skip to Main Content

Hospitals, Staff and Patients Benefit from EHR-Embedded Patient Engagement

National spending on electronic health record (EHR) systems is predicted to reach $19.9 billion in 2024, according to one report. Needless to say, the EHR is a substantial but necessary investment for healthcare organizations—and usage has expanded rapidly since it was mandated by health IT legislation in 2016.

It takes time, resources and funding to source the right system and implement it, including dedicating development resources to establish workflows and settings as well as training staff members. Given this fact, getting more value out of these existing systems and the rich patient data stored within them should be an operational and clinical priority. Perhaps that’s why EHR-embedded patient engagement is at the heart of today’s most pressing patient communication technology decisions.

When it comes to communicating with patients, the EHR is a natural technology pairing for patient engagement platforms.

What’s Driving Technology Purchasing Decisions

In fact, industry data supports this claim that the EHR and patient engagement technology should go hand-in-hand. We surveyed a variety of health IT leaders, and the vast majority (85%) want their EHR to serve as the single source of truth. Furthermore, the level of EHR integration was the top answer when asked about the most important factor they consider when selecting a new digital engagement platform or system. It was included in the top three criteria by 87% of individuals surveyed. Also heavily weighted in this decision-making is total cost and return-on-investment, though these factors ranked second and third, respectively, after EHR integration.

The Value of a Single Source of Truth

While technology decision-makers realize the value of EHR-embedded patient engagement, frontline healthcare workers attest that work in the EHR—namely, patient record management—cuts into the time they could be spending on direct patient care. This is an unfortunate truth, but further reason that any communication related to patient care should be able to easily be accomplished within the systems these individuals use every day. As staff members are tasked with doing more with less, time saved on what would be manual patient outreach is ideally redirected to patient care, where it’s needed most.

When patient engagement communications can occur from the EHR, treating it as the single source of truth, patient health data informs and is informed by this activity.

There are two distinct streams of information that characterize a truly embedded solution.

Data from the EHR is pulled into patient engagement activities.

EHR-embedded patient engagement can streamline patient outreach, incorporating patient criteria like language preferences, which are often overlooked. (More than 50 languages other than English are used in encounters between patients and providers in the US.) Channel preferences, whether it be SMS (text message), automated phone calls, email or one-on-one-chat, is an additional consideration that can be fed by the EHR. Finally, health records will also allow for precise targeting based on factors like age, so that providers can easily encourage care such as recommended preventive screenings.

Patient responses are pushed back to the EHR.

As patients interact with messages from their healthcare team, their responses can be automatically documented into the health record. For example, SMS-based appointment setting, rescheduling and cancelations that automatically update the schedule within the EHR save staff time that would normally be spent managing this information manually. Beyond appointment management, following a procedure, care teams can even record post-visit feedback from patients to monitor their status. But even patient responses that say “no, thanks” to recall attempts or care reminders get recorded into the system—turning a decline into an opportunity for follow-up.

How the EHR Can Close the Loop

Froedtert Health employed an automated referral management workflow that pulled EHR data to contact patients when their specialty visit was ready to schedule. Using bidirectional communication to notify patients of an available appointment, the HouseCalls Pro platform connected patients who were ready to schedule with a live person to set their specialist visit. And if patients declined the opportunity to schedule or didn’t engage with the referral outreach, that information was pushed back into the EHR to ease the burden of tracking that referral for staff members. This EHR-embedded patient engagement turned a multi-week referral-to-appointment process into a three-day workflow and freed up valuable time staff would have otherwise spent on manual outreach.

Given that staff are being tasked with increasing responsibility (from communicating about care to actually delivering it, and everything in between) it makes sense to contain patient engagement activity within the EHR, a system they are already accessing every day.

Want more of an inside look at patient engagement technology priorities? Access our survey report to hear from IT executives at leading hospitals and health systems here.

“Adopting the HouseCalls Pro platform has endeared us to our operations and executive teams. ACPNY has implemented a variety of automated workflows and over twenty Epic-event-based messages. We also love the self-service capability and on-demand broadcast messaging.”

Venus Jones | Director, Revenue Cycle Systems
AdvantageCare Physicians

“Since adopting HouseCalls Pro to capture real-time, self-reported patient information via SMS and record that in Epic, we have continued to expand the use of automated workflows. The configurability of the system and the service provided has been excellent.”

Anthony Brown | Director, Application Services
Kettering Health Network

“Recently, a whole practice had to move. HouseCalls Pro provides tools that send reminders out, so we didn’t have a time delay to send out customized messages. We didn’t have to wait for TeleVox’s staff to build something. That helped our practice because we didn’t have to reach out to each patient to let them know where the new location was. Reaching out to each person would have cost a lot of money, so TeleVox’s system has saved us a lot of money. Everything ties into the finances. With this solution, we can utilize our time for other things. Our patient turnover would cost us in the long run if we weren’t utilizing the time slots and the follow-up program. Patients have come back, and we have made them aware that they need to be seen for things. The solution has definitely had a positive financial impact.”

Manager | Customer Interview Conducted by KLAS Research About ROI/Cost

“TeleVox’s greatest strength is customer service. When I have questions or need somebody to intervene, I get very good responses from my account manager. That individual is excellent and always checks on us to see whether there is anything they can do.”

Manager | Customer Interview Conducted by KLAS Research About Service and Support

“I really believe in the HouseCalls Pro product, and I regularly engage in networking with other people that use the system. I am a big fan of the platform and the framework on which the platform is built.”

Manager | Customer Interview Conducted by KLAS Research About Technology

The Patient Family Notifications workflow has helped a lot with logistics. Especially since we have limitations on people entering the hospital due to COVID protocols. It has really helped coordinate with rides. Family members drop the patients off and eventually they get the message that their family member is in recovery and know it’s time to head back into the hospital to pick them up. That is very helpful.

Claudia Andrade | Senior Applications Analyst
Cambridge Health Alliance
Back To Top