As part of the process of setting our broader research agenda at Chilmark Research, we do a significant amount of secondary research combined with more limited, but highly focused primary research. We use this research to identify the “white spaces” where there appears to be a demand for some thoughtful, in-depth research and reporting that only an analyst firm such as Chilmark can provide. During that process, however, we often uncover some interesting trends similar to the HIE Snippets of the previous post.
Chilmark continues to follow the patient engagement realm, from mHealth Apps to PHRs, patient portals and personal health platforms such as Dossia and HealthVault. Recently, we have been receiving a significant number of inquiries from healthcare organizations that are developing IT strategies to meet Stage 2 meaningful use criteria to provide patients online access to their personal health information (PHI). We are also beginning to hear very early rumblings by a few forward thinking organizations on the use of new technology platforms, particularly mobile, to more deeply engage patients in managing their health in conjunction with impending value-based contracts. There have also been several announcements lately of roll-outs of Epic’s mobile patient engagement platform My Health. Lastly, earlier this week we had the pleasure to attend GE Healthcare’s Centricity Business National User’s Conference where we sat in on several patient engagement presentations. Following are some of the trends we are seeing that will be foundational to our future research on the topic:
HIE Vendors not up to task: A number of large healthcare organizations that have grown organically and through acquisition have a multitude of legacy IT systems from numerous vendors (not everyone is going Epic) in place. These organizations are now looking to link these systems together with an HIE solution and while they are at it, want to be able to provide patient access to their PHI. Problem is, most leading HIE vendors that have proven solutions for interfacing to multiple systems typically have poor patient-centric solutions. There are exceptions to every rule and companies such as RelayHealth and Kryptiq offer quite capable patient portals combined with secure messaging. But for those HIE solutions that lack such capabilities, healthcare organizations are having to look elsewhere to fulfill this need which is bringing business to MEDSEEK and Intuit Health.
Patient Portals interface first to transactions: Several of the presentations at the Centricity event were given by organizations with distinct clinical and administrative systems. Maybe it was just the venue, it was a Centricity Business Users’ Conference after all, but in each presentation on patient engagement the patient portal was driven from the admin-side. Sure, the portal could provide labs and some basic clinical data but it was really designed to help with the pre-registration process, appointment scheduling, secure messaging and Rx refill requests. Each organization we spoke to have plans to bring clinicals (some had Epic for clinicals, others Cerner) into the portal in the future to facilitate care processes for the truly sick, but that is a second order priority. This raises the question: Will front-end admin solutions, like Centricity’s Business Suite, become the core patient portal at the expense of those developed and offered by those from the clinical side of the fence?
Still in very, very early stages of mHealth App adoption: As mentioned previously, a number of organizations (Group Health Collaborative, Kaiser-Permanente, Stanford, UPenn Medical Center, etc.) have announced the release of an mHealth App for patient engagement, virtually all of them, My Chart instances. These releases are basically a mirroring of what is being done with patient portals mentioned above – enable transactional processes. We have yet to see anything, at any organization that has gone beyond pilot stage (e.g.WellDoc in Baltimore) in the deployment of a mHealth App to address a large at-risk population. This is puzzling for as we move to value-based contracts and accountable care, healthcare organizations will need to seriously rethink how they deliver health to chronic disease patients not just in the exam room, but at the patient’s home, in their car at work, wherever they may be to ensure compliance. mHealth can play a very effective role here but organizations’ reluctance to adopt is a chicken and egg scenario. There is not enough evidence to prove efficacy of mHealth Apps but if they don’t adopt, the evidence will not present itself. This will eventually break-thru, the question now is simply, when? And based on what we have seen in healthcare IT adoption to date, it could be a much longer wait than many VC firms and entrepreneurs currently have in their financial models.