Today we are pleased to release our latest report: 2014/2015 Clinical Patient Engagement Market Trends Report . This long-awaited report marks a return to the critically important subject of Chilmark Research’s very first report on iPHR, back in 2008. Delving deep into the field of clinical patient engagement, we found a marketplace long on potential, but short on results to date.
With this report, Chilmark Research has outlined adoption in the provider market, as well as provided a framework for the diverse set of technologies and product features, new and old, that comprise the toolkit for patient engagement. We interviewed over a dozen market-leading vendors, numerous delivery systems and healthcare executives and other industry stakeholders to cut away the hype and find out exactly where the market is today.
Our research reveals that healthcare organizations (HCOs) are still doing the bare minimum when it comes to digital, between-visit or post-discharge interactions with patients. This is running counter to broader market dynamics – such as consumer advances in mobile and cloud technologies, federal incentives like the Meaningful Use program, shift to value-based reimbursement, and greater consumerization of care delivery through retail clinics and pricing transparency. Leading, innovative HCOs recognize this and are making moves but broad adoption faces a host of challenges.
Provider Market Remains Unready for Advanced Models
Focusing on the clinical applications of engagement technology, this report found that the basic patient portal, often tethered to an electronic health record (EHR), still serves as the foundation for a majority of digital patient interactions. Chilmark found a mixed market for new approaches to clinical patient engagement, where some provider organizations have yet to adopt even these basic patient portals, while others have begun piloting advanced, “smart” tools. Even among the innovative delivery systems out there, it is clear that patient engagement is taking a backseat to other enterprise priorities, such as defining and integrating clinical networks, building analytics capabilities, mastering risk-based contracting, and making other preparations for effective population-based health management.
Industry Lagging In Incorporation of New Tools
Beyond the competing priorities faced by HCOs today, a major challenge to better systems of engagement is simply that vendors currently serving the market have done a middling job of rolling these products out to their customers. In profiling 14 vendors for this report, Chilmark Research found that while the patient portal of yore indeed remains the dominant model, progress on updating the portal is mixed from vendor to vendor. With only a few exceptions, vendors still struggle when it comes to creating a longitudinal record using a combination of external (beyond the native EHR) clinical and patient generated data. Most deployed patient portals today have limited or no mobile-friendly patient tools (beyond mobile-optimized browsers) or advanced care planning applications.
Looking Forward: Signs of Progress
Despite the signs of unreadiness and immaturity, progress in this market is undeniable – though advanced engagement (smart care plans, telemonitoring use cases, and several others) remain limited to pilots today. Given the diversity of solutions available as well as incumbent vendors lead feet, our report suggests adoption will happen in an emerging best-of-breed approach, where HCOs will pick and choose multiple vendors in an effort to meet the diverse clinical and business needs across different departments and patient populations. We anticipate a busy 18-36 months, full of acquisitions, partnerships, pilots, and of course, new entrants.
Chilmark Research has always held that Patient Engagement is the lynchpin of a successful “modern” healthcare IT strategy, particularly when it comes to managing complex, chronically ill populations. Without successful communication, education, and consumer-friendly tools, HCOs will simply be unable to translate their investments into other areas – analytics, information exchange, and so on, into better outcomes for the patient. We are hopeful that the glimmers of progress today turn into broader success stories tomorrow, and that promising pilots are made available for every patient – not just those fortunate enough to receive care at leading facilities. And to that end, we are optimistic that our latest report offers a frank assessment of both where we are today and some of the next steps that various stakeholders in the emerging engagement market ought to take to continue modernizing care delivery.