand if they will support you in this evolving market. You are looking for a partnership, not just a product. If you are already dis-satisfied with your EMR system, don’t buy their portal solution. That is just asking for more trouble and frustration. Talk to each vendor’s current customers and ask about training, support, implementation and most importantly, patient utilization. Patient utilization, invitations and onboarding are paramount, as Stage 2 requires that patients actually use the system. Implementing a patient portal provides an opportunity to improve your processes, reduce administrative burden and provide a tool for patients that will improve patient satisfaction and ultimately engage your patients in their care to improve the care model. To ensure the greatest success, make sure this is the lens you use to select your solution and partnership. Good Luck!

The Value of a Patient Portal: A Customer’s Perspective

Patient Engagement is not just a new “buzz word” in healthcare, but its here to stay.  Healthcare providers do not need to look far to find examples.  HITECH Meaningful Use, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Home, and Commission on Cancer standards are proof that patient engagement will be required in the new care model.  These new models are about giving patients electronic access to their personal health information and personalized patient education materials, or more simply said “Patient Engagement”.  To deliver on these new requirements, providers will need to look at technology solutions like patient portals.  Clinics are rapidly adopting patient portals to meet these new initiatives and portals are transforming the way providers and patients interact.  Let’s take a look at a few clinics and how their adoption of a patient portal has improved their patient’s experience.

Lynn Sawyer

Lynn Sawyer

Patient Registration: Interview with Lynn Sawyer, Practice Administrator, Hematology Oncology Consultants, P.A.

Hematology Oncology Consultants, P.A. is an established practice with six oncologists in Orlando, Florida.   Hematology Oncology Consultants, P.A. adopted their patient portal in 2010 and one of the many reasons they adopted a portal is they were looking for a solution to capture complete patient data in a structured way.   In their new solution, Hematology Oncology Consultants, P.A. require all patients to register online from the comfort of their home.  “Since adopting the portal our patients complete the registration forms (demographic and medical history) from the comfort of their home, which results in more complete and legible information,” said Lynn Sawyer, Practice Administrator.  Lynn also mentioned the portal helps reduce cost, “we’re saving money by eliminating printing costs and labor costs and patients love the process.” Dr. Philip Dunn stated, “the portal is reducing the workload of our staff, plus I also like that I have more complete information that I can read before patients come into the office.”  Satisfaction surveys show that patients love the on-line registration process as well, with 90% of patients agreeing or strongly agreeing that the registration process was better than filling out paper forms.  “It was an excellent experience that made me believe that all other interactions with the office and the doctor would be perfect, “said clinic patient Rosley R.  The right portal solution can make a great first impression and help improve the patient to provider relationship, as well as get you on your way to meeting all the new patient- centered initiatives.

Barry Russo

Barry Russo

Electronic Patient Health Information: An interview with Barry Russo, CEO, The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is an established practice with 18 physicians in Fort Worth, Texas.  The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders adopted their portal in 2010 with the vision of meeting “Meaningful Use” and giving patients electronic access to their health records.  The practice provides patients with electronic copies of their health information via visit summaries with no staff intervention.  “The portal has generated cost savings for The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders by no longer printing visit summaries and eliminating staff workload associated with printing those visit summaries”, said Barry Russo, CEO.  To engage patients in their care, providers must inform and educate them about their care.  The use of technology, but more specifically, patient portals will be instrumental in delivering this new care model.  The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders has witnessed this effect and it’s also reflected in their patient satisfaction surveys.  A survey conducted across their patient population reflected 89% of The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders patients say receiving their personal health information is valuable and important to them.

