7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Digital Care Journey Platform7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Digital Care Journey Platform
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7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Digital Care Journey Platform

July 15, 2022
By
Rachel Subramaniam

With the shift toward value-based care, many health systems are looking at leveraging technology in order to standardize healthcare delivery at a system-wide level. Currently, the digital health industry is valued at $350 billion globally - a number that is expected to grow by 8% per annum across multiple subcategories. To meet the increasingly high expectations of the healthcare consumer, organizations are expected to accelerate the digitization of many of their processes in order to increase access to care and overall convenience for both the patient and the provider. Digital care journey platforms are gaining popularity as essential components of the health system’s digital front door strategy to improve care delivery, enhance the patient and staff experience, maximize operational efficiencies, and improve outcomes. Deploying a digital care journey platform presents providers with a scalable way to stay connected with patients before, during and after hospitalization. However, selecting the right technology, and the right partner can feel overwhelming, so prior to investing in a platform, it is imperative to ask the following seven questions:

1. What evidence has been published about the solution that highlights operational efficiencies, patient results and outcomes?

This is an important question to ask when evaluating digital patient engagement technologies like digital care journey platforms. One way to understand the impact of a solution is to review the body of evidence published and validated by clinical research - specifically, are there academic studies, manuscripts, and abstracts published that validate that the solution has the proven ability to improve outcomes. For example, are there published articles highlighting research results from health systems pertaining to cost-benefit analysis of patient engagement technology, or the value of an interactive phone application in an established enhanced recovery program on well-known trusted peer-reviewed sites such as The American Journal of Surgery, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Journal of Surgical Research, International Journal of Colorectal Disease, and more. Reviewing published studies and case studies will provide you with the confidence that the vendor has a deep understanding of the market, experience collaborating with health systems, focus on improving patient outcomes and that solution can help you achieve your desired outcomes. .

At SeamlessMD, we have collaborated with dozens of hospitals and health systems across North America to help them reduce readmissions, shorten length of stay, and lower costs.

Multicare:

  • ↓ 0.38 days Length of Stay
  • ↓ 37% 30-day readmissions
  • ↓ 39% 90-day readmissions

UAB Medicine:

  • ​​94.7% patient adoption
  • Colorectal: reduced length of stay by 1 day

University Hospitals

  • Reduced readmissions by 49%
  • Decreased ED Visits by 68%
  • Minimized phone calls by 59%
  • Reduced discharge to skilled nursing facilities by 52%

2. Over time, will our total cost of ownership decrease?

In the long-term, investing in the right technology can help reduce the overall costs of treatment and improve patient outcomes. Degenerative diseases lead to an increased financial burden to patients and the healthcare system, but the right technology will allow clinicians to more effectively treat patients and quicken recovery - therefore decreasing the burden of high costs in the long-run. Digital patient engagement platforms help to catch complications before they escalate to high-cost services such as readmissions, and ED visits These platforms also help hospitals reduce surgical backlogs, and help to manage patients beyond the four walls of the hospital.

Enterprise-focused digital care journey platforms offer the flexibility and scalability to expand across the entire health system - essentially, one system-wide platform for multiple service lines. Ultimately standardizing on one solution reduces the total cost of technical ownership and maintenance over time by streamlining training, patient enrollment and activation, as well as integration with leading EHR solutions such as Epic, Cerner, Meditech, and others.

Selecting a vendor that provides a high-touch service partnership, including dedicated Customer Success Managers, Patient Education Specialists, and other resources also result in lower total cost of ownership. It is pertinent that the vendor you select will work collaboratively with your team to develop all of the content, and take on the brunt of the heavy lifting, leveraging their evidence-based library and their experience working with other health systems.

As Dr. Daniel Chu, Vice-Chair of Health Services Research at UAB Medicine explained during a recent webinar titled How Atrium Health and UAB Medicine Are Using Digital Care Journeys to Improve Quality and Patient Safety, “we just published on PubMed that we are able to see significant cost benefits for colorectal, for thoracic surgery, and even for cardiac surgery despite the upfront costs of these programs, which I'll put out there isn't as much as a da Vinci robot.”  

For example, the implementation of SeamlessMD has resulted in cost savings at UAB Medicine across multiple programs:

  • Thoracic: lowered the cost per patient by $8,100
  • Cardiac: lowered the cost per patient by $4,576
  • Colorectal: lowered the cost per patient by $1,369

3. Does the solution provide enough flexibility and breadth to support our needs today and scale across the system as our needs evolve?

