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EMRs Can Enhance Patient Engagement

The following is a guest post by Scott Zimmerman, President of TeleVox Software, Inc, whose bio appears below.

It’s well known that when EMRs are partnered with patient engagement technology, physicians can communicate more effectively and tailor their treatment plans to meet the needs of their patients.  For example, a patient who has diabetes can receive communications about monitoring blood sugar, while a patient who has high blood pressure can get daily reminders to exercise and take their medication.  This type of engagement can be highly beneficial, as TeleVox Healthy World research found that 83 percent of people across the nation admit they don’t follow treatment plans exactly as prescribed.

Though the use of EMRs is still debated among medical professionals, research has suggested that by transcending the in-office visit using digital technology to communicate with patients on a more regular basis, doctors may finally begin to achieve the amount of communication their patients desire.  It has been estimated that three in ten U.S. consumers would trust their provider more if they received text messages, voicemails or emails that provide patient care between visits.  Of the 66 percent of Americans who have received a voicemail, text or email from a healthcare provider, many report a variety of positive outcomes:

Fifty-one percent reported feeling more valued as a patient.
Thirty-five percent said digital communication improved their opinion of their provider.
Thirty-four percent reported feeling more certain about visiting that healthcare provider again.

When asked about how they felt about office visits in a virtual setting, an astounding 85 percent of patients in a study responded that communications such as email, text messages and voicemails are as helpful, if not even more helpful, than in-person or phone conversations with their healthcare provider.  And when it comes to patients giving consistent full disclosure when communicating digitally, TeleVox’s research showed the following:

Thirty-four percent of U.S. consumers said they would be more honest when talking about their medical needs through an automated call, email or text message than in person with a healthcare provider.
Twenty-eight percent said they would talk more frankly about nutritional habits.
Twenty-seven percent said they would be more open to discussing their fitness regimen.
Eighteen percent said they would talk more freely about their bad habits or personal vices through digital communication rather than in-person visits.

When healthcare providers link EMRs with notifications technology, engaging patients between visits becomes as easy as writing a prescription.  Physicians can use both to create and nurture that personal, human touch during the treatment process.

Scott Zimmerman is a regularly-published thought leader on engaging patients via ongoing communication between office visits. He is the President of TeleVox Software, Inc, a high-tech Engagement Communications company that provides automated voice, email, SMS and web solutions that activate positive patient behaviors by applying technology to deliver a human touch. Scott spearheads TeleVox’s Healthy World initiative, a program that leverages ethnographic research to uncover, understand and interpret both patient and provider points of view with the end goal of creating a healthy world–one person at a time. Zimmerman possesses 20 years of proven performance in the healthcare industry, with domain knowledge in the surgical, interventional and pharmaceutical arenas. Prior to joining TeleVox, Scott served for nine years at GE Healthcare in a variety of cross-functional and global leadership roles in sales, services, quality, marketing, pricing, finance and product development. Scott is a graduate of the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.
June 28, 2013 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

EMRs and the Human Genome

Did you know that the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is now funding grants to study how genomic information can be used along with electronic medical records?  The idea is to make it possible to have an impact on patients’ healthcare outcomes by integrating genome data with what health conditions and symptoms they have — all within the next four years.

“Our goal is to connect genomic information to high quality data in electronic medical records during the clinical care of patients. This will help us identify the genetic contributions to disease,” said NHGRI director Eric Green in a press release. “We can then equip health care workers everywhere with the information and tools that they need to apply genomic knowledge to patient care.”

So far, a pilot experiment to provide proof of principal for the research program (called eMERGE), showed that it is possible to link genetic information with complex disease states or conditions such as dementia, cataracts, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, peripheral arterial disease, white blood cell count, type 2 diabetes and heart conduction defects.

The investigators will now attempt to link genetic variations with more disease characteristics and symptoms, using genome-wide association studies (i.e. GWAS) across the entire eMERGE network.  Around 32,000 patients will be involved, and the ultimate goal would be to use the information found by linking genomic and EHR data to provide guidance for interventions such as adjusting patient medications or scheduling procedures that may ultimately help patients receive better care.  Imagine developing best practices for genetic disorders, all courtesy of your friendly neighborhood EMR/EHR!

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.


 

 

 

August 30, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

Do EMR and EHR Registries Equal Better Care?

Meaningful Use includes the creation and transmission of patient registries for reporting various medical data such as vaccinations, medications, lab results and vital signs including weight, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure.  To be honest, I don’t know any real practicing doctors out there who worry about their EHR’s ability to perform registry generation, but non-doctors with more time on their hands seem to think it’s the Holy Grail.  As it turns out, a recent post by Ken Terry EHRs Give Docs Analytics Tools They May Ignore sparked my interest.  

It was pretty intriguing that an insurance company like Blue Cross Blue Shield would be sponsoring a pilot experiment to correlate doctors’ access to EMR and EHR technology with doctors’ ability to generate patient registries.  Clearly, this is the first step in making searchable databases that will enable users to ask more detailed questions.  Since the pilot study was not clear on what or how much information was shared with the insurance company by the administrating body for the study, the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, there’s an interesting closed door there that the public can’t see behind right now.  Why does an insurance company want such information?  Let’s be honest:  it’s got to be money, plain and simple.  Insurance companies are for-profit entities after all.  Assigning report cards and pay-grades to doctors based on performance?  Stratifying out “good” and “bad” doctors?  Door #3?  If they just want to study problem areas for public health improvement, then it would be preferable to define their end goals publicly ahead of time — which has been one of my big beefs with Meaningful Use.

I loved the comment by Jane Metzger, a CSC consultant who is an expert in registries.  Most of today’s EHRs can do a registry-like function, but it takes work to do that… Not every practice that adopts an EHR is committed to care management–having guidelines for care, knowing who your diabetic patients are, and deciding you should see them at least once a year and so forth.”  Wow — what a negative connotation of docs who might have other ways to benefit their patients.  However, Metzger did mention something I agree with in the end:  ” it’s extra work to do it.”

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

August 9, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.