HIMSS23: Athenahealth rolls out new tool to measure how well patients engage with digital health

Athenahealth has a created a tool to not only recreate trust in healthcare but also measure it.

The SaaS-based healthcare technology provider announced a new tool called the patient digital engagement index at the 2023 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society global conference. The index is designed to give providers insight into how their patients use digital tools when receiving care. Providers can then turn around and alter practices in order to create a seamless digital experience for patients. Athenahealth calls this a move to a “truly consumer-grade healthcare experience.”

Not only are patients still forced to fill out forms by hand, but they don’t have the agency to shop around for providers without substantial friction, athenahealth's vice president of government and regulatory affairs Joe Ganley told Fierce Healthcare.

“The patient experience of healthcare is horrible,” Ganley said. “Scheduling is horrible, price transparency and cost. The idea that you can shop around in healthcare is sort of ridiculous. So the patient experience in healthcare is one area where there's a lot that technology could do that is actually focused on solving an intractable healthcare problem that's been around for a very long time.”

The index is currently in limited release and will roll out to all athenahealth customers by the end of the year. Providers will gain insights into the efficacy of health information updates, appointment scheduling and payment options.

Athenahealth’s cloud-based electronic health record athenaOne also recently saw improvements with medical billing and patient engagement solutions.

Through the athenaOne Insights Dashboard, the index will reveal patient digital engagement, contrast results against similar athenahealth network organizations and ultimately create insights to improve patient care.

Athenahealth Chief Medical Officer Nele Jessel, M.D., said that as interoperability gains traction and data capture improves, providers are being flooded with patient data but unable to make heads or tails of the information with the limited time afforded them.

“Most providers desire interoperability and for vendors, it was for many years at the top of the list, and now we have more interoperability,” Jessel said. “But now we have a new problem. We have access to almost too much information and a really hard time sifting through and putting it into context.”

Earlier this year, athenaPatient was launched. The patient-facing app allows users to see upcoming appointments, access health information and connect with teams across all of the patient’s providers who use athenahealth. Patients can check into appointments through the app, update health and insurance information and give providers more patient insight.

After giving patients more digital tools, the team wanted to know whether they were just another point solution that sounded great in a boardroom but fell flat in practice. The index was then designed around three core components: access to care, health information and financial responsibilities. Information is then combined and aggregated to reveal overall trends.

“What we are doing now is putting that in the hands of our providers to know if they’re being successful with their own patients,” Curtis Sherbo, athenahealth vice president of product management, told Fierce Healthcare. “Are their patients using our tools? Are providers doing the right things and taking advantage of the right software to reach patients? With those insights, we hope that they will make improvements, take advantage of digital tools and see the benefits in patient outcomes over time.”