Mar 24th being World Tuberculosis Day, SmartRx team worked with several organizations to launch campaigns to create awareness and educate patients with the condition to get healthy sooner.
One of the programs was done at Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) with their Pulmonology department. With guidance from Dr. Alamelu Haran, Head of Dept, Our team tailored SmartRx’s TB care plans to be able to send messages in Kannada and Bengali to patients. We are offering FREE care plans to patients with guidance that provides detailed information on nutrition, diet and lifestyle changes to prevent the disease and better manage the condition.
Patients will receive TB awareness care plans FREE of COST and this will guide them and send information over the next 2 months to help create awareness and manage the condition better. Thanks to VIMS again for enrolling patients and using SmartRx technology to benefit patients.
Here is a message from Dr Suma P. Kumar, Pulmonologist at Excelcare Hospital about TB awareness which is very helpful to all patients. Dr Suma Kumar has worked in the prestigious Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London before returning to India.
She is experienced in treating all respiratory diseases and takes special interest in creating awareness among patients.
TB is a curable disease if treated early with continuous care in mind… Come lets join hands to educate and create awareness..
Lot of exciting things since the beginning of the year – Presented and showcased our solution at HIMSS conference in Orlando. We also got recent recognition for our product innovation and progress as a company.
Excited to share that SmartRx is the 1st company based in India to be selected at “Startup Health” – Premier academy to help transform healthcare delivery. This presents a great opportunity to present our post-discharge care solutions to US market.
Second note is about being selected as a Finalist for the prestigious TiE 50 awards in Silicon Valley. This is a great recognition for the progress we have made as a company and the innovation we are bringing to the market.
We will also be posting our marketing newsletters online so it reaches a larger audience.
Frost Sullivan has put out a note on CRM for Healthcare solutions. SmartRx enables hospitals to provide continuous care to improve patient outcomes. And the CRM approach ensures hospitals can track ROI and revenue impact while doing so.
As patients begin to take on the role of health consumers, adoption of personal health records (PHR) by both providers and patients is gaining momentum. In the world of consumer-oriented and participatory healthcare, understanding personal health records (PHRs), the different systems available to individuals, and what affect this might have on you and your practice is critical.
The PHR is an electronic record of health information that is developed for, and maintained by, individual healthcare consumers. These individuals own and manage the information in the PHR, which comes from both their healthcare providers and the individuals themselves. PHR systems may contain data from clinician electronic health records, lab results, and patient self-entered data.
Many providers—motivated by patient retention, effective and efficient facilitation of communication, and increased patient involvement and compliance—have begun to offer virtual care options in their practice. Patient portals and mobile apps act as an extension of traditional on-premise care by using electronic means to encourage compliance with doctors’ recommendations—ranging from the timely scheduling of tests to follow-up reminders and making lifestyle changes. They also provide a new outlet for the patient to interact with the provider or staff to fulfill requests for appointments, tests, and non-urgent medical queries.
PHR systems provide patients with comprehensive historical data on laboratory test results, provider visits, medications, and other healthcare information that may be critical in a time of crisis or during non-crisis situations such as travel or relocation. PHR systems—although still evolving—represent an important link in patient care. What role will your practice play in the empowerment of patients through access to their health records?
Let’s imagine the typical scenario in your hospital ward – You have a senior surgeon who has completed the surgery and doing the rounds in the wards. The most common question that gets asked by a patient is – “Doc! What should I eat?” or “When I can start playing cricket?”
Challenges with this situation:
The doctor is busy and makes it very difficult to go over common questions
Most hospitals don’t have nutritionists, rehab experts on hand always
Patients find it awkward to ask trivial questions that always bother them
Now if this is the challenge while the patient is in the hospital. It gets magnified manifold once the patient returns home – It becomes harder to contact the doctors, there would be little support from nurses and other hospital staff and the patient is pretty much left to fend for themselves with the information they have.
Using simple technology can make the scenario better for patients:
Hospital and doctor can point patients to curated post-operative care content available right on patient mobile phone and hospital website
Patients can read information and go over information related to do’s/don’ts of post-surgery, home care instructions, common side-effects, alarm signs, diet and nutrition, lifestyle changes etc.
Patients could get daily reminders from the curated content that summarizes important points and key takeaways daily
Patients could post questions (if the hospital allows them to) and get personalized answers to a certain number of queries
Hospital could turn these queries into FAQ’s and push it to relevant patients thus minimizing the need for new questions
This would greatly simplify the doctor’s interface to the patients:
Time saved answering repeated queries
Save costs by minimizing the need for support staff to assist doctors and patients
Better rapport with patients and improved adherence to recommendations
Minimize disruptive phone calls and organize patient communications
Superior patient experience and patient satisfaction
Increase patient return rates and average patient spend
Save costs by minimizing the need for support staff to assist doctors and patients
Great marketing tool – Keep in touch with patients and build on the post-operative care and medical content to drive more patients
Great win-win situation for patients and healthcare providers!
