“The health system of the future will be consumer-centric, wellness oriented, care everywhere and digitally connected.” The American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation September 2019 report on digital innovation articulates that vision for participatory health, where the current health care delivery model driven by providers will be replaced with a consumer-driven model. 

The foundation of such a health system is patient engagement and activation. Understanding that patients are not simply the passive objects, or purchasers, of a health system’s services but are active, participatory partners in the pursuit of better health.

Hospitals and health systems are beginning to dip their toes into the consumerism waters. More and more are hiring chief experience officers, and many have patient portals or mobile apps to communicate with patients outside of the hospital’s four walls. But, institutions that think they are empowering and engaging patients to be partners in care simply by deploying a patient portal or mobile app or some other consumerism tool or feature are making the mistake of thinking technology without strategy is sufficient. The result is use of a technology tool du jour with little meaningful impact on care outcomes. 

In health care, much more is stake than in other industries where consumer-focused technologies have become commonplace. Industries such as online retail, hospitality and banking. The goals of patient engagement are partnership and empowerment to achieve better health outcomes. The goals are not loyalty, convenience and satisfaction, although those are important components. A consumer can engage with his or her bank almost entirely and satisfactorily without connecting with a banking professional. In many ways, eliminating the human interaction is almost the point of online and mobile banking. The same cannot be said about health care.

Rethinking and redesigning the patient experience must begin with a recognition that health care is different. While today’s health care consumers indeed expect convenience and information and services on demand and form brand loyalty based on perception and experience, their expectations do not end there. They also expect to be cared for, respected, valued and treated as individuals and to be made well.

Thoughtful and intentional patient engagement strategy, therefore, must bring together hospital marketing, communications, operations and clinical teams and ask the question, “what do our patients need in order to become healthier and more engaged in their care?” It also involves measurement and analytics. Are patients indeed becoming healthier? Have readmissions declined? Are we improving treatment plan compliance?

The contemporary tactics and tools of consumerism – personalization, digital targeting, convenience, data-driven behavior insights – have an important role to play in patient engagement strategy. But, the patient, not the technology, must have the starring role.Amrit Kirpalani is the CEO of Dallas-based NectarOM, an omnichannel personalization company that works with health care organizations to create a 360-degree view of their patients to grow their loyalty and satisfaction and improve health care outcomes.

NectarOM Health Automates Patient Outreach and Engagement to Better Manage Post- Discharge Care and Reduce Readmissions 

Oct. 2, 2019 (Dallas, Texas) – 230 Texas hospitals will see their Medicare payments reduced by up to 3 percent for 2020 as a penalty for having an excess number of patients return to the hospital following treatment. Despite a decade of improvement, hospitals’ ability to continue reducing avoidable readmissions requires new investment in technology solutions. 

With increasing focus on consumerism in health care, hospital leaders are looking more at technology systems that have worked in other industries to enhance customer loyalty and retention and improve the customer experience. NectarOM, a leader in customer engagement technology in the retail and hospitality industries has entered the health care space with large organizations like United Health Group to help hospitals and physician groups holistically engage patients in their care not only to grow patient satisfaction but to improve health care outcomes, such as reducing avoidable readmissions. 

“NectarOM Health helps hospitals proactively engage patients in better managing their post-discharge care to avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions,” said Amrit Kirpalani, president/CEO of NectarOM. “With the NectarOM platform, hospitals can automate the delivery of personalized content, such as appointment reminders, and help patients refill prescriptions or find resources to support their recovery and healing.” 

Patient engagement strategies increasingly are seen as the key to improving care quality and outcomes. Patients who indicated on HCAHPS surveys that they were not engaged in their own care were 34 percent more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, according to a study published in Patient Experience. Another study published in the International Journal of Integrated Care found that post-discharge, more than half of patients are unable remember their follow-up appointment dates, and nearly two-thirds cannot recall dosages or names of new medications. 

The NectarOM patient engagement platform gives hospitals the ability to leverage the power of technology to deliver actionable, relevant and personalized content to patients so that they keep follow-up appointments, adhere to care guidelines, understand physician instructions, and get help when they need it. “Navigating the health care system can be a challenge for patients recovering from a major procedure,” said Kirpalani. “Having a support system is essential. The NectarOM Health patient engagement platform gives hospitals the ability to be a part of that support system.” 

