We live in a time when almost everything can be tailored to our personal wants and needs — except the way we access our healthcare information. Next year that will change.
Most health systems still only offer one-size-fits-all, transactional-based patient portals. And while the number of adults nationwide who access those portals has increased in recent years — up 13 percentage points from 2014 to 2020 — usage is still low, with just 38% of Americans accessing their portal in 2020.
New Interoperability Rules & Regulations
But now, new interoperability rules and regulations, based on provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, are being put in place to make it easier for patients to access and exchange their health information with their caregivers. The stars are finally aligning for health systems to meet patients’ expectations of personalized communication and offer an individualized experience.
In a recent webinar, b.well Founder CEO Kristen Valdes shared how health systems can harness this moment, create a real digital platform, and win the race to consumer loyalty.
Paving the Pathway to Consumerism
Several factors have combined to empower patients as consumers, from recent federal rules and regulations to changing consumer sentiments about data privacy.
CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology have published several final and proposed rules that make it easier for patients, providers, and payers to share data safely and in near-real time. Examples include the Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule from 2020 and the information blocking regulations, last updated in October 2022.
In addition to new rules and regulations encouraging the free flow of healthcare data, consumers are open to sharing more of their healthcare data. According to CVS’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study, only 61% of consumers said it was “very important” to keep private health information confidential, down from 80% five years ago. And 59% of consumers said data security was “very important” to them in 2022, down from 76% in 2017. This showcases the opportunity health systems have to build on the growing acceptance of data sharing.
The aging population and rise of the “sandwich generation,” who are caring for both aging parents and their own children, has also increased the need for easier data sharing. Healthcare in America is consumed as a family unit, with women largely managing care for the whole family. Add to that the increasing number of people serving as a caregiver to a friend or loved one. All of these factors combined make the ability to share health information safely with a care team critical for today’s population.
Platforms As a Personalized Digital Home
Health systems that begin prioritizing consumer’s consented access to data will win the race to consumer loyalty and drive network value, setting themselves up for success in 2023 and beyond.
The best way to do so is to move away from transactional, siloed patient portals and toward platforms that gather all digital front door solutions and third-party vendor applications in a single place. In this arrangement, patients can navigate the entire healthcare ecosystem through one platform and securely share information with others as well, facilitating the management of care for a child, parent or loved one.
This level of service is becoming an expectation for consumers in other industries, and is now possible to offer in healthcare because of the new federal interoperability and data-sharing rules.
A digital platform that uses the FHIR standard to enable data sharing from EMRs, payers, and other sources can meet consumer needs in a secure way, while allowing health systems to have a holistic view of their patients’ health habits. It can give a 360-degree view of where patients receive care — including where they go outside of the health system.
That in-depth insight enables health system leaders to see where they’re hitting the mark — and where they may need to add service lines or find new vendor partners to keep patients in their network.
Driving Consumer Loyalty with Interoperability
With a flexible, interoperable platform, health systems can offer a selection of third-party solutions and allow patients to choose which vendor partner best supports their needs. Doing so can drive consumer loyalty. With a platform that houses all health data, allows for appointment scheduling, and more, patients won’t have to — or want to — leave the system’s provider network for care.
Overall, this approach allows health systems to bring the ecosystem closer together around consumers and their families. To learn more about how a secure platform with interoperability across data and systems will drive consumer engagement and shape the future of healthcare, watch this webinar, hosted by b.well CEO Kristen Valdes for Becker’s Hospital Review.