Kim Woofter

Kim Woofter

Electronic Patient Education: Interview with Kim Woofter, CEO, Michiana Hematology Oncology

Michiana Hematology Oncology, PC is an established practice with 15 physicians in South Bend, Indiana.  Their decision to adopt a patient portal in 2011 was driven by the required “Meaningful Use” objectives.  Another important reason was that Michiana is very passionate about giving patients electronic access to their “patient specific” education materials.  “Our portal delivers education materials directly to our patients based on where they are in their cancer journey,” said Kim Woofter, CEO.  “Patients receive clinic and manufacturer materials specific to their diagnosis and medications and the education module allows our patients to receive the right information, at the right time, from their providers.”  Additionally, the portal provides Michiana a safe and secure environment to keep patients educated on their specific cancer treatment.  “The manufacturer product specific materials educate the patients as it relates to their treatment, but also allows us to free up valuable space and saves on printing costs,” said Kim. “I tell my manufacturer representatives to digitize their materials and work with my portal to ensure patients receive the materials when it matters most.” 

Digital Technology and Brand Planning

Many individuals consider “digital” a channel when it’s not – it is however, a capability that all communicators should have. Just about everyone in the US uses some sort of digital communication, with internet penetration around 80% of the population.  When you also consider that, worldwide, 34% of people are either under 14 or over 65, you realize that almost all of the student and working population is online, together with a good proportion of older and younger people.

It might be social media, email, SMS messaging or a variety of other types of interaction, but digital is very important to most of us. But since digital is not one channel, it is important to find out what digital interactions are relevant for each customer and when.

digital technologyEven our government is pushing the use of technology into the healthcare space. With the advent of HITECH (Health IT for Economic & Clinical Health Act), practices are now required to digitize their practice and prove they are “meaningfully using” certified electronic medical record/patient portal systems. All HCP’s will need to provide electronic patient access to their records by October 2014. Many large community oncology practices have been early adopters and are already on a patient portal to provide this service to their patients. Where you can support your HCP’s is by converting your ‘paper’ patient education and digitizing it so they can “meaningfully use” their patient portals by providing disease specific information to their patients.

Digital is moving into all areas. Even medical education is increasingly provided and sought online – pharma medical teams must be active here.  The ‘self-made KOL’ is emerging through blogging, HCPs reach out to each other in online forums and networks – key partnerships can be developed in these places.  Brand visibility, services, information and interaction are expected from your customers – all members of your brand team and your sales reps should have digital tools in their kit.

In the early 2000s, there was a lot of mediocre execution with regard to digital strategies. Companies and agencies alike had not developed best practice in pharma digital and many mistakes were made.  Email was too often spam, websites became out-of-date and banners were irritating interruptions. Many tactics just didn’t work. However, we know a lot more now and if you are taking a more strategic approach to your customer, intending to interact with them at the right moment with the right content in the right format to engage them, at some point websites, email, and banners may indeed be the right interaction. You just need to execute well.

Beware of blanket advice from cross-industry digital experts.  You sometimes hear for example that ‘ email is obsolete’ and this may be the case in some sectors, but it is often not so for physicians – studies show many still use and value email from colleagues and also email news from professional associations and pharmaceutical companies.  The important thing, once again, is to understand what your customer wants and will engage with.

Digital Strategies for Brands and questions to consider: How do you take a strategic approach to embedding digital into your multichannel brand plan?

How can I put my customer truly at the center of my planning and consider all the interactions that will be effective and how to combine them into a seamless customer experience and long-term relationship?competitiveLanscape

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this in pharma, there isn’t a piece of software you can plug variables in and out pops the ‘channel mix’.  You have to gather all the insight you can and take your best guess at the channel mix for your customer, execute with excellence and be ready to change the mix and iterate, iterate, iterate.  Over time you learn what works for your brand and your customers in the market in which you operate.  That’s where great measurement and analytics come in – to help you ‘learn as you go’.  But your first multichannel plan will have to be your best, most educated guess, drawing on all the knowledge and experience you can access.

Brands, in summary, should have a multichannel customer engagement plan – starting with a ‘channel agnostic’ planning process that evaluates all channels. However, companies should also be looking at strategies that support HCP’s challenges in this new technology environment. Companies that have a strategic approach to embedding digital expertise and processes across their brands and customer base will ultimately be ahead of the game.

