Patient Engagement – A Vision For The Near Future

Sally, a mom of 2 teenagers is a software engineer at a large government agency. She is not feeling well today. As busy as she is, she tried to fix the problem with some over the counter drugs. Her condition did not get better, as a matter of fact she got sicker. She calls her primary care physician’s office and schedules an appointment. Her begging and pleading landed her a same day appointment  a mini miracle in her mind. Once she walks in to the physician’s office, she is handed a piece of paper, a pen and clipboard and is asked to fill in a page of detailed personal information. She somehow grinds through it, and turns it in to the front desk lady. She is asked to co-pay her $35. She obliges. Her 2 PM appointment with Dr. Rogers is being delayed. It is almost 2.45 PM, and she is anxious that she will miss her 4 PM meeting back at the office.  She is called in at 2.55 PM, exactly 55 min past time. She weighs in again, and is asked some basic questions by nurse Genie. She already answered these questions in the piece of paper that was handed to her when she walked in. She answers again but did not do much to hide her dissatisfaction. She was asked to go into a room and then Genie checks her for her weight and blood pressure. There is a 5 min wait again. Here comes Dr. Murphy, a bulky southerner with a sweet twang. “What are we here for today”, he asks while glancing at the paper she filled. Sally paraphrases her ailments again. Dr. Murphy inspects her mouth, looks inside her ears, pokes around a bit more (both metaphorically and literally) and hurriedly scribes a prescription. He reminds her to schedule a follow up on his way out. He sees her for about 5 min before moving on to his next patient. Sally rushes back to office, 15 min late for her meeting, cursing at herself on why she went to the doctor in the first place. Welcome to today’s fee for service (FFS) model, where a physician is like a consultant and gets paid by visit regardless of how the patient felt after words or if she or he has been cured.

Imagine an alternate scenario. Sally does not try to self medicate because she knows how easy and predictable a visit to Dr. Murphy’s is. She can tap into the doc’s patient engagement portal in her phone. The portal recognizes her and simply asks if any of her relevant information changed. She guesses and proudly updates her new lighter weight; after all the glutton free diet is making her visibly slimmer than ever before. She uses the scheduler on the portal to secure a date with Dr. Murphy. The app asks her a couple more questions trying to gauge the voracity of her need. It prompts a 3.15 window as it historically showed Dr. Murphy taking more time with patients on that slot as he just finishes a break. Off she hits the road for the meeting. As soon as she walks in, the app realizes that she is in Dr. Murphy’s office. It prompts her, if she is ready and willing to pay her co-pay. She taps yes, and she hears a small ring confirming the invoice came back to her mail inbox. She is prompted by the patient portal app to get on any of the weighing scale and the blood pressure tracking devices left in the waiting area. She records her measures in the patient portal and grabs a magazine and sits down. She is 15 min early after all. She gets an automatic alert that Dr. Murphy is running 5 min behind schedule. In 3 min, she gets another ping asking her to go through the door in the back. The receptionist smiles and says, “Good luck Ms Sally” as she walks past the glass paneled back door. She is greeted by Dr. Murphy, who says that based on empirical and evidence based data, you may have the flu. He double checks and confirms that’s the case. Based on her psychography profile and her past tendencies to skip out on traditional medicines, Dr. Murphy conducts a quick call with an alternative medicine practitioner Dr. Shah, who looks at the same medical history, patient info and doctor’s notes as Dr. Murphy did. He suggests 2 herbal medicines, which she agrees to take. Dr. Shah orders those medicines, sally gets a beep in the portal asking her if she accepts the charges, she says yes, and voila the herbs gets shipped to her home. Sally eaves for office and had enough time to grab a chai tea latte from Starbucks before heading to her 4 PM meeting.

The alternate scenario is not some far flung future story. We, at Patient Connect 360, believe it is the near future of patient engagement; a platform driven by mobility, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning which promotes customer satisfaction, high quality, innovative and effective solutions, collaboration and  service delivery at a low cost. For folks who follow US health care closely, they are aware of a legendary ruling called MACRA in 2015. It basically started the shift of the Medicare reimbursement model from a fee for services (FFS) to value based reimbursement. The scope of MACRA is so deep that it requires a full writeup on how it interlocks with patient engagement. But, we believe that legacy EMR providers and prominent providers in this space are not positioned well enough to truly service and excel at core components of MACRA. Also, the platforms of the future would not only just seek to support value based reimbursement, but use the opportunity to truly build a platform that takes away the walls between care providers and patients. An AI and machine learning driven solution is just that.

AnirbanAbout The Author: Anirban Dutta co-founded a software consulting company called CompuMatrice and grew it from a zero revenue to a multi-million-dollar business. A former executive with IBM, CSC and Satyam, Anirban also co-authored a leading technology deal making book published by John Wiley & Sons called ‘Winning Strategies: Secrets to Clinching Multimillion Dollar Deals’.He is currently pursuing the creation of a new venture, a forward looking patient engagement software platform called Patient Connect 360. The secured cloud based platform, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning seeks to create a learning software, that gets better and smarter the more it gets used in providing value based service. He can be reached at dutta@compumatrice.com

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