Patient engagement – providing patients with the tools and related programs to help make informed decisions that improve their health – has evolved from important to critical as healthcare shifts from volume- to value-based care.
Patient-provider communication and interaction with health records – two key patient engagement components – are on the rise. According to a CDW Healthcare survey, 63 percent of patients say they speak to providers more frequently than in the past two years, while 59 percent say they access health information more frequently.1
More of these patients communicate and access information with their smartphones than with computers. Research shows 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone,2 and nearly 60 percent of those users manage their health with their phones.3 While this means a mobile-first approach may be the way to go, providers need to be mindful of all their patients' preferences when choosing a communications strategy.
Healthcare organizations that give patients the information they want, in the format they want, stand to benefit most from patient engagement strategies. “It’s the missing link," said Pure Storage product marketing manager Judy Hanover. “We can do everything possible to reduce costs and direct our healthcare dollars, but if patients aren’t engaged, it undermines the goals of value-based care. Providers have to engage with patients and communities, and patients must participate if we are to reach our wellness goals for the community.”
An all-flash data platform provides a strong foundation for patient-engagement initiatives. Flash storage offers the capacity, performance and availability needed for storing and analyzing data gleaned from mobile apps, patient portals, electronic health records, remote patient monitoring devices and telemedicine consultations – data that forms the foundation for patient-engagement strategies.
Capacity and convenience
The average hospital manages hundreds of terabytes of data, and then some. Storing, managing and making use of this data overwhelms many legacy hard disk and hybrid drive systems.
An all-flash data platform not only has the ability to manage big, complex, structured and unstructured data quickly, its set-it-and-forget-it characteristic frees up IT staff for more critical tasks, such as building patient engagement tools. “Data is the new currency for health systems,” said Hanover. “Going forward, we are going to need more apps to support patient engagement, and they will be more data-intensive and customized. This means IT will be stretched further than ever before. But because flash storage is automated, it requires less work to maintain and manage, simplifying the infrastructure behind the new apps.”
Patient-engagement apps and tools have to work 24/7 to be effective. “If a patient needs to check on a prescription or record their weight, and those apps are down, it doesn’t get done and we lose an opportunity to engage with that patient, at what may have been a crucial point in their journey to wellness,” she said. “The patient may abandon the app and never come back.”
Flash storage can offer six-nines of measured availability (99.9999 percent uptime) or more.4 With this high availability, when a patient opens your app at 2AM, she gets access and you get the information. Everyone wins. The battle to succeed at patient engagement means catching patients where, when and how they are willing to participate, which means providing 24/7 access to apps from multiple device types.
The healthcare sector is learning to embrace infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for its efficiency and flexibility. As healthcare administrators fine-tune their patient-engagement strategies, they may test different apps or tools in a staff environment before rollout.
Rolling out apps is simplified in an IaaS environment, giving providers the agility to test new apps and approaches more quickly – particularly in emerging areas such as patient engagement. Flash storage in an IaaS environment allows IT staff to enable apps while keeping data secure, whether or not the storage is on premise.
Patient engagement is a critical component of population health initiatives. To launch successful patient engagement programs, healthcare organizations must collaborate across the health system and the community.
As deductibles increase, patients shop around for the most cost-effective care and may not stay within one health system. A patient may receive treatment in a hospital, at a rehabilitation facility and at home. Separate, siloed databases, therefore, store elements of that patient’s health information.
A robust data platform aggregates data from multiple providers and services to get a 360-degree view of the patient and/or the community. “Being able to integrate information and data from affiliates, as well as the primary care provider and the health system, and put it on one data platform, is valuable for patient engagement,” said Hanover.
“Healthcare providers can customize patient-engagement efforts, enabling a one-to-many approach,” she said. “Analytics helps them identify patients most likely to benefit from more engagement and match them with programs tailored to their preferences, diseases and conditions. And with all the data in one place, time-to-market is quick when providers need to add new apps.”
With a solid data platform, healthcare providers can provide patients with the most effective, reliable engagement strategies. “A lot of healthcare happens in hospitals and in doctor’s offices, but most of it happens at home,” said Hanover. “Patient engagement helps that happen.”
1. Aubrey Westgate. "Eight patient engagement trends to watch." Managed Healthcare Executive, June 23, 2016.
2. Aaron Smith. "Record shares of Americans now own smartphones, have home broadband." Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017.
3. Heather Mack. "Nearly 60 percent of US smartphone owners use phones to manage health." MobiHealthNews, September 15, 2016. Accessed October 17, 2017.
4. “The Top 10 Reasons to Choose a Pure Storage All-Flash Solution for Oracle Database Analytics and Deployments.” Pure Storage white paper, 2017.