With another spate of meaningful use deadlines coming in 2015, hospitals and other health care providers may find themselves thinking, as Yoko Ono once said, “The thing that would most improve my life is 27 hours in a day. I could meet all my deadlines.”
But, extracting meaningful use from EHRs is not just about the time between today and the next deadline; it’s about using the collected EHR data to improve the outcomes of individual patients and general population health. For example, how can your organization leverage patient data and insights into consumer attitudes about health to make a positive impact during this month’s recognition of Cervical Health Awareness?
Improving Disease Prevention and Early Detection
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition states that, “Cervical cancer is completely preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early.” That’s a bold statement considering that at one time, according to cancer.org, it was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. Still, there’s a big difference between being preventable and actual prevention — and it hinges on patient activation.
While the death rate has fallen by half in the last 30 years, more than 4,000 women still succumb to the disease annually, in large part because older women mistakenly believe that the risk of developing cervical cancer diminishes as they age. In order to completely eliminate cervical cancer, health care providers need to develop lifelong engagement with women— from increasing the numbers of young women who receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to ensuring that women continue to have recommended screenings.
How do you get the right message to the right person at the right time — especially when you have such a diverse audience?
Washington State Building Patient Registries
In Washington State, the Group Health Cooperative is creating customized patient registries and documentation tools within its EHR to facilitate both point-of-care consultations as well as population outreach. According to a Healthcare Informatics article published last year, GHC is “aiming to transform care through population health management.”
The experienced accountable care provider and health plan organization is using several specialized tools, such as:
- Tracking medication adherence and drug effectiveness among multiple sclerosis patients. The system has built-in alerts to ensure that intervention takes place earlier.
- Embedding notifications in clinical workflows. By cross-referencing the registries a patient is on with appointment lists, physicians are better informed during patient visits, addressing issues that used to present a gap in care continuity.
Sarah Miller, the executive director of GHC’s Care IT Delivery Department noted that, “some people think of population health as patients using mobile apps and that sort of thing. But even though we have [those tools], that’s not what we’re building here. Most of our population health tools are really just a part of regular care.”
In addition to physicians being up-to-date during patient visits, the tools can also alert support staff of the need to reach out to patients by phone or secure messaging. GHC has also collaborated with other health systems representing more than 16 million members to build a diabetes registry using de-identified patient data. One of the largest registries of its kind, the SUPREME-DM DataLink was singled out as “a unique and powerful resource to conduct population-based diabetes research and clinical trials” by the CDC.
Deeper Patient Insights from Consumer Research
Developing the right tools within your EHR, including alerts, is a good first step towards actively engaging patients — whether for intervention to prevent cervical cancer or for management of a chronic illness like diabetes. But a message that resonates with one at-risk patient may not move another one. By understanding what motivates patients on a deeper level, health care providers can fine-tune their approaches to maximize the impact.
The PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic measures consumers’ health and wellness attitudes through psychographic segmentation in addition to demographic and socioeconomic factors. The Consumer Diagnostic looks at the general population, but it also looks at populations with specific health considerations — including cancer — to identify how dealing with a diagnosis of a disease impacts behaviors and priorities.
Armed with these consumer insights, health care providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and others can develop more effective strategies that speak to individuals in a more meaningful way to encourage behaviors that can wipe out cervical cancer for good.