Tweet Chat Summary: The ePatient Perspective

Professionals working in the healthcare space represent some of the most educated patients that the industry has to offer. With that unique patient point of view in mind, Porter Research and Billian’s HealthDATA recently hosted a tweet chat on the topic of the empowered e-patient.

The tweet chat involved discussions on the meaning of “e-patient” from the health consumer perspective, the reasons the e-patient movement is happening now, and what that means for the healthcare industry.

The first topic discussed was the definition of the e-patient. Taking off our professional healthcare hats, we discussed the meaning from our individual patient perspective. Of the opinions expressed, a general consensus was that e-patients are typically those who are able to use technology as a means to become more aware of health concerns.

AssessPatients brought to the discussion the idea that patients are more informed and wish to collaborate with their physicians in treatment options. E-patients are likely to take care of their health without solely relying on health care providers, instead being a proactive participant in their own health.

Another participant agreed that being more involved with treatment decision making was helpful and something ePatients find important. E-patients feel empowered enough to want to be an essential decision maker, with their doctor, in the ways treatments are executed.

Into the discussion, we came to the topic of time and the reasons why the e-patient movement is happening now. Discussions of the Affordable Healthcare Act and its requirements for electronic medical records came into play, as well as the availability of numerous resources, like patient portals. In addition, popularity of health awareness is rising, creating more of a patient demand to be on top of health care concerns.

With the increasing demand for resources for e-patients to take advantage of, the healthcare industry is going to need to adapt. Tweet chat participants discussed the ways in which the industry is affected by the movement.

Physicians need to be prepared for patients to come into their offices with questions, as they’ve researched their own symptoms before the appointment. In addition, doctors need to be prepared for higher standards from patients. Moreover, as pointed out by a participant, ePatients are now able to research costs of health services, thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reporting on hospital and procedures costs. Doctors will have to become more cost effective as patients are now aware of procedure costs that can vary dramatically between hospitals only miles from each other.

We discussed whether there is enough innovation happening in healthcare IT advancements as patient demand increases. We all know about the CRM (customer relationship management), EMR (electronic medical records) and CDS (clinical decision support) applications that hospitals are adopting and updating, but what about the patients? How are their needs being met through technology?

Overall, participants agreed not enough HIT innovation is happening for e-patients. Suggestions to increase patient participation in innovation included patient testing of usability of applications like patient portals and appointment schedulers.

E-patients perhaps have different needs than regular patients and the tweet chat concluded on the discussion of what doctors should do differently to meet those needs. Participants concluded doctors should be more engaged with their patients in the area of conversation facilitation.

Another wanted the intake process to be streamlined, making it easier for patients to disclose information, in addition to not wasting time and getting to the point of the reason for the appointment.

Another participant said she wanted the patient HIT resource conversation to hit on the fiscal aspects of procedures and treatment options, as well.

Be sure to follow @Billians and @PorterResearch for announcements on future tweet chats.