Readmissions penalties defined a decade in transformation of the U.S. health care system. Introduced as part of the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, the legislation put quality and patient safety at the forefront of hospital operations. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assesses these financial penalties for hospitals when they have an excess number of hospital readmissions for six 

conditions and procedures: heart attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, pneumonia, artery bypass graft surgery, elective total hip and/or total knee replacement. 

For more information on how NectarOM Health works with hospitals to build a patient engagement system and improve health care quality and outcomes and reduce costs, contact Amrit Kirpalani at amrit@nectarom.com or 305/725-7921. 

–30– ABOUT NECTAROM NectarOM is a Dallas-based omnichannel personalization company that works with organizations in retail, hospitality and health care to create a 360-degree view of their consumers to grow their loyalty and satisfaction.

“There is a vital change happening in healthcare….Providers who are ready to respond by creating a strong patient experience are going to win, and those who aren’t will be left behind.” That’s from the recent GE Healthcare/Prophet study of the patient experience.

There’s a few key findings cited in the study that merit repeating and, most importantly, addressing:

  • Consumer-patients are unhappy and frustrated: 81 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with their health care experience, and the happiest consumers are those who interact with the system the least.
  • Hospitals are failing to meaningfully address the patient experience: 75 percent of providers say patient experience is critical to the future success of their organizations. Yet, on the list of hospital CEOs’ top concerns, patient satisfaction doesn’t make the top five.
  • Consumers are expecting different…and better. “The power has shifted to the consumer in nearly every industry —transportation, retail, and financial services. Finally, it is healthcare’s turn.”
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Hospitals and health systems can no longer keep operating as if the consumer revolution doesn’t apply to them. The key to survival and to thriving in a health care market where consumers have many more choices than even just a decade ago is investment in a holistic patient engagement strategy.

Fortunately, hospitals can benefit from the early work already done and perfected in the retail and hospitality industries to automate the delivery of personalized content to create a more meaningful brand experience. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

With a robust marketing personalization platform, hospitals can deliver an omnichannel patient experience through multiple touchpoints. It’s what consumers already are used to and expect. The consumer revolution is well underway. Read more about how NectarOM can position your hospital for success or request a demo of our platform.

A recent Becker’s Hospital Review article challenges the practice of putting responsibility for patient experience under the purview and responsibility of a single department or individual. Historically, hospitals have focused on satisfaction with a clinical experience solely as measured by HCAHPS scores. Some task marketing departments with improving experience by focusing on brand image. More recently, bigger hospitals and health systems are assigning chief experience officers the responsibility of improving the larger experience—a combination of clinical care satisfaction and brand perception—of both patients and caregivers.  

But, as the Becker’s author notes, “the question of responsibility, of who owns the patient experience, must be answered with reference to a robust partnership among everyone involved—including clinicians, experience departments and marketers.”  

The key to this shared ownership is a holistic patient engagement strategy.  

Such a strategy understands that in many ways, today’s health care consumers are different from those of the past. They expect convenience and information and services on demand. They are accustomed to personalized, customized marketing content. They consult multiple sources – friends, family, online sites – for health care information. They form brand loyalty based on perception and experience. 

But, in many ways, they are the same. They want their health care providers to care for and about them as individuals. They want to be healed and their fears alleviated. They want to be respected and understood. They want straightforward, understandable information.  

What health care consumers want is personalized care and service – before they become a patient, during their care experience and after. They want information and experiences that speak to them….to their values, needs and concerns.  

A robust, technology-enabled patient engagement strategy ties together these two halves of today’s health care consumer. It uses the contemporary tactics and tools of consumerism – personalization, digital targeting, convenience, data-driven behavior insights – to achieve the timeless goal of patient-centered care. 

And it ties together the multiple, diverse departments and individuals within a hospital to share the patient engagement commitment. 

For more information on how NectarOM Health can work with your hospital to implement a patient engagement strategy to enhance patient experience across channels and settings, contact Amrit Kirpalani or request a demo.