Future-proofing your investment by selecting the right solution and partner who can evolve as your needs evolve is key. The right partner will deliver both a proven, effective technology platform coupled with a high-quality professional services team who have a track record of proven implementations and a playbook of patient enrollment best practices to maximize your success.

Key technology and services traits you should expect in a reliable vendor partner are as follows::

  • A cross-platform solution available across smartphones, tablets and computers - both as Apple/Android apps and via the web browser
  • One system-wide solution that can easily scale across the health system for multiple service lines covering chronic care, surgery, oncology, women's health and behavioural health
  • Caregiver access - an additional caregiver user experience for patients who need a loved one to use the platform with them or on their behalf entirely; this allows patients and families with variable access to technology to utilize the program.
  • Support for health literacy enabling you to serve all patient populations
  • Remote patient monitoring capabilities
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) compliance tracking
  • Automated patient-reported outcomes or PROs

Another key consideration - does the platform integrate with leading Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems? While you may choose not to integrate the platform with your EHR until later in the future, it is in your best interest to select a platform that you are confident can fit your EHR integration needs in the future. This means selecting a vendor that can easily integrate with leading EHRs such as Epic, MyChart, Cerner, Meditech, AllScripts, amongst others.

As Ben Chao, President, CareConnect at MultiCare explained during a recent webinar titled How MultiCare Health System Delivers Digital Care Journeys to Optimize the Patient Experience,

“Using SMART on FHIR integration via the App Orchard, providers can monitor patients without leaving Epic. Being able to either launch SeamlessMD from our instance of MyChart on the patient side or to really pursue that information in more of an omnichannel manner, whether it's with SeamlessMD's separate native application or through more of a web-based microsite specific to the patient, meant that we are going to see value in triggers and nudges to the patients in a wide variety of different origination pathways.”

Look for platforms that are already listed as validated integration partners. For example:

4. Is there ready-made content available out-of-the-box for multiple specialties?  

Rather than reinventing the wheel, solutions that offer customizable out-of-the-box, evidence-based care plans for different care pathways (e.g. knee replacement, open heart surgery, colorectal, oncology, women’s health, etc.) accelerate the implementation of digital care journeys saving your team time and money. Partnering with a vendor that provides care plan templates means your team does not need to create the content from scratch enabling you to deploy in as little as 60 to 90 days.

A flexible platform will also allow you to customize the care plans to match any differences in your protocols and workflows.An experienced partner with clinical experience on staff will provide care plans that:

  • Are evidence-based (i.e. developed by individuals with clinical experience and based on the medical literature)
  • Meet guidelines for health literacy (e.g. Grade 6 reading level)

5. Does the vendor offer a training program or have resources and  protocols in place to provide training and best practices on patient enrollment?

The success of deploying a digital care journey platform is tightly correlated with effective collaboration between your staff and care teams; therefore, taking the time to properly train staff members on their responsibilities will pay dividends on the success of the initiative.

Depending on the role and expectations for your staff members, various personnel will need to be trained on the following processes:

  1. How to educate patients about the platform and overall initiative
  2. How to enroll a patient on the platform backend
  3. How to manage alerts and monitor patient status on dashboards (as needed).

Choose a partner that not only provides a high-touch implementation process and traditional technical support, but a program that also provides strategic, on-going services after program launch - such as a dedicated customer success team, continuous monthly and quarterly program reviews, best practice sharing from other hospitals, data reporting support, talking scripts for patient enrollment and so on.

Keep in mind that you are doing this for the first time, and any initiative of this type will have its own challenges. Being able to lean on a partner that can provide strategic advisory services will allow your team to troubleshoot issues faster and get maximum value from your digital care journey platform sooner.

6. Does the vendor have a track record of high patient enrollment, engagement, and satisfaction?

Choose a partner with a large body of clinical evidence and customer success stories. We recommend choosing a partner with at least 10 clinical studies or evaluations showing improvements across a wide range of specialties and outcome metrics (e.g. LOS, readmissions, ER visits, costs).

In particular, choose a partner who has had success with organizations similar to yours - a platform that has worked well for an academic, urban hospital may not be the right fit for a rural, community hospital.