The Navigating Cancer Community

At Navigating Cancer, we believe that it takes a community of people to help support a cancer patient.  Cancer is a scary disease.  It’s overwhelming to the patient, and to their family and to their own community of friends and family who feel so helpless.

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That’s why we’ve built Navigating Cancer, to help support cancer patients, to support communities and to build another community to help others.

The Navigating Cancer community consists of survivors, caregivers, healthcare professionals, family and friends.  In the community, patients can access their own health information, read expert information about their disease and treatments, and connect with their own family and friends as well as other like patients.  Following an appointment, patients can log in to the site to view lab results and clinic visit summaries.  61% of patients visit the site one day after an appointment then again within 2 weeks.  Besides viewing personal health records, patients use the library to research information, a new drug or discover information about their diagnosis.

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Within the Navigating Cancer community, patients can learn from one another through discussions and groups.  Every month, thousands of people connect with one another through private messages to learn and share.

 

We support those that are supporting the people that are fighting for their life, the family, friends and caregivers of cancer patients.  We want to ensure that they have the information, tools and support to help their loved ones.

In addition to helping thousands of patients, we’re proud to be supporting thousands of healthcare professionals who take care of cancer patients every day.  We’re passionate about helping providers and clinic staff save time and improve efficiencies so they can focus on their patients.

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Finally, an integral part of the community is the Navigating Cancer team, a group of dedicated engineers, sales and support personnel.  Our mission is to transform healthcare through patient-centered care by using technology to connect every cancer patient to their healthcare team, their own health records, and the right information at the right time.  We’re proud to be supporting healthcare professionals and patients every day.

If you are a cancer survivor or are supporting a cancer patient, we welcome you to our community.  Please send us feedback on how we can continue to support you!

Patient Portals Help Deliver Patient Engagement

mail patient, computer & doctor

Patient Engagement is not just the new buzz word in healthcare, but it is here to stay.  Healthcare providers do not need to look far to find examples.  HITECH Meaningful Use, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Home, and Commission on Cancer standards are proof that patient engagement will be required in the new care model.  These new models are about giving patients electronic access to their personal health information and personalized patient education materials, or more simply said “Patient Engagement”.  To deliver on these new requirements, providers will need to look at technology solutions like patient portals.

New Rules Require Physicians to Provide Patient Engagement

Many providers today are worried about what’s required for them tomorrow.  Patient engagement is quickly becoming one of those requirements that providers must be ready to address.  Why does patient engagement matter? There’s a universal belief that patients are an important stakeholder in healthcare, after all they have the most at stake, and their involvement can lead to better healthcare outcomes at a better overall cost.  While this is true, there is a common perception that it is the doctor’s responsibility to take care of patients. Healthcare professionals are beginning to learn, that engaging patients in their care by informing and educating them is a far more effective way and will deliver better outcomes.  A study published by HealthAffairs shows that patient engagement will lead to better clinical outcomes and lower cost.  The solution to solving patient engagement is the patient portal.

 

Patient Engagement:  Inform & Educate

To engage patients in their care, providers must inform and educate them about their care.  The use of technology, but more specifically patient portals will be instrumental in delivering this new care model. woman with doctorInform

The first step to engaging patients in their care is by giving patients electronic access to their personal health 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 doctor.  Giving patients access to their health information now makes the patient an active participant in their care and is the first step in patient engagement.

 

Educate

The second step to engaging patients in their care is by educating them along their cancer journey.  Technology solutions exist that will allow providers to educate patients along their cancer journey instead of the previous way at diagnosis.  Patients can stay engaged along the cancer continuum by receiving the right information, at the right time, from their preferred source, their providers.  A 2012 Navigating Cancer survey shows 77% were interested in reading cancer education materials personalized to their diagnosis from expert sources.  Patients who are educated about their diagnosis and now receiving resources specifically related to that diagnosis, make patient engagement the new care model.

