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Digital transformation is needed for patient engagement

Stanford Health Care has seen a surge in enrollment thanks to a digital platform that was created in-house, with the specifics of the market in mind.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Aditya Bhasin, chief of web systems and vice president of software design and development at Stanford Health Care.Aditya Bhasin, chief of web systems and vice president of software design and development at Stanford Health Care.

Consumerism means customers have expectations of convenience, flexibility and ease of use. In healthcare, the customers are the patients, and healthcare organizations who want to attract business are increasingly looking to technological innovation to bring patients into the fold.

Aditya Bhasin, chief of web systems and vice president of software design and development at Stanford Health Care, spoke at HIMSS19 Tuesday about his organization's attempts to do just that, emphasizing the importance of innovating from the inside -- to better create something that fits a provider's specific ecosystem.

"If you start looking at how these new consumer experiences are rolling out, these companies aren't going to establish vendors in those verticals and say, 'Hey, give me a solution for this.' They're innovating from the inside. Amazon didn't go to Walmart and say, 'Wew want to buy your big box experience.'"

The way the healthcare system is fragmented has been a barrier to internal innovation to this point, but Stanford's own efforts suggest it's possible.

Stanford has rolled out an app called MyHealth that mimics some of the conveniences found in other industries. Patients are able to schedule appointments on their phone, engage in video-based telehealth visits with caregivers and pay their bills online. They can also get personalized directions to their final destinations, and have the care team notified when they arrive.

Developed in-house, the impetus came from the patients themselves. Stanford utilizes a patient advisory forum to weigh in on matters such as this.

That expanded the initial objective of the digital transformation initiative, which was simply to speed up the check-in process. The other components -- the directions, the bill pay options -- came from the patients themselves. Reducing no-shows and staff burnout were also added to the list of objectives.

The development of the app consisted of a "Frankenstein" of different methodologies. The team used Lean UX for design, Agile to build, Devops to speed up the build, and so on.

"You can look at these tool sets and determine what works best for your organization for how these things stitch together," said Bhasin.

With a more clearly defined mission, Stanford could determine what to do technologically on the back-end. The goal was to go for a seamless experience.

"We rolled out bits and pieces and gradually pieced them together," said Bhasin.

It has now been rolled out across five campuses, and when a new location opens at the end of the year, it will debut there as well.

The result? Enrollment is up 300 percent, and an estimated 75 percent of the system's patients are on the platform.

"Patients are engaging with us digitally about three times for every physical confrontation," said Bhasin. "The digital platform is the key to execution. You've got to have a flexible, scalable digital platform. We tried to come with something that is unique to us."

HIMSS19 Coverage

An inside look at the innovation, education, technology, networking and key events at the HIMSS19 global conference in Orlando.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com