I have now met with quite a few hospitals/polyclinics and many have asked me the question about how should one leverage social media? Here are some pointers.
The Case for Social Media
Social media is real and its here to stay (its not a passing fad). Another simple argument is that majority of today’s patients are on social media compared to newspapers or radio or TV. So the way to market and receive feedback from patients has to change from a simple static website to digital marketing. Whatever might be the definitions/forms of social media maybe, it simply means hospitals and healthcare providers have to market their services and facilities in social media effectively and utilize social media for patient feedback and improving patient care.
How to leverage it?
First suggestion is its important to have the mindset that this is a part of the overall marketing strategy and not a one-time, one-off project. Here is a mini guide to start with:
1. Create a profile: At this time, facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr are the ones that makes the most sense. The last two as free storage for your videos and photos on your website plus adds up to create the network effect. So no more photos, videos on your website, instead move them to a social media storage.
2. Update frequently: The content needs to be refreshed on both Facebook and Twitter for it to add any value. It could be newsletters, events, updates etc. that you want to update on facebook . Same with Twitter, update frequently with links to your website, youtube videos etc., retweet if you don’t have too many new things (also OK to have a few canned items). Don;t feel the pressure to create new content every day, its more about having a plan and guideline than about creating new content every day. Roughly 1-2 messages on facebook a week is good.
3. Request feedback on facebook: As part of a standard practice, request for feedback about their experience in facebook (you can manage negative feeedback; don’t worry!). Note everytime the feedback is shared is an opportunity to reach out/market to their friends. Keep a goal like getting 10% feedback from patients and run campaigns around to achieve it.
4. Get patients to ‘Like’ the facebook page – This is of huge value since the messages will show in the news stream for the patients and possibly their circle as well.
5. Tagging and meta-data: This is very crucial for reaching the right audience. Similar to SEO keywords in search, one needs to develop a list of #tags and meta-data to include in each of the postings (a guideline) to ensure it reaches the right group. This applies to all posts including videos on youtube.
6. Reputation Management: Besides managing the direct posts/feedback, there are a variety of sites like mouthshut.com (in India) and Google local that support reviews on all topics including hospitals, healthcare providers etc. As part of a social media strategy should include a process to scan it (its pretty easy to find all at once) and respond to it if appropriate or minimize any negative impact from such a post.
7. Overall plan with success metrics: I could go on and write a few more bullets. but like I said earlier, its important to use digital marketing as part of the overall strategy and to allocate time, resources and specific success expectation like any other business initiative.
Typically as part of SmartRx Engage implementation, we work with hospitals to increase patient engagement and that includes social media strategy as well.
I decided to blog about e-Patient and being one such typical person, I googled term “e-patient” and was surprised to find an entry for e-patient on wikipedia. As that write-up says, it stands for patients who feel they are enabled to find the best solution/care, equipped with skills to manage or handle their condition, and feel that they be provided all the information and treated as a partner by their provider. They are also likely to demand higher engagement with their healthcare providers.
Now the first question is how many of them are possibly e-patients? In the US, research suggest about 60-65% of the total population would have e-patient characteristics. In India, this number in cities maybe about 20% but growing rapidly with increasing access to internet with 3G, multiple choices for providers and insurance companies to assist them and the general awareness through media and friends.
Now lets look at what an e-patient typically does.
Research on internet for hours about all possible causes of the health condition
Meet the family doctor close to home
Find “experts” in the area through internet research and friends
Meet 2-3 “experts” before zeroing on the one person
Make lists of all possible cases, causes to quiz the doctor to confirm his interpretation and ideas
Confirm next steps in terms for watch lists and action items
Use an online system to access doctor (if available) for better comfort and dialogue
The increasing portion of e-patients and their expectation means that the healthcare providers need to think about the following areas to cater to them:
Expect higher level of engagement and time needed during the visit
Patience to understand the situation and answer all the queries
Provide patients sufficient information during and after the visit
Become visible on the internet (mobile device) and build online reputation / manage feedback
Build a communication channel with patients (for after visit care)
Treat the person (instead of just the disease focus) with doctor playing the role of an advisor and psychologist.
