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Patient Facing Application Considerations for HIT Infrastructure

Organizations need to prepare their HIT infrastructure for patient facing applications as the demand grows for digital tools.

patient facing applications HIT infrastructure

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Patients are growing accustomed to using their personal devices to interact with service providers and retailers in their everyday lives. As consumers, patients can easily use their smartphones to make purchases and consult online catalogues. This ease in interaction between business and consumer is driving the need for HIT infrastructure to support more digital interactions.

Patients want user-friendly ways to digitally fill prescriptions, access test results, and schedule doctors’ appointments, according to NTT DATA Services latest research report.

“Consumer-focused brands with rich, engaging content, interactions and features have changed the landscape in digital customer experience, and healthcare is lagging behind,” NTT DATA Services’ Alan Hughes said in a statement. “As patients seek seamless care to bring together services related to diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and health promotion, healthcare appears ripe for its own digital transformation.”

The research found that most patients would prefer to interact with their healthcare provider through a digital medium, stating that they would be more likely to visit the doctor and keep appointments.

Patients want digital tools that will make it easier to search for a doctor or specialist, access their own health record, make an appointment, access test results, pay bills, and fill prescriptions.

According to the research, 78 percent of patients think that their healthcare digital consumer experience needs to improve. Digital consumer experience is so important to patients today that 50 percent stated that they would leave their current doctor for another practice with a better digital customer experience.

Current tools used for digital customer experience in healthcare often don’t meet the standards patients are accustomed to when using these types of tools in other consumer settings. Sixty-two percent of respondents said that their healthcare tools don’t accomplish what they want them to do and 42 percent don’t find the current digital options relevant enough to be useful. Forty percent of those surveyed also said that digital tools take too long to use, meaning that they are not user-friendly enough to be effective.

Patients are mostly looking to digital tools that will help them better understand and navigate payment options such as affordable care and wellness options. Many patients do not fully understand these concepts or are confident enough in their ability to successfully interact with their insurance company. Using an application that is similar to other consumer applications they use can ease the payment process and eliminate missed payments or mistakes.

Organizations need to assess their current infrastructure to successfully deploy consumer facing tools to streamline patient/clinician interactions. That assessment will also ensure companies have the bandwidth to support the tools and produced data and make sure network security can handle the increased number of devices accessing the network via the public internet.

Cloud will play a large part in these deployments and is also one of the reasons why the healthcare industry lags behind in the adoption of consumer-facing tools compared to other industries.

Traditionally, the healthcare industry has been relatively hesitant to adopt cloud because IT administrators give up the control they have over an on-premises deployment.

Over the past several years though, healthcare organizations have been more likely to adopt the cloud, which gives them a platform to expand their digital infrastructure.

The cloud saves organizations money because they don’t have to invest in on-premises infrastructure to expand and adopt new tools. Cloud-based tools can also be accessed over the public internet, which makes those tools ideal for patients who will be accessing digital applications from their homes.

Organizations also need to consider their network security and how patients will be accessing the network.

Security protocols need to be put in place to protect personal devices that are accessing the secure network. Seeking a cloud service provider that is HIPAA compliant and willing to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) is essential to ensure patient data is protected when accessed outside the network.

The demand for patient facing digital tools makes incorporating them into health IT infrastructure inevitable.

Entities that do not consider digital tools for patients face losing business to organizations that do provide these tools. Patients are looking for a convenient way interact with their care providers and using their smartphones will increase patient satisfaction. 

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