In the prior post I mentioned I was the “Patient Management Officer” here at Hello Health. One of the questions you get asked a lot when you’re a Patient Management Officer is, “What the heck is Patient Management?”
If you’re a doctor you know better than I that healthcare is becoming more consumer-oriented all the time. Patients’ expectations of their doctor – like the “customers” of nearly every service provider – have risen right alongside healthcare costs. The demand for better outcomes and service quality levels that inspire patient loyalty have never been higher, and that’s putting pressure on doctors to go beyond “just” taking care of patient’s basic needs.
The set of activities practices are undertaking to manage and deliver on these rising expectations are sometimes referred to as “patient management.” It’s an approach more than a procedure, really, an orientation to place more focus and attention on the management of patient relationships, rather than just illnesses.
The best patient management programs bring patients into a practice in a meaningful manner – they enhance patient loyalty by contributing meaningfully to both the quality of care and the quality of service, as perceived by the patient.
Think back to how technology first arrived in your practice. It was probably the fax machine, followed closely by a rudimentary billing system on a now-woefully outdated computer, next it was the lab company dropping of another computer for your lab reqs. Today you may or may not have an EMR up and running, and if you are one of the lucky few, you are happy with how things are progressing. But what’s missing in this picture? All of this health IT has been for the benefit of your staff, you, and of course the lab company.
But what’s in it for the patient? More specifically, what’s in it for the person you’re caring for, not just the electronic chart that represents them? In so many cases, the answer is “very little.” That’s why we need to stop thinking about healthcare IT as a general ledger expense and start thinking about it as an asset that enables improved Patient Management.
The time is right to examine more of your practice through the lens of how it creates value for the patients it serves. If you decided to be a primary care doctor you’ve always held those values. Now the technology exists to deliver on that promise, today and every day. Perhaps more than that, people’s expectations of how they communicate, share information and build relationships have changed a lot since the old phone and fax days. It’s time to step into the 21st century.