Patient Engagement – the Urgent Care killer?

Last month, we started looking at the impact of Urgent Care centers on physician practices. I only started there because a news article had caught my eye.

There are, however, multiple other reasons for the steadily declining revenues and squeezing profit margins of physicians. These include payer payment transformation and value-based purchasing initiatives, patient demand for more convenient care delivery modalities, quality incentives/penalties, unfilled practice calendars (27% of available slots go unfilled), losing patients to competitors, to name a few.

The response to these conditions however, can’t be more of the same (remember what Einstein said, no not “The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax”, though he did say that, but rather “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”). So, to survive and thrive practices need to think differently and change the paradigm in which they are competing.

I would propose that the paradigm shift we need is a new and much broader definition of Patient Engagement. Today most organizations and the vendors selling solutions to them will tell you, rather triumphantly, “Of course we take patient engagement seriously – we deployed a patient portal!”.

But true patient engagement is a multi-dimensional beast that needs new thinking to be tamed. As I said in my last post we need to go where the patients are (metaphorically speaking) and that means much more than a patient portal from Epic or eCW.

True patient engagement should result in happier patients, more revenue and profits for the practice, better quality scores and most importantly better outcomes for the patient – and before someone says this – no, I haven’t been smoking some seriously strong weed!

Next week I will start to fill out the picture and talk about how this can be achieved by even small practices.

See you next week (and for those of you over 50) at the same Bat time, same Bat channel!