SeamlessMD is an example of a platform that has high customer satisfaction, as seen in patient satisfaction and engagement metrics. For example, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has a 90% activation rate with 91% of enrolled patients feeling more confident before surgery, and 97% of patients feeling more confident at home after surgery.

An open heart surgery patient from UH enrolled on SeamlessMD expressed their satisfaction, sharing:

“Really enjoyed this program, it’s so useful in so many ways, it’s hard to pick just one thing I liked most! The daily health check helped me feel secure that if something was wrong I would get immediate follow up from the nurse/doctor. Also, ease of access to information all about my procedure & aftercare.”

Also, digital care journey platforms that gain recognition from reputable organizations that regularly assess the market help to strengthen credibility. For example, SeamlessMD was recently recognized in AVIA Connect’s “The Top 50 Remote Monitoring Companies Report” representing the aggregation and analysis of over 1,000 health system implementation data points and highlighting broader industry trends to contextualize the impact the companies and products are currently having in the space.

7. How will deploying digital care journeys align with your organizational goals and broader digital front door strategy?

Most healthcare organizations are embracing digital solutions in order to better provide exceptional care for patients and to be at the forefront of innovation. This involves evolving your health system’s digital front door strategy to go beyond just the start and end of the patient’s care journey by engaging patients throughout. By using personal devices such as smartphones, tablets or computers, patients receive clinical support and medical guidance between visits right from the convenience of their own homes. Patients can also use digital care journeys to help overcome patient anxiety and concerns they might have before, during or after procedures.

Digital care journey platforms like SeamlessMD help strengthen the organization’s digital front door strategy by reducing uncertainty and providing patients with accessible, evidence-based education through an online platform, which helps patients:

  • Educate themselves
  • Prepare for surgery
  • Self-manage aspects of their recovery
  • Stay on track with their care plan with just-in-time reminders
  • Track recovery symptoms (e.g. pain levels, surgical incision photos, etc.)
  • Receive automated guidance.

Implementing digital care journeys as part of an overall front door strategy is essential for patient acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.

For more insights on how forward-thinking healthcare organizations are deploying Digital Care Journeys download our eBook The Role of Digital Care Journeys in a Health System’s Front Door Strategy.

7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Digital Care Journey Platform

Posted by:
Rachel Subramaniam
on
July 15, 2022

With the shift toward value-based care, many health systems are looking at leveraging technology in order to standardize healthcare delivery at a system-wide level. Currently, the digital health industry is valued at $350 billion globally - a number that is expected to grow by 8% per annum across multiple subcategories. To meet the increasingly high expectations of the healthcare consumer, organizations are expected to accelerate the digitization of many of their processes in order to increase access to care and overall convenience for both the patient and the provider. Digital care journey platforms are gaining popularity as essential components of the health system’s digital front door strategy to improve care delivery, enhance the patient and staff experience, maximize operational efficiencies, and improve outcomes. Deploying a digital care journey platform presents providers with a scalable way to stay connected with patients before, during and after hospitalization. However, selecting the right technology, and the right partner can feel overwhelming, so prior to investing in a platform, it is imperative to ask the following seven questions:

1. What evidence has been published about the solution that highlights operational efficiencies, patient results and outcomes?

This is an important question to ask when evaluating digital patient engagement technologies like digital care journey platforms. One way to understand the impact of a solution is to review the body of evidence published and validated by clinical research - specifically, are there academic studies, manuscripts, and abstracts published that validate that the solution has the proven ability to improve outcomes. For example, are there published articles highlighting research results from health systems pertaining to cost-benefit analysis of patient engagement technology, or the value of an interactive phone application in an established enhanced recovery program on well-known trusted peer-reviewed sites such as The American Journal of Surgery, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Journal of Surgical Research, International Journal of Colorectal Disease, and more. Reviewing published studies and case studies will provide you with the confidence that the vendor has a deep understanding of the market, experience collaborating with health systems, focus on improving patient outcomes and that solution can help you achieve your desired outcomes. .

At SeamlessMD, we have collaborated with dozens of hospitals and health systems across North America to help them reduce readmissions, shorten length of stay, and lower costs.