The last point applies to situations when the e-patient is misinformed, tried to over interpret the information, indulges in self medication, too scared based on the online access to information. But managing e-patients and being equipped to support e-patients has become important for all healthcare providers.
In the past few weeks, I learnt about several projects, experiments, and successful implementation of tools and techniques to engage with patients to provide useful information and assist them to improve their health. We at SmartRx use the term “proactive healthcare” or Health Management – The class of solutions are often described using the words – remote monitoring, medical adherence and intervention and patient engagement. These solutions and learnings from their success / failures is quite relevant to SmartRx and our solution design.
There are quite a few solutions from past (say developed 10-15 yrs ago) to some latest ones that are being coded to work on the new iPads and rolling straight out of developers computers. I will discuss a few examples and some of my thoughts and finally conclude with critical aspects for this solution class.
Lets take the example of Health Hero Network launched in the 90’s and is now part of Bosch Healthcare. From what I can understand it has some success in certain pockets and not had a broad adoption even within the elders/veterans it was focused for. I am thinking the cost of the device and service which is highly custom hardware might be prohibitive. I reckon that the device/service appears complex and can be implemented in a simpler way using mobiles.
Another example I have read about is BeWell Technology which has solutions with real-time feedback, reminders and medical intervention. It appears that the solution would have to be pushed by Govt and healthcare foundations to improve general population health with chronic conditions.
A few more recent ones I reviewed were MedAdherance which I think is tying up with pharma companies to ensure adherence to medication which inturn helps the patient as well as pharma companies with more refills.
Here are some of my thoughts on critical aspects of making this solution class work better:
1. Simple solution that works through web and mobiles (remove complex hardware)
2. Tie these solutions with the doctor/hospital (don’t make it an island of its own)
3. Clarity on who the payer is (has to be free for patients; obviously payer has to have clear demonstrated value/benefit; this would also mean integration with EMR software)
4. Minimize effort and work involved for doctors (otherwise will face resistance) 5. Free of regulatory hurdles (the information exchanged is secure and adheres to guidelines)
I think with these design principles, its possible to improve these class of solutions to achieve wider adoption levels and eventually a bigger impact. Comments?
Last week has been pretty crazy with soaking up tonnes of information related to healthcare companies and healthcare innovations at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Lots of companies out there – some that have been around for a while, and some truly new and exiting ones.
The key to a lot of these companies is a well defined business model – Mark Smith from CHF described it well – he said the business model of a lot of new Health 2.0 companies looks like this:
Phase-1: Invent new gadget
So having clarity in the business model on who the payer is and what the benefit to them is within the ecosystem of patients, providers, hospitals, insurers is key to a lot of these innovations. Though this is true with every business, the size of scope of healthcare probably sometimes clouds this and creates false illusions.
Coming back to the conference, what excited me the most is the focus on “Patient Engagement” which was highlighted time and again by everyone as key unmet need both in terms of process, technologies and tools. That’s exactly the focus for us. Had a chance to review and understand some of the solutions in this area – HeathWays, Phytel, MedAdherance, and the new product from RelayHealth. All good solutions that have gotten some traction in pockets – however SmartRx has a unique approach to making the patient engagement easier with tangible ROI. Our focus on creating care templates enables providers to simplify the engagement model and the feedback loop in terms of tracking returning users is critical to show impact and ROI.
The “blue button” initiative to gain access to EMR data and the increasing clarity about the need and ROI of patient engagement means exciting days ahead of us as we look to launch our solutions.
Reading volumes of research on understanding patient mindset and hospital services, its no-brainier that “Patient Care” is cited as the #1 focus to improve hospital / healthcare practice. For example, see excerpt below survey data from McKinsey Report titled Better Hospital Experience.
Ok. So there are a number of things that will come to mind once you read it fully – provide nice interiors, maybe a TV, A/C, of course cheaper service / value for money, etc,. etc. But #1 aspect patients like according to the survey is “Keep them informed about the treatment both during and after the visit“. This is by far the biggest item on patients radar, next closest being 50% lower in importance!
Great! seems like a good idea to spend a few more minutes with the patient to explain about the health conditions and the treatment options and possibly give them some materials to take home. Wonderful!! But this only addresses part of what patients expect that is “during the visit“. What about “after the visit” which becomes even more important for chronic health conditions and health situations that last more than a couple of months?
That’s where I feel the focus of patient care should expand beyond the actual visit to managing the situations, advice and patient dialog after the visit to the healthcare provider or hospital. There are lots of technology tools to manage/simplify patient visit like EMR, Practice Management solutions et. al. But technology can be applied to enable and simplify communication post visit to health care provider for mutual benefit.