May 02 2018 By: Sam Bauknight

Patient Engagement vs Patient Empowerment

In part one of a two-part blog series, the engineers who built the Clarify patient empowerment and care coordination system, Care Pilot and Care Connect, share their unique perspective on patient empowerment.

The healthcare industry today faces many challenges. Gaps in communication between patients and their care teams create confusion, delays, and anxiety. Doctors, nurses, and broader care teams are faced with busy schedules and limited resources. Hospital leaders are under pressure to increase efficiency, but they don’t have the critical analysis and technology to support their efforts.

Clarify Health set out to develop solutions to these critical issues.

We brought together a unique group of software engineers with years of experience in financial services ready to turn their attention to improving care delivery. As engineers having never worked in healthcare before, we began our journey of building a “patient engagement” solution with our own experience as patients guiding us. We knew from personal history and the shared experiences of loved ones that even for those of us who are most engaged in our healthcare, the way care is delivered can make us feel anxious, confused, isolated, and lost.

What we needed was a project manager for our own care.

As patients, we crave understanding of what to expect and clarity on what to do. We want to know whether we’re on track. We want to know how to stay on track. And we want to be alerted when we need to do something our doctor instructed. Our experiences have been far from this. We’ve learned to expect and accept healthcare that’s delivered one slip of paper at a time and one conversation snippet at a time – something we would never accept in other areas of our lives.

Times are, fortunately, beginning to change. Thanks to innovations in healthcare technology, more people are taking an active role in their health. We looked at the tools available to patients to help them manage their care, and we found a sea of point solutions – there are apps for scheduling appointments, for setting reminders to take medication, for tracking your pain levels and daily activities, and for messaging providers. There are even apps for reminding you where you parked your car at the hospital. What we didn’t find was a good solution that brought all of this together into one trusted source, and that offered personalized guidance and key information to patients and their caregivers at the points in time where it’s most needed and most effective.

So, instead of aiming our solution at digitizing the existing under-powered points of contact between patients and providers, we aimed to build a solution that helps patients answer their own questions. We aim to empower patients.

We asked care providers what they see as the roadblocks stopping patients from engaging in their own care and this is what we heard:

  • “We give patients all the information they need, but they still call us with questions because it’s hard for them to sort through everything on their own.”
  • “The information we have for patients is not customizable in a scalable way. We find ourselves shuffling sheets of paper, ripping pages out of documents, and stapling others in.”
  • “Even if we give our patients a customized binder of information, we have no clue whether they’ve read it or if they’re staying on track without reaching out to them directly.”

All of this informed how we built Care Pilot and its sister platform, Care Connect. Care Pilot is a web and mobile based patient experience that gives patients the peace of mind they seek – to know there is a trusted source of information specific to their care journey when they need it, a place to check in on progress, a central location for family and extended care networks to engage in the process, and a venue to communicate with their care teams. Care Connect pulls information directly from Care Pilot and feeds it back to care teams to highlight priority interventions, show progress for entire panels of patients, and provide a simple way to track and communicate with patients throughout every stage of the care journey.

Look out for our next post of the series to learn more about how Care Connect and Care Pilot work together to improve care coordination, patient satisfaction, and outcomes. In the meantime, you can read more about care coordination in last week’s post from the Care Coordination Summit.

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