Multicare:

  • ↓ 0.38 days Length of Stay
  • ↓ 37% 30-day readmissions
  • ↓ 39% 90-day readmissions

UAB Medicine:

  • ​​94.7% patient adoption
  • Colorectal: reduced length of stay by 1 day

University Hospitals

  • Reduced readmissions by 49%
  • Decreased ED Visits by 68%
  • Minimized phone calls by 59%
  • Reduced discharge to skilled nursing facilities by 52%

2. Over time, will our total cost of ownership decrease?

In the long-term, investing in the right technology can help reduce the overall costs of treatment and improve patient outcomes. Degenerative diseases lead to an increased financial burden to patients and the healthcare system, but the right technology will allow clinicians to more effectively treat patients and quicken recovery - therefore decreasing the burden of high costs in the long-run. Digital patient engagement platforms help to catch complications before they escalate to high-cost services such as readmissions, and ED visits These platforms also help hospitals reduce surgical backlogs, and help to manage patients beyond the four walls of the hospital.

Enterprise-focused digital care journey platforms offer the flexibility and scalability to expand across the entire health system - essentially, one system-wide platform for multiple service lines. Ultimately standardizing on one solution reduces the total cost of technical ownership and maintenance over time by streamlining training, patient enrollment and activation, as well as integration with leading EHR solutions such as Epic, Cerner, Meditech, and others.

Selecting a vendor that provides a high-touch service partnership, including dedicated Customer Success Managers, Patient Education Specialists, and other resources also result in lower total cost of ownership. It is pertinent that the vendor you select will work collaboratively with your team to develop all of the content, and take on the brunt of the heavy lifting, leveraging their evidence-based library and their experience working with other health systems.

As Dr. Daniel Chu, Vice-Chair of Health Services Research at UAB Medicine explained during a recent webinar titled How Atrium Health and UAB Medicine Are Using Digital Care Journeys to Improve Quality and Patient Safety, “we just published on PubMed that we are able to see significant cost benefits for colorectal, for thoracic surgery, and even for cardiac surgery despite the upfront costs of these programs, which I'll put out there isn't as much as a da Vinci robot.”  

For example, the implementation of SeamlessMD has resulted in cost savings at UAB Medicine across multiple programs:

  • Thoracic: lowered the cost per patient by $8,100
  • Cardiac: lowered the cost per patient by $4,576
  • Colorectal: lowered the cost per patient by $1,369

3. Does the solution provide enough flexibility and breadth to support our needs today and scale across the system as our needs evolve?

Future-proofing your investment by selecting the right solution and partner who can evolve as your needs evolve is key. The right partner will deliver both a proven, effective technology platform coupled with a high-quality professional services team who have a track record of proven implementations and a playbook of patient enrollment best practices to maximize your success.

Key technology and services traits you should expect in a reliable vendor partner are as follows::

  • A cross-platform solution available across smartphones, tablets and computers - both as Apple/Android apps and via the web browser
  • One system-wide solution that can easily scale across the health system for multiple service lines covering chronic care, surgery, oncology, women's health and behavioural health
  • Caregiver access - an additional caregiver user experience for patients who need a loved one to use the platform with them or on their behalf entirely; this allows patients and families with variable access to technology to utilize the program.
  • Support for health literacy enabling you to serve all patient populations
  • Remote patient monitoring capabilities
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) compliance tracking
  • Automated patient-reported outcomes or PROs

Another key consideration - does the platform integrate with leading Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems? While you may choose not to integrate the platform with your EHR until later in the future, it is in your best interest to select a platform that you are confident can fit your EHR integration needs in the future. This means selecting a vendor that can easily integrate with leading EHRs such as Epic, MyChart, Cerner, Meditech, AllScripts, amongst others.

As Ben Chao, President, CareConnect at MultiCare explained during a recent webinar titled How MultiCare Health System Delivers Digital Care Journeys to Optimize the Patient Experience,

“Using SMART on FHIR integration via the App Orchard, providers can monitor patients without leaving Epic. Being able to either launch SeamlessMD from our instance of MyChart on the patient side or to really pursue that information in more of an omnichannel manner, whether it's with SeamlessMD's separate native application or through more of a web-based microsite specific to the patient, meant that we are going to see value in triggers and nudges to the patients in a wide variety of different origination pathways.”