 

Patient Engagement Will Lead to Improved Patient Satisfaction

Besides worrying about future requirements, providers must also focus on patient satisfaction.patient with up arrow    Patients now have access online to compare providers.  Patients will choose providers based on the quality of care.  Technology solutions, like patient portals are becoming a key differentiator for providers to demonstrate they give the best quality of care.  Portals allow providers to keep patients informed, educated and engaged in their care.

Finding a portal solution that is cancer specific and focused solely on the patient is a challenge.  Finding a portal solution that keeps patients informed by providing access to personal health information, but can also educate them long the cancer journey is a must.  Providers must find those technology solutions that can be an extension of their care model that will improve patient engagement and lead to improved patient satisfaction.

10 Tips to Marketing Your Patient Portal to Your Patients

Now that you have a patient portal, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your patients aware of this new service. Patients will want to use this new service, but many will look to you, their healthcare team, to guide their usage.  Your promotion of the portal, telling your patients how important it is and how you will care and communicate with them, will make all the difference in your success.

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Patient engagement is quickly becoming a requirement, and with the shift to value-based medicine, it ultimately could affect your bottom line. Here are some tips for marketing your patient portal to promote patient adoption and use of the portal:

  1. Capture email addresses for every patient.  This seems obvious but this is your number one success factor.  Don’t assume that your patients don’t have an email address.  Ask every patient for their email as they schedule an appointment.  Capture that information in your practice management system.  Your patients will automatically be invited to join your portal.
  2. Train your staff so they understand the benefits to the patient and to the clinic.  Send a note to your staff once you’ve signed up for a portal to let them know it’s coming and make sure you communicate regularly about it’s benefits so it’s top of mind to them as they interact with your patients.  Involve the physicians so you have their buy in and they understand the benefits that their patients will receive using the portal.
  3. Provide informational handouts on how to access and use the portal. Place this information at the front desk and in the waiting room so patients can read it while they wait for appointments. Display posters around the office and in clinic rooms with different messages about the patient portal.  These handouts and posters explain what’s in it for them in addition to providing instructions for accessing and using the portal.
  4. Place a computer kiosk or tablet in the waiting room where patients can register to use the portal instead of filling out information on the clipboard. This way, patients are not only introduced to the portal, but actually have the opportunity to become familiar with it in a setting where staff can provide instruction as needed.
  5. Send postcards to all active patients to introduce the portal and encourage patients to use it to view their health information. This will help increase awareness of the portal and encourage patients to use it when they want to receive updates.   Place an insert into your billing statements, newsletters or any other mail corespondence to patients.
  6. Add a tag line to common forms of patient communication, such as appointment cards, the bottom of statements, eNewsletters, etc.  Use a common message such as, “Tired of Playing Phone Tag?  Ask About Our Patient Portal.”  This is another way to promote your clinic brand, as well.
  7. Change your practice’s on-hold music to include a message introducing the patient portal. Let patients know that by using the portal, they could likely get what they need online without waiting on hold.
  8. Promote it on any TV’s or displays you may have in the waiting room.  Make sure to explain the benefits of the portal so patients see the benefits for them.
  9. Prominently display a link to the patient portal on your practice’s website and in the office. Make sure that you have a prominent link on the home page of your website.  Additionally, you can provide the link on a poster near your front reception area for patients who are checking in or waiting for their appointment.
  10. Make the portal your practice’s preferred way of sending information to patients. In order to drive home the message that patients should be accessing the portal, your practice should be communicating that it is the preferred place to send information, forms, etc.  For instance, have providers tell patients that lab results can be accessed online when ordering tests. Instruct staff to tell patients that you will provide patient education that’s personalized to them on the portal and other information pertinent to providing them with the best care.

