October 21, 2022
OCHIN’s monthly Leadership Lab event aims to connect executives across the OCHIN network through collaborative peer-to-peer engagement. On September 20, OCHIN network executives gathered to discuss strategies to boost staff and patient adoption of digital tools with two leaders from TrueCare, an OCHIN member in California.
Using digital tools can help drive efficiency, improve patient experience, and ease burden on health center staff. For example, guest eCheck-In—an exciting innovation from Epic which OCHIN has implemented—allows MyChart patients to complete their own check-in procedures. Early OCHIN network data shows that eCheck-In can save as much as two minutes of front desk time.
During the 45-minute panel conversation, two leaders from TrueCare—Vice President of Clinical Informatics and Analytics Matthew Kosel, PA-C, MSHI, and Member Access Point Director Ana Ramon—discussed the value of introducing three new patient engagement tools at their clinic: MyChart, WELL Health, and Doximity. These are among the many partners in OCHIN’s comprehensive portfolio of integrated technology solutions to offer add-on electronic health record (EHR) functionality that improves clinical experience and outcomes. Kosel and Ramon spoke about the advantage of these digital tools for driving health equity as well as factors that contributed to their success in expanding adoption among patients and staff.
Encourage patient adoption
Three main factors contribute to success in increasing digital tool adoption by patients.
First, digital tools need to be simple and easy to use. For example, WELL Health allows patients to securely text their providers—a skill most of them already know—through a simple, HIPAA-compliant messaging service. If they can’t text, they can make a phone call. “It allows us to communicate to patients in the way that best makes sense to them,” Ramon said.
Second, digital tools need to provide the services that patients want, such as making appointments and communicating with providers. Otherwise, patients may sign up without using the services the tool provides.
Finally, digital tools need to be equivalent or better than using the older method. Direct scheduling—where open slots are visible online for patients to schedule themselves—is a good example of this. “Direct scheduling removes challenges for patients,” Kosel said. “They feel better scheduling their own appointments, and when patients self-schedule, there are lower no-show rates.”
Implementing patient support plans; communicating via signage, videos, social media, and websites; and selecting tools that don’t require an app download can help mitigate technology challenges among patients. Creating a patient engagement workgroup can help avoid overcommunication and multiple messages.
Support staff adoption
Getting feedback and buy-in at every level—from frontline staff to executive leadership—is key. Including frontline staff from the planning and implementation phase of each digital tool can ensure that the workflows function properly and the staff knows what the benefits are.
Because each conversation with a patient can be different depending on each staff member’s role, provide all staff with role-specific training. Contests such as weekly raffles as well as regular updates on data can help keep digital tools top-of-mind. And using data can also drive accountability and help decide which departments need more training.
Making sure the initiatives are on the strategic plan, implementing a regimented project management-based method, and having a robust governance process with key clinical and administrative leaders who are empowered to make decisions can all influence staff adoption at the leadership level.
Increase access to care
Digital tools like Doximity (a video visit tool) and WELL Health are important because they can reach patients who may not otherwise use their services. They decrease barriers to taking part in health care such as lack of transportation or time to make or receive phone calls during work. And they help patients to make sure they haven’t forgotten about appointments and their health care isn’t completely overshadowed by life’s other priorities.