Look for platforms that are already listed as validated integration partners. For example:

4. Is there ready-made content available out-of-the-box for multiple specialties?  

Rather than reinventing the wheel, solutions that offer customizable out-of-the-box, evidence-based care plans for different care pathways (e.g. knee replacement, open heart surgery, colorectal, oncology, women’s health, etc.) accelerate the implementation of digital care journeys saving your team time and money. Partnering with a vendor that provides care plan templates means your team does not need to create the content from scratch enabling you to deploy in as little as 60 to 90 days.

A flexible platform will also allow you to customize the care plans to match any differences in your protocols and workflows.An experienced partner with clinical experience on staff will provide care plans that:

  • Are evidence-based (i.e. developed by individuals with clinical experience and based on the medical literature)
  • Meet guidelines for health literacy (e.g. Grade 6 reading level)

5. Does the vendor offer a training program or have resources and  protocols in place to provide training and best practices on patient enrollment?

The success of deploying a digital care journey platform is tightly correlated with effective collaboration between your staff and care teams; therefore, taking the time to properly train staff members on their responsibilities will pay dividends on the success of the initiative.

Depending on the role and expectations for your staff members, various personnel will need to be trained on the following processes:

  1. How to educate patients about the platform and overall initiative
  2. How to enroll a patient on the platform backend
  3. How to manage alerts and monitor patient status on dashboards (as needed).

Choose a partner that not only provides a high-touch implementation process and traditional technical support, but a program that also provides strategic, on-going services after program launch - such as a dedicated customer success team, continuous monthly and quarterly program reviews, best practice sharing from other hospitals, data reporting support, talking scripts for patient enrollment and so on.

Keep in mind that you are doing this for the first time, and any initiative of this type will have its own challenges. Being able to lean on a partner that can provide strategic advisory services will allow your team to troubleshoot issues faster and get maximum value from your digital care journey platform sooner.

6. Does the vendor have a track record of high patient enrollment, engagement, and satisfaction?

Choose a partner with a large body of clinical evidence and customer success stories. We recommend choosing a partner with at least 10 clinical studies or evaluations showing improvements across a wide range of specialties and outcome metrics (e.g. LOS, readmissions, ER visits, costs).

In particular, choose a partner who has had success with organizations similar to yours - a platform that has worked well for an academic, urban hospital may not be the right fit for a rural, community hospital.

SeamlessMD is an example of a platform that has high customer satisfaction, as seen in patient satisfaction and engagement metrics. For example, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has a 90% activation rate with 91% of enrolled patients feeling more confident before surgery, and 97% of patients feeling more confident at home after surgery.

An open heart surgery patient from UH enrolled on SeamlessMD expressed their satisfaction, sharing:

“Really enjoyed this program, it’s so useful in so many ways, it’s hard to pick just one thing I liked most! The daily health check helped me feel secure that if something was wrong I would get immediate follow up from the nurse/doctor. Also, ease of access to information all about my procedure & aftercare.”

Also, digital care journey platforms that gain recognition from reputable organizations that regularly assess the market help to strengthen credibility. For example, SeamlessMD was recently recognized in AVIA Connect’s “The Top 50 Remote Monitoring Companies Report” representing the aggregation and analysis of over 1,000 health system implementation data points and highlighting broader industry trends to contextualize the impact the companies and products are currently having in the space.

7. How will deploying digital care journeys align with your organizational goals and broader digital front door strategy?

Most healthcare organizations are embracing digital solutions in order to better provide exceptional care for patients and to be at the forefront of innovation. This involves evolving your health system’s digital front door strategy to go beyond just the start and end of the patient’s care journey by engaging patients throughout. By using personal devices such as smartphones, tablets or computers, patients receive clinical support and medical guidance between visits right from the convenience of their own homes. Patients can also use digital care journeys to help overcome patient anxiety and concerns they might have before, during or after procedures.

Digital care journey platforms like SeamlessMD help strengthen the organization’s digital front door strategy by reducing uncertainty and providing patients with accessible, evidence-based education through an online platform, which helps patients:

  • Educate themselves
  • Prepare for surgery
  • Self-manage aspects of their recovery
  • Stay on track with their care plan with just-in-time reminders
  • Track recovery symptoms (e.g. pain levels, surgical incision photos, etc.)
  • Receive automated guidance.

Implementing digital care journeys as part of an overall front door strategy is essential for patient acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.

For more insights on how forward-thinking healthcare organizations are deploying Digital Care Journeys download our eBook The Role of Digital Care Journeys in a Health System’s Front Door Strategy.

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