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What is in your scrolling?

Here are three current patient technology and engagement topics that can improve your scrolling...
July 9, 2024
What is in your scrolling?

i 3 Table Of Content

Here’s a simple question …

What are your scroll patterns?

You know, what are the go-to apps you scroll through when the mobile phone or tablet is in hand?

Does what you read have extended value or is it fleeting?

#taylorswift or #bluezones

Here are three current patient technology and engagement topics that can improve your scrolling:

  1. Information on a health issue, condition, or problem
  2. Patient access to care records
  3. CMS patient technology driving the delivery of US patient care

Let’s explore each, keeping the focus on The Patient.

Information on health issues, conditions, or problems

The slogan “an educated consumer is our best customer” is attributed to the Syms clothing store chain in the mid-1970s. This company was the tip of the spear for today’s off-price retailers like Nordstrom Rack, UAL (United Apparel Liquidators), and thousands of other online as well brick/mortar retailers.

Now apply Syms’ consumer viewpoint to patient engagement and health care to complete this sentence:

An educated patient is ___________________ .

The Patient as a Member of the Care Team

Over the last twenty years, the medical information available to the consumer/patient has exploded in volume and accuracy. It’s one reason my care team labels me as their “most compliant patient.” They are happy to see me because I come to my appointments, armed with relevant research, discuss options, do what we agree, and communicate.

I want to be an active member of the care team, not just the subject.

The big leap in my compliance, personal advocacy, and improved health can be attributed to using the free Medscape app. This app contains information on conditions, drugs, interactions, and more. Prior to this app, my information was found via browser-based searching while sitting in front of a laptop (à la Ask Jeeves).

My personal technology habits have grown and improved over the last few years.

Free and Accurate Health Information

Medscape app users are referencing the same information made available to physicians. The app has clinical information, a drug database, and educational videos on 30 medical specialty areas and more than 30 physician discussion boards. Very readable.

The Medscape health information app is available on the App Store as well as Google Play. The developer is WebMD – a health and medical information company founded in 1998 – the same year Google was founded. Keep in mind Apple and Google opened their app stores in 2008 and 2012, respectively, giving WebMD a ten-year runway to gather health information.

In the past few years, we have seen a big leap in patient engagement due, in part, to all this health information becoming more readily available.

Another leading free health information app is Epocrates, also available on the App Store and Google Play. Epocrates states that 1 out of 2 doctors access their app primarily because its content is designed for quick reference by physicians on the go (think emergency room and primary care nurses and doctors).

So, what’s in your scrolling?

Relate the current day “what’s in your wallet” by CapitalOne with Sy Syms ‘educated consumer’ slogan to help you decide which mobile apps get your attention.

Delivery of ‘smart’ health information

Many health information apps enable a patient or caregiver to search or filter conditions of particular interest. The Medscape app can ‘push’ specific topics I select.

What I find most helpful is the timely posting of new studies, especially the meta-analysis on historical studies of conditions that affect me or my family or the content in the care coordination products my company delivers.

Some of the provider groups and managed care organizations my company serves distribute vetted videos and podcasts to their patients published by MedScape and other sources.

Long ago I had a Scoutmaster tell me “It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.” My aim as a health tech innovator, caregiver, and patient is to use the plethora of accessible patient data and information in the delivery of care.

The Road to Patient Access to Care Records

The $28 billion of incentives paid to hospitals and provider groups under The HITECH Act make it possible for patients to access their health records from a provider. Today a patient can also access their care data stored in health data utility – a local or national ‘clearinghouse’ of patient electronic health information – as legislated by The Cure Act. You can read more here.

Patient access to their data is legislated by HIPAA and enabled by the technology company utilized by a provider, hospital, or health data utility. There are hundreds of technology companies that provide this service and each has a unique browser or mobile app to access patient data. Some apps work well. Some apps struggle to show value.

Health Apps to Access Patient Records

It’s estimated that half of the US population has patient data stored by health systems, provider groups, and other care organizations that license the Epic Systems software. Epic provides a free consumer health app, MyChart by Epic, that provides a gateway to health care organizations utilizing their EHR (electronic health record) software.

The MyChart app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Epic Systems is one of the seven leading technology companies that provide access to patient care data in hospitals and health systems. However, more than 500 additional companies serve the provider groups who care for patients in the community (i.e. ambulatory) setting.

Each of these hundreds of technology companies has unique tools for the patient to access care data. Not all companies make access available via mobile apps, relying instead on web browser access. Again, stuck in 1990s technology.

The typical patient receives care from providers relying on different technology companies – especially patients with multiple chronic conditions. So what can a patient or caregiver do when care data is held across unaligned care teams using disparate technologies?

Access to Consolidated Patient Care Information

Thankfully the 21st Century Cures Act legislation helps patients and providers gain access to care data stored in a health data utility, a clearinghouse for patient care data similar to credit bureau information for consumers. They are also known as an HIE (health information exchange).

We are accustomed to utilities like water, sewer, electricity, gas, trash, and recycling that benefit the community. Technology subscriptions like cable TV, internet, security, and phone service can also be considered utilities. Encouraged by CMS, we have health data utilities.

The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology) under HHS (Department of Health of Human Services) ensures The Cures Act compliance and provides this helpful explanation for patients.

The Cures Act legislates against various methods of “data blocking” so that a patient or their provider can gain access to care data stored across various EHRs in the community, the local health data utility, and even patient data in other states.

There are about 400 active health data utilities gathering and collecting care data on about 98% of the US population. A future post will provide more information about patient access to a health data utility. Here is a state-by-state list published in October 2023.

CMS Apps To Access Patient Data

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the single largest payer for health care in the United States with its Medicare and Medicaid programs. CMS is actively evolving to patient-centered and value-based care with a specific goal that by 2030 all beneficiaries will registered in an accountable care model.

My mom granted me access to her Medicare.gov account so I can review her Medicare claims, prescriptions, provider list, and more. It helps when we talk through her care issues. It is web-based, intuitive, and has a very friendly user interface.

Making Medicare claims data available for the patient was the foundation for the big leap CMS accomplished with Blue Button 2.0 – a platform that permits Medicare users to grant access to a technology company for secure and easy sharing of Medicare claims data. There are many helpful uses for provider teams to know what medications, tests, and more have been performed.

Nearly 100 technology companies have mobile apps available via each Medicare beneficiary’s private account. You can explore for yourself or for a patient that designates you as their Representative.

The EDUCATED Patient

As these capabilities grow in adoption – access to targeted health information and personal care information – the patient or their caregiver will become an active member of the care team and help eliminate waste in the delivery of care. Education comes in two forms: from personal experiences and from the experience of others.

We’ll continue exploring technology issues, capabilities, and advances from the perspective of The Patient.

#eVigils

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AndrewRittler - Chief Executive Officer

Author

Andrew Rittler

Andrew Rittler, Chief Executive Officer, joined MITEM Corporation in 2013 to bring the eVigils platform to market and lead product direction. Andrew has a 35-year history in healthcare technology leading consulting, sales, and service operations.

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