With your support and promotion, your patient portal can become vital in caring for your patients, helping you improve efficiencies and providing tools for patients to participate in their care. Navigating Cancer has a full suite of tools to help you market your portal to your patients.  For more information about these marketing tools, please contract Trish Keaton at trish@navigatingcancer.com.

 

 

 

Time Is Running Out – Find a Patient Portal now!

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,


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, Patient Portal

 

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.

Patient Portal Adoption_HIPAA deadline

What Patients Say About Their Navigating Cancer Patient Portal

There is a lot of talk about patient portals in the news.   Practices need to provide patients with online access to their parts of their health records to meeting healthcare reform requirements.  Now that practices are providing this service, we wanted to share what patients are saying about having access to a patient portal.patient portal

From a recent survey of over 1,100 responses from cancer patients fielded by Navigating Cancer, 89.2% value having secure, on-demand access to their health records.  But what do patients say about the service?  In the survey fielded, patients had the ability to share free form comments about their experiences on using the Navigating Cancer Patient Portal provided by their healthcare team.

Here is an except of some of the comments from cancer patients:

“It’s very convenient to look at my records on my own time. Late at night or early in the morning, when I’m unable to sleep, it’s nice to be able to see at a glance what my records are.”

“I love having the time to review the test results and then if I have any questions I can call or email the Doctor.”

“I also love having the ability to review the information I have input and make any additions or information in the privacy of your own home. Not having to fill out all those papers in a doctor’s office is a definite plus.”

“I feel more in control of my records and feel comfortable knowing the system is secure.”

 “You can be more thoughtful and indicate more information because you do not feel rushed when filling in the information in the privacy of your own home.”  

 “I can compare lab results, then follow up [with my doctor] with questions if necessary.”

“Much easier to complete lengthy forms than writing them out.” 

“I have a permanent record easy to review and update.”

“ I can review with family and not miss important information.”

“Being able to check appointment times is easy and helps schedule other activities.”

I was able to see my blood test quicker. Any information on my condition is important and the quicker the better. Waiting for results is so stressful.” 

“I can read comments from other cancer patients that help smooth my path to recovery.”

“I have multiple specialists and it is very helpful to have a patient portal system to help coordinate my care and ensure that all of my physicians have test results and medications changes. It is easy to print new lab results and take them to another physician, etc.”

“Glad to have this online resource and I check it every other day, even if I don’t get a notice new information is posted — reason: to follow discussions from other cancer patients.” 

“Sharing experiences with others is informative and sometimes comforting. Cancer changes your life and the life of your family and the more information you can share the better. This site is close to home rather than the worse thing to do…surfing the net.”

“I like the fact that I can access information on my blood work and hopefully receive information on me.”

“I like the option of having access to my records whenever I need them. I can review my results at any time and as often as I want.”

 “It is very helpful having my medical records in one place and accessible.” 

 “I don’t have to take notes at my visit”

“I am able to check my medications and appointment reminders.”

“[The Portal] allows me not have to rely on calls or missed calls to keep up with my treatment.”

“I have trouble keeping up with the paperwork so it helps to have it all in one place.”

I’m trying to go paperless especially when it comes to my schedule and the number of various doctors’ appointments I have. Having the ability to look up my appointments thru the Portal keeps me on track and ensures I don’t miss an appointment.”

“Much easier than trying to fill out forms in a waiting room and also gives you time to track down information.”

“To me knowledge is power. The more I know the better I feel.”

Control, convenience, accessibility, security and efficiency seem to resonate with cancer patients from both the quantitative and qualitative information from the survey.  Patients also said they like being able to connect with other cancer patients to learn and share.  A recent study published in Health Affairs demonstrated that engaged patients received better outcomes and consumed less healthcare dollars.  Patient Engagement is thought to be important to improving our ailing healthcare system and it’s apparent from the recent survey that many cancer patients are happy to receive tools, support, and information to be engaged through a patient portal.