Here is a short story of healthcare technology evolution in the US:
While most US industries were already taking care of automated transactions and data in 1990, health care organizations were struggling with paper clips to electronic conversion of medical records. However, in 1991 a publication came into picture: The Computer-Based Patient Record: An Essential Technology for Health Care, this publication introduced the blueprint for introducing computerized patient records, including privacy and confidentiality concerns.
The Institute of Medicine’s Computer-based Patient Record (CPR) committee defined the CPR as an “electronic patient record (ie, a repository of health care information about a single patient) that resides in a system specifically designed to support users through availability of complete and accurate data, alerts, reminders, clinical decision support systems, links to medical knowledge, and other aids.”
The CPRs created the first wave of healthcare technology that made EHR software accessible and affordable even to private medical practices.
Introduced in 1996, HIPAA law went into effect. As a result, EHR system security was upgraded to include the standardization of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards such as roles-based access control, automatic data backups, audit trails, automatic log-offs, and data encryption.
During the 2000s, many different systems were replaced by integrated EHR systems in which all the patient’s clinical, financial, and administrative data was placed together. Consequently, interoperability became a buzzword as health care professionals realized the benefits of seamlessly exchanging patient data internally and externally, within and across care settings, from one EHR system to another. In another noteworthy development, the acronym CPR gave way to EHR or EMR.
The acronym CPR gave way to EHR or EMR.
By the end of 2010, internet and mobile technologies have evolved at a lightening pace and secure messaging in healthcare had become a thing. EHRs were quick to add secure messaging on top of their existing integrated systems, but lack of patient adoption let it remain as a low key module in their integrated systems.
Then came the era of more healthcare IT boom, more and more mobile technologies started to pop-up every single day. There were different types of secure messaging introduced:
- Doctor to Patient
- Doctor to Doctor (in-office)
- Doctor to Staff (in-office)
- Doctor to Referral Doctor (external)
- Pharmacy to Patient
- Pharmacy to Doctor (prescription related)
and so on.......It kept going on and on, the market kept coming up with more and more solutions, meanwhile just confusing healthcare buyers on what is the right type of secure messaging.
Right now, we are living in this era.....everyone knows what is secure messaging, but no one clearly knows what is the right type of secure messaging.
Understanding that secure messaging is a subset of the entire healthcare communication and making that association before making any buying decision on communication technology is the most important thing.
There is only one metric that defines the success of secure messaging solutions in the healthcare communication space and this is "Patient Adoption", which brings this question: are you looking for a solution that has adoption or a solution that has all the integrations?
Patient Adoption should be your only success metric for a communication solution.
In the ideal world, you want a solution that has adoption as well as integration, but please do not prioritize integration over adoption if you have a choice. A system that is not used by patients is as good as nothing with or without the integrations.
A system that is not used by patients is as good as nothing with or without the integrations.
In my humble opinion, a successful communication technology riding over secure messaging won't be successful without these pieces:
- Structured data clustering (Ask this question: Are you able to separate all communication by each patient?)
- Workflow and triaging capabilities (Ask this question: Can each step in the communication be assigned to the right person in the healthcare organization? For e.g. a billing related communication goes to billing department Vs a scheduling related communication goes to the scheduling department.)
- Care coordination (Ask this question: Can the entire communication consist of everyone involved in patient's journey? For e.g. Physicians, admin staff, pharmacies, labs, referral physicians etc. everyone in one place.)
- Patient centric (Ask this question: Is the solution not only easy to use but also gives clear transparency to patient in terms of care process and care team involved?)
- Comprehensiveness (Ask this question: Can the solution capture all the current modes of communications with patients in one place? Would it capture all traffic coming on the phones, emails or website?)